Saturday, December 27, 2014

Best of 2014: June

Red-Winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

In late June 2014, I made my first trip to Lake Charles, La., in the southwest corner of the state. The official excuse was an ordination I participated in as deacon, but I spent an extra day and a half to explore the awesome ecology of the area.

I have many wonderful photos from the trip. A number of photos from a day with a guide exploring a marsh rookery by boat have been very well received on Google+. A shot of a little blue heron has been viewed almost 5,000 times and held the record of 88 +1's for a couple months.

But the one above is my favorite. What could be more ordinary than a red-winged blackbird among cattails? What could be more satisfying than seeing and showing the beauty in the ordinary? 

This encounter happened at a spot I found on my own. If you're ever in the Lake Charles area, I highly recommend a drive south from the city toward the Gulf on a highway called the Creole Nature Trail (Hwy 27). The field edges, irrigation canals and road ditches of the upper stretch of the highway offer plenty of dragonflies, wildflowers, grasses and birds. 

But you'll soon come to the Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge, and within the refuge on the east side of the highway, the Pintail Wildlife Drive. This is a marsh with an elevated loop road meant to be driven at a slow rate of speed. You will be rewarded.

The instructions at the entrance are to stay in your car--for good reason. If you sense eyeballs lookin' at you, it will most likely be one of the many curious 'gators that raise their heads and come to check you out!

But at one point along the drive, a parking lot and a large loop of boardwalk enable you to walk right out into the marsh. I had it to myself that Saturday afternoon. Moving slowly and quietly, pausing to enjoy the breeze, look and take photos, this red-winged blackbird allowed me to get within range of my 70-210 zoom. 

Oh, and I did see a pintail, but did not get within range of it!

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