Some neat stuff from this week

As the seasons progress, new waves of wildflowers replace or add to the ones preceding them.

Sarah and I were excited to see our first blooming Lace Cactus(Echinocereus reichenbachii).

This Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja sp.) had great color, and stood out among the more common flowers in the area.

The American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) is usually seen with open wings from above, which are mostly orange and black. I included this photo because I think the more intricately patterned and colored underside is often unnoticed or underappreciated.

This is an Ironclad Beetle (Zopherus nodulosus) that I found under a log. I like finding oddballs like this.


Anuhuac NWR, High Island, and Bolivar Peninsula

This past weekend, we went on a long-awaited trip to the upper Texas coast to see some migrating birds. The songbirds weren't as diverse as expected, but its hard to complain when we were constantly seeing Scarlet Tanagers, Summer Tanagers, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Blue Grosbeaks, Baltimore Orioles, and Orchard Orioles. We also saw really neat looks at Roseate Spoonbills, Purple Gallinules, and even a secretive Least Bittern. Unfortunately, I don't have the right camera to capture those beauties. But here are some consolation prizes.

We got up early and were rewarded with a beautiful sunrise on our way to the coast.

We saw a number of cool serpents, but my favorite was probably this Western Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma). It put on a nice show for us, including flattening itself and showing the strikingly white mouth for which it gets its name.

We went night driving for more snakes, but didn't see any. However, we did see my first wild Green Treefrogs (Hyla cinerea)...

...and this neat little fiddler crab (Uca spp.).

These are the first American Avocets (Recurvirostra americana) I have seen in breeding plumage (some are still in molt). Also in photo: Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens), Brown Pelican (Pelacanus occidentalis), American White Pelican (Pelecanus eyrthrorhynchos), and Willet (Catoptrophorus semipalmatus).


Neat Texas Critters

This is the Red-headed subspecies of the Giant Desert Centipede (Scolopendra heros castaneiceps). This is one of the largest centipede species in the world, with adults topping out at over eight inches. I think that anyone who can get past their aversion to "creepy crawlies" will recognize this as a very beautiful part of God's creation.

Here's a risk-free opportunity for you to get a good look at a hornet. I've always thought they have great faces; kind of a cross between an alien face and a cool motorcycle helmet.


Photos from the past couple days

This is an Eight-spotted Forester Moth (Alypia wittfeldii). They really are striking.

This is a Reakirt's Blue (Hemiargus isola).

This male Plains Clubtail (Gomphus externus) was a new dragonfly for me. It posed nicely.

I put this Antlion larva (Myrmeleon sp.) on here for my brother Alex. Alex, you know why.


Random stuff I liked seeing

This beetle is aptly called a caterpillar hunter (Calosoma scrutator). It's fun to watch them catch the light as they search and find caterpillars eating the fresh spring foliage.

Texas has great wildflowers. This one is in the iris family.

This Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus) is one of three I've been fortunate enough to see here so far.

I just can't help but to like this little oak seedling.