Thursday, July 23, 2009

Barn and Cliff Swallows

Have you been startled by birds as you walked beside a bridge in Texas? Sometimes it seems like bats coming out of a cave when you approach these little birds nesting under a bridge. Each year, we have Barn Swallows right here in The Woodlands, under the bridge over Lake Woodlands on lake Woodlands Dr. We also have Cliff Swallows under the Kuykendahl bridge over Bear Creek (at the reservoir dam). These are Barn Swallows.
I have observed and photographed them the last two years, so I am going to share a few photographs. They are not easy to photograph and I did a rather poor job, but here they are anyway. You have to follow them in your lens at the same speed they are moving and that is a big challenge when the creature seems to move at the speed of light! They rarely give you a chance to think about what you are doing. Cliff Swallows and Barn Swallows will share a bridge and nest about April or May. I have seen them when fishing and on a photograph session one day late this Spring. Both species are also easy to spot in some areas along SH 290 on the way to Austin, but I believe what I saw there were mostly Cliff Swallows. I saw a large group of them flying near a pond. Both species like to be near water, typically flying and catching bugs over the water. Another reason they nest near the water is that they use mud to build their nests.

This intricate mud nest at the bridge on Lake Woodlands was too high for me to see the chicks inside. The parents were flying in and out quickly. Bridges are ideal for nesting purposes because of the rain and heat protection they provide.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fire Flickers in the forest

In the forest of The Woodlands, on any given night when there is rain, one may see the fire in the sky flickering through the tall pines. The fiery bolts dance about in the wind high above our heads, somehow connected to the natural setting about us.

As we turn on our hearing senses, we become aware of the frogs singing out for rain. Meanwhile, we contemplate when we will ever see the rain again. This has been a hot dry summer. An evening with the threat of rain is appreciated.

A show like this in the evening makes rain concerns all go away. Roll of thunder, flickering fire lights, wisps of wind and the singing of frogs.

What more can one ask for on a summer night in the forest?