Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for January 28th, 2012

… and blue

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You’ve heard me say that Great Hills Park is my neighborhood park, and fortunately one that because of its terrain is bound to remain almost totally undeveloped. On the afternoon of January 19, with temperatures in the upper 70s, I went photographing along an upper branch of the unnamed creek that runs through the park and whose presence is among the reasons the land can’t be built on. At one point, when I’d just finished balancing my way across the creek on some concrete steps, I suddenly glimpsed a large bird of a type that I don’t remember ever seeing before. It was aware of me and it was wary of me, but I quietly switched to my longest lens, cranked up the ISO on my camera to deal with the dim light in the woods, and began taking what pictures I could.

When I got home, excited at having photographed such a picturesque bird, I looked through my copy of John L. Tveten’s The Birds of Texas and managed to identify what I’d seen: it was a yellow-crowned night heron, Nyctanassa violacea. The bird was attracted to the water pooled up in that part of the creek, and that’s why I found it there that afternoon. In addition to new friend bird, you may recognize a couple of twining friends from recent posts: the sinuous, bark-covered form in the foreground is a mustang grape vine, Vitis mustangensis, while the smooth and slender green vines behind it are rattan, Berchemia scandens. But I doubt you’ve paid much attention to the vines when you’ve had this stately heron right in front of you.

For someone who’s not a bird photographer (I don’t have the requisite enormous telephoto lens and heavy-duty tripod), I’ve lucked out several times recently. One of those, in keeping with the red theme that today’s picture of a blue bird has put an end to, was when I found a mockingbird in a possumhaw tree just two days earlier. To see mockingbirds in suburban-style neighborhoods here is nothing new, but to find a heron like this in one of those neighborhoods—my own—surprised me. It’s one more reason to be grateful for the presence of Great Hills Park. (And thanks to Marie Laing, coincidentally a subscriber to this blog, who was instrumental in getting the land set aside as a park.)

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

 

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 28, 2012 at 4:51 AM

Posted in landscape

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