Sunday, May 28, 2017

Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center

I love my first visit to a new photo spot. If I've done my research right, I have a pretty good idea what to expect. But it's the not knowing for sure -- the little bit of doubt and uncertainty, the opportunity for discovery -- that makes that first visit so special.  Such were my hopes when I took my first trip to the Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center in Denton.

Blanket flower, Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center
I decided to head counterclockwise on the loop trail, and that made wildflowers like this blanket flower my first subjects.

Spicebush Swallowtail, Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center
I saw several different swallowtails, but only managed a good shot of this female Eastern Tiger.

Northern Cardinal, Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center
I passed a very helpful group of birders -- honestly, there is rarely another kind -- who gave me lots of insight on what I could find when I reached the pond.  This male Northern Cardinal wasn't on their list, but since he posed no nicely he left me no choice.

Prothonotary Warbler, Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center
They were most excited about the Prothonotary Warblers they'd seen and heard, but weren't quite able to agree on whether there were three or five in the area.  I definitely heard the songs of more than one, but only got a handful of documentation shots.  They weren't taking modeling tips from the cardinal, that was for sure.

Prairie Coneflower, Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center
Yellow coneflower were thick and at peak bloom around the pond.

Honeybee on Prairie Coneflower, Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center
Pollinators like this honeybee had also noticed the coneflowers.

Green Eyed Fly on Prairie Coneflower, Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center
The sun broke through the intermittent clouds at just the right time to really illuminate this Green Eyed Fly nicely.

Widow Skimmer, Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center
I will pretty much always stop to shoot a dragonfly perched on a twig, like this Widow Skimmer.

Common Buckeye on Prairie Coneflower, Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center
This Common Buckeye was much smaller than the one I saw a month ago in Ennis.  But the pattern on its wings was no less striking.

Common Whitetail Skimmer, Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center
Not on a twig, but this female Common Whitetail Skimmer was still sufficiently still to warrant some shots.

Jadera Bugs, Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center
I stumbled -- almost literally -- on this unusual scene right in the middle of the trail.  A little online research leads me to the conclusion that these are Jadera bugs.  But what they're doing I have no idea.  I didn't see a seed pod at the center of this little clump, although I did notice some even smaller nymphs wandering around the perimeter of this group.  Yet another of life's little mysteries.

Bumblebee on Basketflower, Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center
This bumblebee on a basket-flower completed my trifecta of pollinator shots.  His little saddlebags seem pretty full, so I'm guessing he had a fairly productive morning.

It's been a fairly mild spring, but the temperature when I finished my hike a little before 1 p.m. was already over 90 degrees.  So while I definitely intend to return to the Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center in the future, it may not be until things start cooling down in October!

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