I Really Like to be in Southern Texas

by Dave Hanks

I REALLY LIKE TO BE IN SOUTHERN TEXAS!

It’s pleasant in winter time, when temperatures are low.

This is the time of year when it’s best to go

To the Rio Grande Valley to enjoy the birdie show.

I REALLY LIKE TO BE IN SOUTHERN TEXAS!

All sorts of perchers like these conditions too

Just put out some feed and they soon come into view.

They are there in abundance, and I will name a few:

I REALLY LIKE TO BE IN SOUTHERN TEXAS!

To see Woodpeckers, Jays, Thrashers, and the Kiskadee;

Cardinals and Titmice, and an Oriole in a tree

And so many, many others, are there for you to see.

One gulf coast denizen is the Tri-Colored Heron. It is also known as the Louisiana Heron. They will be there stalking the shallows to catch and ingest almost anything that they can get down their gullet. This 26 inch tall bird inhabits the saline waters of the gulf’s marshes and mangrove swamps.

Audubon Oriole is another southern Texas joy to find, with its yellow body and black head and neck. Texas has more bird species than any other state in the union, and when we can take a trip there, it is always rewarding.

 

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OUT AND ABOUT

by Dave Hanks



 The snow is fluffily,
			“sifting” down.
		It leaves a thick “carpet-like” covering
				upon the ground.
			 

		Its mystical magic
			that floats on the air.
		And it’s an invigorating joy
				to be out where –
			


		The wonders of life
			move to and fro.
		And lucky we are,
			that much I know,
			


		To have natural treasures
			so close at hand
		And everywhere present
			across sky and land
			


   Winter can be a good time to observe large mammals.
   Heavy snow makes movement inefficient for conserving 
   energy. Energy that is so important for winter survival, 
   when one must compete for the scarcity of available 
   food, and the energy to maintain body temperature under 
   cold conditions. The beasts are reluctant to move
   much, and if you are careful not to stress them, 
   you can get close up and personal.
    

Targee snow and moose

Grizzly – Autumn Preparation

By Carolyn and Dave Hanks – Joint Effort


        Snow flurries hit her face.
	Turning, she raises and sniffs the air.
	She senses the change.
	Leaving the berries upon which she was feeding,
	She keeps moving upwards.
	Instinctively she knows that time is short.
	She must start preparing.
	

	Keeping close to the forested cover,
	She moves toward the White-Bark Pines at the very top.
	Would there be nuts upon which to finish her feasting?
	Not aware of her inter-relationship
	With the Red Squirrel -
	Who drops the cones and caches the nuts for her to raid.
	She moves ever upward,
	Sensing that they will be there.
	Winter is coming but summer and fall had been rich for feasting.
	Her coat glistens and the fat rolls
	Gently beneath her fur.

	Sleep is a problem now.
	She fights an increasing drowsiness.
	Time is not yet quite right
	For her to enter the den.
	That upward sloping hole -
	Dug on a north slope,
	Up on the tree line beneath the roots of a fir.
	It will take a major storm to put her there.
	One that will cover her footprints,
	And leave the landscape buried,
	Her little haven well hidden
	And insulated by the snow until spring.
	It is there that she
	Will bring forth the new cubs.
	A new generation to face the world.
	
	But still,
	Time is not yet quite right.
	Now she must fight on -
	Fight this impending torpor - and feast,
	That things might be right for the new generation.
	The new hope for her species.

      

Searching to satisfy an insatiable hunger

Many Look – Few See

Behold the forest:  Shrub – flower – tree
	Many will look - But few will see

Pine – Aspen – Fir - Schematically intertwined
	Endless plant variety - It boggles the mind

But who knows this?  Who will understand?
	And take time to grasp - The great master plan

Recreate in the car - Pay park entrance fees
	Whizz on through - It’s nothing but trees

But there are animals about - Your eyes must be quick
	To see takes patience - It’s really no trick

But seeing the beasts - Is just the start
	The overall scheme - Is the very best part

You must look and look - This I firmly believe
	But how many times - Must we look to perceive?

To perceive what is there – And not just rely
	On the words of others - But see with our eye!

Developing appreciation  (Is this ode’s thrust)
	of EVERTHING in nature - That is a must!

