Thursday, June 29, 2017

Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge: June 2017, Part I

I made the same last stop on my Galveston visit this year as I had last year -- Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. It gives me something to look forward to when I get up that last morning. And it makes the drive home feel a little shorter.

Gulf Fritillary, Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge
I started with a walk through the Butterfly and Hummingbird Habitat near the Visitor Center.  Not a lot of activity yet in the relatively cool morning hours, but those cool conditions likely contributed to this Gulf Fritillary sitting nice and still for me.

Dragonfly, Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge
There were plenty of dragonflies around the pond.  Shooting this one from slightly below gives nice detail on its wings, but the lack of discernible color makes it too hard for me to identify.

Barn Swallow, Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge
All the insects had their hands (wings?) full trying to avoid becoming a meal for the Cliff Swallows nesting in the nearby pavilion.  Cranking my ISO up to 3200 gave me a decent snap of this bird who seemed as curious about me as I was of it.

Black-necked Stilt, Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge
One of my goals for the trip was to shoot baby birds, and to this point I'd seen very few.  Apparently this is the season for Black-necked Stilt babies, though.  I came across several pairs of adults who were clearly trying to shepherd me away from their young.

Black-necked Stilt Babies, Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge
The babies, for their part, did a great job scrambling into tall grass when they got uncomfortable.  Probably a good instinct for their long-term chances of survival, but not a behavior that lent itself to great photos.

Common Gallinule Family, Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge
The other babies I saw consistently were Common Gallinule, mainly along the Shoveler Pond Auto-Tour Loop.  Most of them seemed to know to stay close to Mom.

Common Gallinule Baby, Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge
This baby looks more isolated than it actually was.  The rest of the family were just outside the left edge of the image.  Composition is a powerful tool. :)

Common Gallinule Baby, Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge
I'm getting to be quite a snob about needing catch light on the eye of my wildlife.  When I don't have it, I don't like the shot as much.  Even when the subject is fuzzy and adorable.

American Alligator, Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge
Another photographer was kind enough to point out a small alligator fairly well camouflaged by duckweed.  I don't know if the camouflage was intentional, or if it was trying to protect itself from the sun a bit, or if it was just a natural byproduct of swimming in water covered with duckweed.  Whatever the case, it looks cool.  Even without catch light on the eye.

More to come!

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