Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Reddish Egret Ballet

Just finished this acrylic painting of a couple of Reddish Egrets cavorting in the surf. It's based on a series of photos I took at Bolivar Flats. The behavior was probably a ritualized territorial dispute, but looked more like a ballet.
On June 19th I was watching a pair of Mississippi Kites circling over our neighborhood, when I saw one fly to it's nest in the crown of a spindly pine across the road from our house. With my scope I could see downy young peeping over the edge of the nest. This long-distance photo of an adult at the nest was taken today:
The drought continues, and due to the unusually dry conditions there have been many wildfires here in Southeast Texas. A couple of weeks ago there was a big blaze along Highway 87 near Sabine Pass, and for a while there was concern that Sabine Woods might be in danger. Fortunately the fire didn't reach the sanctuary and the woods were spared. I had been there only a few days prior. When I was there the marshes were very dry, but Dickcissels were singing along the highway, and in the middle of the day I found this Common Nighthawk resting on a branch near Sea Rim State Park:

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Creatures of the Night

Found this Three-toed Box Turtle on our front lawn. Michelle and the kids also got to see him before he ambled off into the shrubbery.
At night all sorts of critters are attracted to our porch lights. Some, like the junebugs and horseflies, fly around, bounce off the lights, try to sneak inside when the door is opened, and generally make a nuisance of themselves. Then there are the legions of creepy crawlies that come out at night and cling to the outside walls and windows. The following photos (Gray Treefrog, Mediterranean Gecko, and a large stick insect) were all taken around our front porch on the evening of 6/5/11:

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Hardin County Field Trip

This morning I went on the Golden Triangle Audubon Society's annual field trip to Hardin County. I happen to live in southern Hardin County, but the focus of this trip was the Firetower Road/Gore Store Road area north of Silsbee.

Firetower Road can become a muddy wallow after a rain, and when it's dry - as it is now due to the drought - you have to be careful driving the sandy stretches. The little creek near the south end of Firetower Road was completely dry, but that's where we had the most unexpected bird of the trip, a singing Kentucky Warbler!

Other highlights included stunning views of Prairie Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, and Indigo and Painted Buntings. Here's my best photo of the Painted Bunting:
...and my best shot of Yellow-breasted Chat:
When you are travelling in a caravan of vehicles the people in the front car will often see birds that are missed by those in the cars behind. On today's trip it was only those in the lead car who got to see a Greater Roadrunner. By the same token, sometimes it pays to be last; I was a passenger in the car bringing up the rear, and we were the only ones to see Swainson's Warbler(!). From the car window I heard it singing in a roadside thicket, and we got out to look for it while the rest of the caravan moved on. In response to playback of its song it flew across the road to a low perch and started singing in plain view. We were able to get a few pictures before it disappeared back into the thicket. This is the only photo of mine that came out in focus:

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Another Swallow-tailed Kite

Had a pleasant surprise on my drive home today. As I exited I-10 onto Highway 69 northbound I saw a Swallow-tailed Kite fly low over the lane of traffic ahead of me. It appeared to have flown up from the median strip. A Swallow-tailed Kite in the middle of Beaumont might seem unusual, but in prior years I've had several summer sightings along Highway 69 between I-10 and Highway 105. I wonder if they might be nesting somewhere nearby?

The drought continues, and Southeast Texas is starting to look more like West Texas. Grass is yellowing and plants are withering in the heat...speaking of which, Southeast Texas was the hottest region in the U.S. today. In Lumberton our high temperature reached 102°F.