November 4, 2016
Paddling buddy, Dave invited us to go paddle at Champion Lake, another of my favorite swampy places in Trinity River NWR. He even offered to paddle both me and Ellen in Natalie's tandem canoe, while Natalie paddled his kayak. I declined because I'd rather hike then sit and I have spent many happy hours on land there.
I immediately started checking out all the distant birds by taking pictures and then blowing them up in the camera. A pair of white dots in a distant tree turned into wood storks, a most coveted species in the late summer and fall, when Mexican juveniles sneak across the border and wander along the Texas coast.
|Natalie and Ellen enjoying the put-in views|
|A long view of a pair of wood storks|
After the paddlers left, I started walking the mowed path on the levy that forms the lake. It goes all the way to the Trinity River but I got ambushed by thousands of butterflies and only managed about a half mile of it. Every step caused twenty to forty butterflies to jump out of the grasses and forbs. The sun was bright and the air was warm. so the butterflies quickly flew out of camera range, while others caught my eye. Most of the butterflies were less than an inch across their wings so I couldn't even see them on my camera screen. I spent a lot of time trying to capture them, getting ever more frustrated until the sun got too bright for pictures. Then I just enjoyed their bright movement while listening to the hum of honeybees and syrphid flies.
|Queens were the most abundant and cooperative|
|But only occasionally showed me their monarch-like undersides|
|Migrating monarchs were resting in grass.....|
|Or among willow leaves.....|
|Or feeding on the abundant fleabane|
|The waterway narrowed along the trail and I was able to ambush |
this pair of white ibis feeding on the far side
|Think a different species of metalmark|
I also checked out a side trail that went through wet woods full of little, mostly dry sloughs. Finally I turned back so I wouldn't make the paddlers have to wait on me, I had time to compile my bird list and then add a pair of roseate spoonbills before I caught sight of the returning paddlers.
|One of the very few signs of fall|
|This little slough had enough water to make pretty reflections|
|There were lots of palmettos, one of my favorite plants|
|This comma sat quickly on a tree trunk|
|There were cloudless, and I think, dogface sulfurs but most were too fast to capture - |
this cloudless was in the butterfly garden
|The last bloom of marsh mallow - it was across the lake from me|
|Great blue herons are hard to see against the trees|
|A pair of roseate spoonbills were the last birds on my checklist|
|Their flight starts with free fall|
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