Blue Heron

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This stunning blue heron was posing in the sunshine, apparently begging to be photographed.

The recent visit to Brazos Bend State Park near Houston gave me what was probably the best sightings of just about everything.

I watched a bittern gorging itself on a huge fish. It took more than just a few gulps to get it down, and there was a noticeable bulge in its throat when it was half in down there, with half still hanging out of its beak.There were plenty of large egrets about, and turtles were sunbathing with their necks streched towards the warmth. I saw white ibis and a purple gallinule, glowing with its purple-ness, in the sun. A rail was foraging alongside an ibis, a couple of anhingas were stretching out their wings to dry and air them after diving in the lake. Northern cardinals were carolling their uplifting  “birdybirdybirdy” calls but being their usual elusive selves they cleared off as soon as any hint of camera action was made.

Add into this heady mixture my first sighting of a butterfly this year – a yellow brimstone, and a nice close up view of a dusty brown grasshopper.P1040936

Visiting family in Texas on and off for several years now, I’ve come to recognise a fair number of birds and even some of their calls.  On my very first visit I had to buy a basic bird ID book as it was very frustrating not knowing what was what. I’ve learned quite a bit of US bird recognition over the years but there is still plenty of room for improvement.

On this latest trip to Brazos Bend, a woman sporting binoculars pointed out a small bird which was flying and perching, flying and perching, using the topmost branches of a nearby tree. She said it was a vermilion flycatcher. It was a bright, stunning orange, but try as I might, I couldn’t get a decent shot of it against the light. But I had at least seen it and learned the ID of a new bird.

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