Ubiquitous: present everywhere or in several places simultaneously
Plastic: any of a number of synthetic polymeric substances that can be given any required shape
(The Concise Oxford Dictionary)
This lone plastic water bottle floating in a sea of green gunge in Brazos Bend State Park in Texas caught my eye. The park is pristine, tidy and well-kept. Staff and volunteers do a great job keeping it clean so visitors can enjoy the wildlife. So this lone bottle jarred.
It definitely should not have been there and I wondered which unthinking clown had thrown it into the lake rather then into one of the bins (there are plenty of them).
It jarred especially because of the context it was in. I was watching a Great Egret at the time. It was still and peering into the water at the edge of the green and gunky lake. Here it is peering – it let me get quite close but not too close. What a beauty.
And here it is in context with the discarded plastic bottle
It just doesn’t go. It shouldn’t be there and it’s a reminder of the vast amounts of discarded plastic we humans are allowing to overtake our planet. Recycling helps of course, but do we need SO MUCH plastic I have to ask.
You’re probably already aware of the plastic problem so I won’t bang on about it. While I was in the US I refused plastic straws given with any drinks ordered in cafes and restaurants. One place didn’t offer them – a small start but it was encouraging to see it nonetheless.
That flash of pink in the treetops…..what was it?
We’d just embarked on the walk along by Forty Acre Lake at Brazos Bend State Park, when a ruffling kerfuffle of pink erupted in the mid-distance treetops.
My brain said “Flamingoes? Here?” My binoculars said “Roseate Spoonbills – 4 of them!”
This was a first ever sighting of these rather weird large waders, with their prehistoric-looking spoon-shaped bills. What a treat! A trip to Brazos Bend is always rewarding, but the spoonbills made this trip even more so.
These birds were heavily persecuted in the late 1800s when feathered hats were in vogue and they all but died out, thanks to vain fashion and plume hunters. Thankfully they have made a recovery but the message is clear: persecute and destruction and/or extinction will follow.
What a treat it was to see these birds. The photo isn’t great – I was lucky to get it – but you’ll get the overall impact of this stunning, peculiar, wonderful bird.
On a perfect, warm sunny day, with low humidity, these are some of the wild flowers I saw growing in Brazos Bend State Park last week.
There were insects, birds, turtles and alligators too – more on these to follow.
In the UK, birders would travel miles – maybe to Rutland Water in the Midlands or maybe to Aviemore in Scotland – to see ospreys, amazingly powerful and graceful birds who fish from lakes, catching large fish in their powerful talons.
In Houston, Texas, it’s not unusual or remarkable at all to find an osprey flying low over a local reservoir which is part of a country park. This one was out in broad daylight, flying overhead and calling as it clutched its large catch. All this against the distant backdrop and roar of a busy tollway.
We watched it – no binoculars were needed as it was so close – as it sought and found a perch on a nearby telegraph pole and proceeded to tuck into it with that powerful beak.
What a treat for the eyes to see it. The photo’s not perfect as it was taken against the light, but it conveys the size of both bird and fish.
I could hear the distinctive sound of a Northern Cardinal’s “birdybirdybirdy” call but I couldn’t see it anywhere.
It was like playing hide and seek in the backyard/garden trying to locate it and spot it. It was nearby. I looked up. Not on the wires or telegraph pole. Not on the roof. Not on the still-bare branches of one of the trees.
Returning to the house, I noticed a rather alarming-looking long legged insect loitering around one of the evergreen bushes near the door. Spotting what looked like an orange ball caught deep in the branches, I saw it wasn’t a ball at all. I’d found my singing cardinal.
He was watching me intently, having gone quiet as I was nearby. We eyeballed each other, pausing in a shared moment of stillness. He was beautiful.
I seized the moment and took a few shots of him, then he hopped away, deeper into the bush and I went into the house. I’m hoping he was one half of a pair, as I’d seen the female fly across the garden when I first went out.
And as it’s spring, they may be nesting.
This 650 year old tree is in Attingham Park, Shrewsbury. It was looking pretty good in a gnarled, bumpy and ancient way, standing proud and solid amongst the younger whipper snappers of trees hanging around nearby.
The park has a lot of ancient trees. This one is called the Repton Oak, named after Humphry Repton, a garden designer who worked on the grounds at Attingham in the late 1700s.
The bare branches rising above the broad trunk remind me of long hair wildly standing on end.
The textures of the old lumpy trunk, with the smooth, younger bare branch set against them make a pleasing contrast.
The woods at Attingham Park, a National Trust property near Shrewsbury, were carpeted in snowdrops.
I’ve never seen so many all together and am thinking of other words to describe their numbers – blanketed, strewn, smothered, ankle-deep, profuse – those will do for starters.
I’m also speculating on how many there were – where was the millionth, billionth, trillionth snowdrop, for instance?
On a warm sunny day – too warm really for February – they were a delight to behold.
The other sight to delight was a yellow Brimstone butterfly, showing it’s bright primrose wings off in the sunshine.