And help us cope with those - Lord help us please!
	That can’t see the forest - Because of the trees

(Dave Hanks)


Look quick to see Black Bear cubs at the base of a pine.

Nighttime in the Woods

by Dave Hanks

 
        Daylight slowly releases its grip 
                And the dark becomes the master.
        The woodland visitor now escapes this alien realm 
                To seek the security of his bed,
        Whether sleeping bag, or a more protected recluse.
                But when the sun goes down
        The creatures of the night venture forth,
                Creeping so quietly and masked in darkness.
        Sleep locks the drama safely away,
                But insomnia can at times provide clues
        Clues that something is about;
                A scratching, a soft bang, or muted growl;  
        Can tempt one to leave that comforting warmth
               To sate newly aroused curiosity.
        A rich moment to be captured   
               As flashlight beam reveals pairs of glistening eyes!
        Fat, furry bodies or sleek ones with enormous tails,
               Respond with silent retreat only to reappear
        As campground attractions prove too irresistible.
               Normal fear is over shadowed by visceral necessity.
        I have lived these special moments.
               Though somewhat painful to leave one's bed,
        So carefully heated with body warmth and position snugly found,
               The effort well worth the reward.
        Moments treasured long after discomfort of rising
               Has been erased when once the deed is done.
        Experience with earth's wild creatures:
               A never ending source of excitement and wonder!

A Sage Grouse Tale

by Dave Hanks\


Oh how I wish I was cute! How I wish I was clever –
	Enough to cause “chuckles” at my endeavor.
	I would write an ode, I would write a poem,
	About photographing Sage Grouse in their desert home. 

	So I’ll try once more. I’ll try again,
	To tell a grouse tale with paper and pen.
	I needed those grouse – needed their pictures “by gum”,
	And I knew just the place where there might be some.

	So I journey out west, where there’s nary a tree,
	To the Low Sage Plateau with my wife’s company.
	In the evening we went to that wide open space,
	Cause before it gets light, I must be in place.

	Set up my blind by that rock over there.
	Enter at 4:30 AM, with time to spare -
	To be in place before the sun has “riz”,
	And not “spook” the birds. It’s a touchy “biz”.

	In the blind in the dark. I freeze my “butt”,
	But all around I can hear those Sage Grouse strut.
	They boom and they flutter – Their wings beat the air,
	But I’m safely “tucked in” and glad to be where –

	I can get “close-ups” when it finally gets light.
	I can get good photos. They should be alright!
	In time the sun obliged, and “Oh what a sight”!
	Those grouse were strutting – They didn’t take flight!

	There they were, right under my feet.
	Man they were close and that was so “sweet”.
	I shot frame after frame. That I did.
	It was hard to stop. Of that I don’t “kid”.
	
	But a curious Pronghorn seemed out of his mind.
	Bounded right up to look into my blind.
	So off the birds flew. Flew off in their “glory”.
	But I got good pictures – That’s the end of this story!

(Yellow eye brows and air sacs – White ruff and erect tail feathers)

Nighttime in the Woods

Daylight slowly releases its grip 
          And the dark becomes the master.
The woodland visitor now escapes this alien realm 
	To seek the security of his bed,
Whether sleeping bag, or a more protected recluse.
	But when the sun goes down
The creatures of the night venture forth,
	Creeping so quietly and masked in darkness.
Sleep locks the drama safely away,
	But insomnia can at times provide clues
Clues that something is about;
	A scratching, a soft bang, or muted growl;  
Can tempt one to leave that comforting warmth
	To sate newly aroused curiosity.
A rich moment to be captured   
	As flashlight beam reveals pairs of glistening eyes!
Fat, furry bodies or sleek ones with enormous tails,
	Respond with silent retreat only to reappear
As campground attractions prove too irresistible.
	Normal fear is over shadowed by visceral necessity.
I have lived these special moments.
	Though somewhat painful to leave one's bed,
So carefully heated with body warmth and position snugly found,
	The effort well worth the reward.
Moments treasured long after discomfort of rising
	Has been erased when once the deed is done.
Experience with earth's wild creatures:
	A never ending source of excitement and wonder!  

Eyes in the Night