I've come to an unfortunate conclusion about nature photography in Texas during the summer. Namely, that I only have three options. Either be prepared to be out before dawn and finish early, suck it up and deal with the heat, or just accept not going out at all until October rolls around.
Yesterday I chose Option B and drove up to Hagerman NWR. I'd heard that there were Painted Buntings and Barred Owls on the Meadow Pond Trail. And the pollinator garden was in full bloom. Add those to the usual opportunities for waterfowl and other birds and it seemed worth the drive. So with a wide-brimmed hat and a full bottle of water, I hit the road and arrived at the refuge around 11:00.
Sleepy Orange did pay a nice, long visit to an Echinacea.
softshell turtle crossing the dirt road. At least, I think he was crossing. There were tire tracks on either side of him, so I wondered if someone else had not seen him and driven right over him. But there was hardly any traffic at the refuge, and he didn't appear to have suffered the sort of trauma that would come from having been run over. I didn't see him as I was driving back out, either. So I'm choosing to believe that he was crossing, and that he made it.
last visit to Hagerman back in April I saw lots of little shorebirds running around. This time, it was only Killdeer. I suspect the others were driven off by the heavy spring rains and release from the Lake Texoma Dam. Fortunately, I like Killdeer.
Things were pretty still on the trail. Very few birds chirping, and this dragonfly didn't even want to move much. It was, as predicted, hot. (EDIT: Michael Fox says this is more specifically a Blue Dasher. And I trust him more than anyone else for dragonfly IDs!)
Nothing eventful happened for a while. I got back to my car, drank all my remaining water, drove back down Wildlife Drive without seeing anything interesting, refilled my water bottle at the Visitor Center, and saw nothing of note on a second stroll through the pollinator garden.
One last order of business. On my visit in April I hiked the Harris Creek Trail and thought the view north overlooking the Derby Ponds was gorgeous. Unfortunately, I hadn't brought my tripod and wide angle lens on the hike so I didn't get a shot of them. I wanted to take another look.
Nature, as if so often does, had a better idea.
Along the walk I spooked a White-tailed Deer foraging in some
underbrush. It scampered off before I got more than a quick look at it. Then I heard another noise, and saw that she had left behind a fawn.
The cover was too thick for a photo. So I watched how she was moving and headed to a spot where I could get a clear look at her before she turned to follow her mother.
She made it to the spot I hoped she would ... then turned the opposite direction I expected and headed towards me!
I did notice some new leaves growing on a tree, and found it interesting that instead of turning from green to red before they died these leaves started red and changed to green as they matured. The backlight from the high sun gave them a nice look.
I sweated a lot more than I'd wanted to, but about as much as I'd expected. As happy as I am about having seen the fawn, I'm not sure walking around outside in the middle of the day taking pictures is something I want to make a habit of over the next three months. But from this day at least I have the memory of an encounter that will be with me long after the sunburn on my forearms is gone. :)