After getting back from Nebraska it seemed a shame not to use my rented 400 mm lens during the last few days of my rental period. So, instead of heading home to much-needed sleep, I drove straight through Houston to Galveston, TX, which is well-known for the diversity of shorebirds that it attracts.
Saturday, Galveston was shrouded in fog, which made photography difficult — I have hundreds of shots of mist-veiled birds, but by using my car as a blind, I was able to sneak up on quite a few birds, getting close enough for a good photo despite the clinging clouds.
My most interesting find, though, was undoubtedly this carcass of a juvenile dolphin. Though gnawed and decomposing, it’s readily identifiable, and gave me the chance to check out some cetacean anatomy up close and personal.
A little gross, maybe, but also very cool, and also, perhaps, prescient imagery, given the disastrous 170,000 gallon oil spill that took place on Saturday, just hours after my visit.
It was, at first, strange to go back — after my graduate school misadventures, driving back felt like a reminder of my own failures, and of a particularly rough time during my own life. The weather didn’t help much, either: Tuesday’s drive was a terrifying haul through clouds, wind and billowing snow.
But on Wednesday morning, the sky was clear. Frozen grass sparkled like gold, and I got to watch cranes fly under a perfect blue and yellow dawn.
I’ve seen Sandhills before, and in Australia I had the privilege of seeing both Brolgas and Sarus Cranes, but these sightings of solitary birds simply don’t compare to the awesome sight (or the sound!) of a hundred birds packed together, trilling and trumpeting at each other from a narrow stretch of sand.
Later in the day, I watched cranes feed together in groups of two or three in empty fields, surrounded by broken stalks of corn. Occasionally, they’d stop to dance, practice for their more serious courtship when they finally resume their migration to Alaska.
After a quick coffee break, I headed down to Kearney, where I stood with dozens of other birdwatchers to watch them tumble down to roost at night, jostling for space on a sandbar, or wading ankle-deep in the braided channels of the Platte River.
Wow. It’s been a while, hasn’t it, blog friends? How are you? I’m doing really well! I’m back in the United States, applying to graduate programs, and spent the last year taking lots of photos. I couldn’t be happier if I tried.
Anyway, I’m hoping to update the blog more often. I’m not going to make any promises, because clearly those promises cannot be relied upon, but I would like a more formal environment than tumblr to post nature photography and writing (not that I don’t love you, tumblr) … and I have this perfectly good blog just lying around.
I’m planning on driving up to Nebraska on Monday to get in some photos of the annual sandhill crane migration through the state, and I rented a 400 mm lens to prepare for the adventure. Yesterday, I took that lens out for a test run on the birds of Brazos Bend State Park, here in Texas. I had a very good birding day, and took home some shots that I’m quite happy with, even though the lens definitely takes some getting used to.