24 Nov

Mitchell Lake Audubon Wetlands Walk, San Antonio, Texas

Susan Alton

Susan Alton

Susan Alton

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Birds, Dragonflies and Spiders, Oh My!

My 10K Volksmarch today was at Mitchell Lake Audubon Wetlands in
south San Antonio. I would have started much earlier than 8:25 a.m., but
the wetlands don’t open until 8 a.m. When I arrived at the Audubon
Society, I had to go into the office to pay my $2 admission fee and sign
in for the Volksmarch. The man working at the Audubon Society was very
chatty and that took another 15 minutes or so.

A tour
of two people was ready to head out for a bird survey. I guess they try
to identify as many birds as they can on the survey.

Upon leaving the building and passing by beautiful, butterfly-attracting flowers, I had to photograph a butterfly or two.

Monarch butterfly (danaus plexippus)
Monarch butterfly backlit by sun.

The first birds I encountered were a family of purple martins on a line.

Purple martins.

Today was enjoyable because I could take my time,
listen to bird calls, and try to spot elusive birds (not too successful
on the elusive birds). Here are interesting finds along my path…

Hairy-looking seed pods.

A couple of wild rabbits darted across my path, but they were too fast; no chance to get my camera in position for a photo.

Silver-leaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium)
Wild petunia (Ruellia sp.)
Carolina wren.

When the Bird Pond appeared on my right, I started
looking for water birds, but didn’t see any other than the great egrets.
As I walked, a casual glance to my left almost made me wet my pants. I
am petrified of spiders and what I saw was a HUGE orb spider sitting in
the middle of a web that was, I’d guess, four feet across. The spider in
the middle, including legs, was as big as my palm.

Golden orb spider in the middle of its web.
Golden orb spider.
Golden orb spider.
Northern rough-winged swallow.
House finch.
House finch.

While walking near the Bird Pond, I met a man and asked him what birds he had seen. His name is Jim and he writes a blog called Jim’s Assorted, Usually Photographic, Ramblings.
He said he wasn’t looking for birds but was looking for dragonflies.
That’s his specialty. In fact, in front of us was an Eastern Pondhawk
dragonfly, perched beautifully, waiting for its photo to be taken. You
can find his photos on his blog. I was able to capture the Eastern
Pondhawk as well. Jim explained to me that this particular dragonfly is
very mean to other dragonflies and bugs. I would have missed it if it
wasn’t for Jim pointing it out to me.

Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly.

Once he pointed out that Mitchell Lakes is a good
place to spot dragonflies and damselflies, I was on the lookout and you
will find a couple more photos of dragonflies today.

Identification, anyone?
Four-spotted pennant.
Roseate skimmer.

As I rounded the corner from the Bird Pond headed for
East Poulder, it was full sun ahead: 85-90 degrees with relatively high
humidity. My best birding of the day took place in East and West
Poulder ponds. The black-necked stilts are in residence and they are
gorgeous. They also make quite a racket when a threat comes around.

Black-bellied whistling duck family.
Black-necked stilt
Least sandpiper and killdeer.
Four black-necked stilts in a row.
Black-bellied whistling duck.
Black-bellied whistling duck and willett.

Every once in a while you find something you don’t
see everyday, like a turtle or armadillo remains. The turtle below was
trucking along the trail until I came along, then it got all shy.


Armadillo remains.
Snowy egret fishing.
Neotropic cormorants.
Orb spiders were everywhere today!

Self portrait. Don’t you love the hat?
Cacti ready to bloom.
Orb spider in front of cacti.
Beautiful blooms outside the visitor center.

By the end of this walk (which lasted three hours), I
was beat. Couldn’t wait to get inside the visitor center. The desk
person helped me identify the birds in the photos, although he wasn’t
sure about the sanderling because the photo was so small on my camera

I really enjoy my alone time on walks like this
when I can go at my own pace, look for birds and photograph to my
hearts content. I would love to learn the songs of different birds to
identify them as it isn’t always possible to spot them.


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