Days in White Satin

If things go as scheduled in the coming weeks (and that is a big fingers crossed) we should be back on the hunt come April. Last year we received some very sad news at this time requiring us to cancel our plans to catch the bird migration at Dauphin Island, Alabama (link here). To be honest, the loss has yet to transition from the “difficult” stage – every holiday, every noteworthy experience and every milestone that has happened since has been paired with a sour element knowing we wouldn’t be able to share it with her. That trip has now been rescheduled, although something tells me I’ll be thinking less about the Gulf crossers and more about the time spent trying to express the appreciation for all she had done for us. It is what I didn’t get the chance to say that saddens me the most.

With the coming travels, I am trying to stay on top of the posts in between working on the latest batches of images from Texas and now Vegas. I do have a pretty good safety net thanks to a number of really nice features Brad has added to the queue. I’ll definitely be rolling a few of those out this month and then leverage his larger efforts while we are traveling. Found this series of images from last year’s Texas shoot. This beautiful white Duck is what triggered the memories.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I generally refrain from featuring “domestic” waterfowl. That doesn’t mean I do not fill up my digital cards when we encounter them, rather tend to put them to the side assuming our readers would rather read/learn about wilder encounters. Every once in a while, the end products turn out pretty nice and I go ahead and add them to the queue (link here). I think this series fits that select category.

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of our Duck in white satin.

It is always a toss-up when it comes to the hybrids and domestics. For simplicity, I’m just going to put this particular specimen in the Pekin Duck category. If you happen to head down to your local park or urban watering hole, there is a good chance one (likely more) will be slowly paddling away keeping an eye out for any visitors carrying bread sacks. Maybe you will even see some of their friends adorned in whatever colors happen to dominate the intermixed gene pool. This particular specimen had some likely Mallard lines in its entourage.

These three happen to glide by as we were exploring Guadalupe River State Park just north of San Antonio, Texas. I believe it is technically located in Spring Branch. Full credit to Linda who found this particular spot for us to visit. Considered one the most beautiful rivers in Texas, the part of Guadalupe that runs through this state park is breathtaking (link here). Definitely narrower and shallower than the granddaddies that run through Illinois, but the surrounding scenery will bring peace to any soul. We made a point to put this spot on our Texas itinerary this year.

The State Park has a number of campsites and day-use spots, complete with numerous trails, easy access to the river itself and best of all…a well maintained bird blind. That first year we visited, there were not a lot of other people. Felt like we had the entire park to ourselves. This year we arrived on the 2nd and must have bumped up against the New Year’s crowd. A completely different story, the place was absolutely packed. We waited in line at the entrance for over 30 minutes. Thankfully we had campsite reservations which gave us a reserved entry, those that did not preregister or were not staying overnight were being turned away.

The campground was surprisingly quiet this year, but the river area, wow, was that LOUD. Linda is tired of me bitching about this, but ever since we were turned on to the Merlin Sound ID App, it has become glaringly obvious humans are ridiculous noise polluters. In the past I passed it off as random bursts of excited children at play – based on the near blackness produced by the soundmap, it is nonstop – everyone practically screams just conversing with other individuals merely feet away. Merlin also picks up all the plane roars, car burping and cycle rumbles often subliminally filtered out from years of exposure. Bird must think our ears only function as balance weights to stand upright.

I mention this contrast primarily to point out how shocked I was when I spotted these exact same three ducks on our visit this year. Like in our first encounter, slowly paddling the waters seemingly without a care in the world. The water was significantly lower this year so there wasn’t the silky dark backdrop we saw in this series which, I think, makes the shots in this particular series.

There is so much more I need to explore in this state park. If you get a chance to visit, I highly recommend checking out the Woodland Blind which is near marker 5 and then taking the River Overlook Trail labeled as 3 on this map (link here). You will want to go straight through the Discovery Center Loop, walk up a small hill and take the trail to the right. After a short walk, you will find yourself on a limestone bluff overlooking the river and the Bauer Unit area which I plan to spend more time in on our next trip – unless you cross the river, that area is only accessed by another gate opposite the main entrance. Have a seat on the ledges, breathe in the gorgeous scenery, collect your thoughts and recall the good times.

Goodbye Mom.

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