Wild Animals!

Every visit to the LBJ National Grasslands is an adventure that usually involves hunting for mushrooms.  But the last two weeks have been particularly exciting. With Spring around the corner the animals are coming out to play.


February 12, 2017
The first stop:  Black Creek Lake.

I heard rustling of leaves and decided to investigate.  I walked briskly toward the noise.   I thought I saw something scramble underneath a pile of leaves.  I aimed the camera and waited.  Nothing.

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I glanced to the right of where I was pointing my camera.  There it was.  Staring at me.  I was too stunned to scream or yelp.  And I didn’t have the vocabulary to identify this creature.

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I knew it wasn’t a rat, mouse or possum – all three creatures I’ve had the misfortune of encountering.  I rattled off other options to my friend.  Maybe it’s a mole or vole?   Careful Google sleuthing produced the answer:  Texas Pocket Gopher.  It has a face only its mother could love.  Look at those teeth.

The next excitement was a group of buzzards cleaning up some roadkill.  The setting was perfect.  My friend parked the car along the trail and waited for me (apparently I’m the only one that has a fascination with buzzards and roadkill).

Even though it was a little chilly outside, I opted to lose my bright blue jacket.  I needed to be stealthy for this task.  I took large, careful steps toward my subjects.  From a distance they didn’t notice me but as I got closer they were alarmed and left their meal on the road.  I planted myself on the side of the road, stalking my prey, hoping they’d return to their meal.  Instead, the buzzards flew to the trees and observed me.

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February 19, 2017
The first stop:  Black Creek Lake

My friend and I parked the car and I mentioned my hope for another gopher sighting.  I got out of the car and noticed the buzzards circling the area – as if mocking me from the last visit.  I gathered my gear from the back of the car and heard a strange sound.  Is it a buzzard coming after me?  It sounded bird-like.

I peered around the car and was surprised to see a cardinal… on the mirror.  It flew away and then returned to the mirror.  I was fortunate to have my iPhone to snap the photo.

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Cell reception is very spotty at the entire LBJ National Grasslands but as we were leaving, I tried to share the photo with friends on Facebook.  (I was engrossed in the task)

My friend Tore said, “are those wild turkeys?”

I looked out the window and there they were.  Wild turkeys.   I rolled down my window and snapped photos.  But I wasn’t satisfied.  Tore parked the car and suggested I use a telephoto lens.  But there wasn’t enough time to switch lenses.  I decided to chase the turkeys with my macro lens.

That didn’t go well.

They scare easily.

But I did manage a decent photo of the turkeys frantically running away from me.  Imagine if I had used my telephoto lens.  Ugh.  But at least I have proof of wild turkeys at the LBJ National Grasslands!

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Like every week, I can’t wait to return.  This is my Disney World – except it’s quiet, peaceful, free and full of natural wonder and awe.  😉


Camera:  Canon EOS 5D Mark IV (aka Rockalita Sunshine)
Lens:  My beloved 100 mm macro lens (Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L macro IS)
Notes:  Pack a camera and go explore nature.