I began today thinking it an appropriate time to compile part 4 of my winter visitors series. Then I lost interest about three pictures into it and decided instead to revisit the spiders with part 3 of that series. Having failed to relocate the first arachnid image before deciding it too much work for my lazy attitude, I thought perhaps I would toss out a few impressive images of a red-tailed hawk in flight, a gorgeous adult raptor who avoided me at all costs as I stalked the bird in its various perches but who still gifted me with an afternoon takeoff and upward spiral directly overhead. For some reason, even that effort became tedious before it began.
And yet through all the floundering in ideas, I kept coming back to something less intentional, something less focused on the thought of the matter and more focused on a celebration of simple things. This past weekend offered cold mornings and sunny springlike afternoons, cool enough to start the day with plenty of activity to get the blood flowing and comfortable enough by lunchtime to have the lizards out hunting insects and the turtles resting on sun-soaked logs.
In the midst of such comfortable December days, I find myself standing motionless in places where the ubiquitous stand like lighthouses, where stopping to see the commonplace feels like discovery made flesh. At the woodland edge, in the depth of the forest, along the shore of a lagoon, atop a simple hill… These places and more offer the open eyes a feast of beauty waiting to be seen.
A black-crowned night-heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) hunts beneath riparian flora.
A great egret (Ardea alba) stands like a beacon against a backdrop of russet and shadow.
A male house finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) indulges in the fruit of blackhaw viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium) and forgets to wipe his beak afterward.
A tufted titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) plays peekaboo.
A blue-gray gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea) tries its hand at peekaboo. It goes without saying this poor bird entirely missed the idea of the game.
A juvenile red-headed woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) captures a wily pecan.
A Carolina chickadee (Poecile carolinensis) pauses to observe the observer.
[Update] I should have included in the original post that these photos are from White Rock Lake in Dallas.