Saturday, June 18, 2016

LLELA: June 18, 2016

I had no plans to go shooting today. The Texas heat is already getting to me, and it's not even officially summer yet. Maybe Tuesday, I thought. Maybe a trip back up to Hagerman NWR, even though Wildlife Drive is partly underwater.

Then Phil Plank sent me a message last night asking if I wanted to go to LLELA with him this morning to look for alligators.

Not even a hesitation.

American Alligator, LLELA
We actually got our gator sighting pretty quickly.  Michael Fox took us back to the research ponds., and there one was with just his eyes and snout above water.  Looked to be between four and six feet in length, and we'd heard there was a 10-footer around somewhere.  More looking.

Dragonfly, LLELA
The early hour provided some nice dew and some nice backlighting to add a little something different to this dragonfly picture.

Water Lily, LLELA
Water lilies look beautiful in early morning light, like just about everything else.

Blue Dasher, LLELA
I'm impressed that a Blue Dasher can maintain this pose without beating its wings.  Seems like it would require exceptional strength and balance.  Or maybe not for an insect.

American Green Tree Frog, LLELA
Phil spotted this itty bitty American Green Tree Frog sitting in a great big water lily leaf.  Unfortunately, he wouldn't turn around and I wasn't about to wade out into the pond for a better angle.

Great Blue Heron, LLELA
A number of herons and egrets had congregated in one pond that also had lots of round wire enclosures in it.  Not sure if that particular pond had more fish than others, but we did see a couple of the birds make catches.  This Great Blue Heron was literally the only bird that didn't fly away as we walked past.

Red-winged Blackbird, LLELA
I consider female Red-winged Blackbirds a fairly drab bird.  But if one's going to sit in good light and pose for me, I'm going to take her picture.

American Bullfrog, LLELA
Another pond seemed to have more bullfrogs than others, all floating with just their eyes above water.  I crept down close to the water's edge for this shot, which startled a frog sitting on the shore, who jumped and startled ME since I assumed it was an alligator about to eat me.

Eastern Pondhawk, LLELA
This Eastern Pondhawk appeared to be chowing down on something, but I can't for the life of me figure out what.

Spider, LLELA
Last spot walking back to the car was this spider who had the desiccated husks of past meals still hanging in its web as a sort of grisly warning to other insects.  Which seems counterproductive, since as a spider you sort of want insects to stumble into your web.  Regardless, an interesting scene.

We never did see any other alligators after our first one, although we did see that same alligator again later in our visit when we returned to the same pond.  It wasn't interested in pictures on our second stop, dropping below the surface of the water and leaving a little trail of bubbles as it moved off.  Then the bubbles stopped, and the alligator didn't resurface, and we decided to move away from that pond.

The mercury was already pretty high when we departed a little before 10 a.m.  But I was glad I got in an unexpected photo walk!

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