Thursday, May 21, 2015

Humid morning at Baytown Nature Center

This May morning before the rain started, it was a cloudy, muggy day at Baytown Nature Center.

Juvenile heron.



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Alligators on the move

This medium-sized gator headed the other way when I rolled down the window to snap a pic with my phone. I guess it doesn't like orange cars.
Driving into Sheldon Lake State Park this morning, I met an alligator crossing the road after several inches of rain had been dumped in the park during the night.

It's mating season for the alligators, which are looking for mates and nesting sites

Gators aren't unusual at Sheldon Lake. There are signs warming visitors to keep their distance and never feed the animals.
A few hours later this alligator was spotted on the ramp at Pond 1. Of course I walked over to see it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Stopping along the River Road of Big Bend Ranch State Park

Marker along the trail to Closed Canyon.
Our car couldn't handle the rough road to the interior of Big Bend Ranch State Park. However there are trailheads along the River Road/FM 170 from Lajitas to Presidio.

The trail to Closed Canyon is a nice walk and the temperature drops about 10 degrees when you get inside the canyon.

The view from just inside Closed Canyon, which may look familiar if you saw the last scene of Boyhood.
A few feet along the Cerro de las Burras Loop, you can see a rock formation that looks like a skeleton head. It is easily accessible.
Yep, there are lots of rocks. This one was along the Hoodoos trail.

The wildflowers were blooming in mid April.
And the cactus flowers were an extra treat.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Butterflies along Big Bend's Lost Mine Trail

The trail is listed as "intermediate" and should be a three-hour roundtrip. It took us 4.5 hours.
Going up the Lost Mine Trail in Big Bend in the crisp morning air in April, we didn't see many butterflies.

But coming down around lunchtime, they were active. A big orange butterfly buzzed us a couple of times, but I wasn't able to identify it.

Common Streaky-Skipper or Scarce Streaky-Skipper? Only a specialist can be sure.
Dainty sulphur
Reakirt's Blue is on the West Texas butterfly checklist. Could this be one?
Something took a bite out of the back of this Gray Hairstreak.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Beautiful butterfly atop Enchanted Rock

I had doubts about making it to the top of Enchanted Rock. But once I mastered the zigzag ascent, it got easier.

It's only about 425 feet up.

At the top are small vernal pools, soil islands that are endangered. See the black butterfly just in front of the vegetation?

It was a black swallowtail, recently deceased. So perfect, yet so dead.
At the bottom of the trail, a snake watched us cross the walkway back to the parking lot. It was very much alive.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Earless lizards patrol Big Bend trails

Compared to the anoles we see around Slap Out Gully, these Greater Earless lizards of Big Bend look fat and fancy.

Walking along the trail to Closed Canyon, the lizards would tease us by catching our attention then running about 25 feet away to see if we would follow.

It is breeding season for the Greater Earless Lizards. The females bury eggs March though August, and then leave the eggs. When the babies hatch, they are on their own.

The lizards, which are around 7 inches long, have a lifespan of about two years if they are lucky.

To regulate their body temperature, the lizards burrow under the sand. But sand can't clog their ears because they don't have external openings. Good planning, evolution.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Sunrise at Terlingua ghost town cemetery

The Terlingua Cemetery was established in 1902 in what is now called Terlingua Ghost Town, located between Big Bend Ranch State Park and Big Bend National Park.

Federico Villalba, a pioneer who settled in the area, is buried here.

Many of the falling crosses and piles of rocks are the graves of miners who were working the cinnabar/mercury mines 1890-1930. A flu epidemic in 1918 also helped fill the small cemetery.
A marker for Kathleen Grace Barnett, March 3, 1993-Feb. 16, 1997
Some of the rusty nails spelling out the name and words are missing.
The site is still used by local residents for burials. And in November there is Day of the Dead ceremony. During the same week the famous annual chili cook-off is held.
A neighborhood dog trots through the cemetery to check out visitors.