Lonely Bird

Trinity River Audubon Center
Dallas, Texas

Trinity River Audubon Center, Dallas, Texas

Trinity River Audubon Center, Dallas, Texas

I’m not a nature photographer – I don’t have the knowledge, patience, or equipment to do well at that. Still, here’s a little bird in the middle of a drying wetland pond on a hot Texas day, looking for a bit of lunch. He looks a little lonely, don’t you think?

Hamburger Fries & Drink

hamburger

I see so many cars parked around a big corporate fast food place – so many queued up at the window, waiting for their flavorless extruded hunk of scientifically engineered food-like substance. So much substance with so little sustenance. Offset printed plastic focus-group tested graphics, tied in with billion-dollar commercial campaigns carefully crafted to make you jump at the sight of their logo like baby birds at a squirming worm.

Meanwhile so many family owned greasy spoons go wanting with their hand-painted cracked stucco signs. The food might not be better, it might even be greasier, but at least it is real.

Hornets Working in the Summer

Trinity River Audubon Center
Dallas, Texas

Hornets (or Wasp)s at the Trinity River Audubon Center

Wasps at the Trinity River Audubon Center

Are these hornets or wasps? Looking around the internet, they are probably wasps – their narrow heads and bodies might be the clue. I like the word hornet better, though. It sounds that much more dangerous and mean. And these little bastards looked plenty mean.

It was an ungodly hot day – well over the century mark. Everything else was slowed down, resting, waiting on the cool of the evening or for fall – but these guys were buzzing away, working on their home and future family. It was along a trail that ran between a couple of mostly-desiccated ponds. The paper nest was tucked beneath a the low canopy of a feathery row of bushes. I heard them before a saw them.

There is a strange beauty in this cluster of concentrated pain and meanness. The slick thin black bodies, whirring wings, and delicate paper nest with its precise geometry of hexagonal cells.

A Hot Day at the Audubon Center

I have been to the Trinity River Audubon Center once before – when I rode my bike there to visit Ruben Ochoa’s sculpture Flock in Space. It had been installed there as part of the Nasher Xchange sculpture series. I rode my bike across the city, visiting all ten and writing about it.

This morning I took a look at the internet, looking for something to do and came across a listing that pointed out that admission to the Audubon Center is only a buck in July and August. This might seem a little odd to someone not from here – why would admission to an outdoor center be reduced during the height of the summer? It is, of course, because the summer is flooded with toxic heat.

So I drove down there as close to opening in the morning as I could manage and it wasn’t too bad. At least not for a few minutes. I paid my dollar (an put some more in the donation bucket) and started walking the trails. They advised to check out the wetland and prairie trails first and then visit the shady wooded section – as the day warmed up.

It warmed up fast – the temperature climbed to over the century mark within a couple hours. I did carry my insulated growler full of iced water and that helped a lot.

The Center has a few miles of trails and I was able to walk them all. Even though it was hot and dry (most of the wetlands were more like mudlands) I enjoyed the variety of the geography – swampy, open areas, and thick woods. The Center is built on a recovered landfill and that gives it an array of terrain you don’t see in such a small place in North Texas.

I didn’t take to many photographs, but I had a good time and want to go back soon.

Especially when it isn’t so hot.

I think this is an American  White Ibis

I think this is an American White Ibis

Trinity River Audubon Center

Trinity River Audubon Center