Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Murrell Park: May 2016

I had plans on Memorial Day to get up and shoot sunrise and some pocket prairies full of blooming wildflowers at Grapevine Lake. But Mother Nature had other ideas, and morning conditions were wet and windy. Hey, I didn't mind the extra three hours of sleep I got when I went back to bed. But my itch to get out and shoot pictures still hadn't been scratched.

Fortunately, conditions improved throughout the day. By late afternoon the skies were mostly sunny and temperatures were warm but not oppressively hot. With summer right around the corner I know there aren't too many days when I can walk outside without breaking into an immediate sweat left. So after much contemplation I decided to head over to Murrell Park to see what I could see.

Mississippi Kite, Murrell Park
Jackpot right off the bat -- I caught sight of a small raptor flying to perch in a tree right alongside the road.  Upon closer inspection it turned out to be a Mississippi Kite who was quite content to let me get out of my moving blind and creep close enough for a nicely detailed shot.

Mississippi Kite, Murrell Park
So focused was I on the kite that I nearly forgot my mantra to always look around and make sure there isn't a better shot in a different direction.  Fortunately something caught my eye to the left, and that something turned out to be yet another kite!  I assume they're a breeding pair, but I didn't see or hear any sign of a nest with chicks.  Still, I can't complain about what I got of the adults.

Black Eyed Susan, Murrell Park
Black-Eyed Susans are in full bloom.  This one was hiding some sort of insect guest under its petals.

Black Eyed Susan, Murrell Park
This one was just the right height for the low afternoon sun to bring out detail in its pistil and stamen.

Salsify, Murrell Park
I couldn't decide if this was salsify or dandelion.  Seemed a little small for the former and a little big for the latter.

Black Eyed Susan, Murrell Park
Long Tall Susan, with all apologies to Sally.

White-tailed Kite, Murrell Park
The kites weren't done posing for me.  One had flown to the opposite side of a little meadow I was driving around.  So I got out and took more pictures of him.  Or her.

Western Kingbird, Murrell Park
I think this little flycatcher is a juvenile Western Kingbird.  The colors seem generally right, but he's a little small and his tail a little too long.  I might be wrong on this one.

Great Egret, Murrell Park
I left the meadow and headed for the lake shore, where I watched a Great Egret take in the last rays of day.

Sunset, Murrell Park
The sun went behind some thin clouds and I figured the show was over the day.  So I actually left the park and started driving home.  But then the sky started to get a little color, so I changed my mind and headed back in.  I rolled the dice on a road I'd never been down before, thinking it might lead me to a spot on the shore with a nice view to the west.  And I was right. :)

Not much more than an hour of shooting, but a very rewarding hour it was!

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