Fall Colors

You may have heard that there aren’t a lot of  trees in the Texas Panhandle and most of the ones we do have don’t really change color in the fall; it’s more like the burnt leaves of late summer finally just give up an fall off.    A lot of Chinese Elms were planted in town when people were trying to make their yards more inviting and the leaves of these trees are so bug eaten by fall that they are just a scaffolding of shriveled stems and veins.  Mesquite leaves just fade before they fall. Scrub cedars stay green all year and the Salt Cedars turn a brilliant orange and then leave reddish limbs that are kind of pretty.  Cottonwoods in the creek beds flash yellow for a week or so before dropping their leaves and an occasional oak will splash a little dark red around, but that’s about it for color.

But if you get out early enough and can catch the sun low in that huge dome of the sky you can get some pretty spectacular colors reflected in the ponds below the dam at Meredith.  Right now the cattails and grasses are dry and pale yellow and the early light gives them a golden glow which reflects off the still waters of the pond in ways that will take your breath away.  Add the red clay cliffs and the white granite and even the gray concrete of the spillways and you come up with some pretty colorful photos.

Unfortunately there hasn’t been a lot of birds around to take photos of and I’m not really a landscape photographer, although I’ve taken a few and posted some in the Galleries.  I was able to get a few shots this week and even saw a new bird for my lists, so here’s the pics.

An American Coot.  american-coot-22-1280x801

Lesser Scaup pair.lesser-scaup-27-1280x792

This is another Lesser Scaup.  I like how sharp the line is between the grass reflection and the spillway reflection and then it gets broken up in the foreground by ripples from the scaups.lesser-scaup-22-1280x807

A Belted Kingfisher fishes from a chain link fence topped with barbed-wire and a wicked coil of razor-wire.  The fences were put up at the entrance to the canyon during the Homeland Security frenzy after the 9/11 attacks.  It’s only about  a hundred foot long and even if the gate was closed would be easy enough to walk around.  Even if a terrorist blew up the dam, it wouldn’t be that much of a disaster as the water in the lake is so low that you’d have to dig a channel after you blew the dam to get water to run out of the lake.  Oh well, makes an interesting picturebelted-kingfisher-30-1280x855

Here’s the new addition to my life and year lists–a White-throated Sparrow.  It’s not an uncommon bird in the area, this is just the first time I’ve seen it.  Or it may be just the first time I’ve realized that it isn’t a White-crowned Sparrow.white-throated-sparrow-1280x915

I saw this Northern Harrier perched on some sort of railing that was partially buried in the silt of the dry lake bed.northern-harrier-55-1280x888

And the obligatory Bald Eagles.  Still haven’t been able to get very close to them yet.  They are sitting on a sandbar that earlier in the year was near the middle of the lake, but is now a long peninsula off the north-west shoreline.  Ten or fifteen years ago this would have been under 50-60 feet of water.bald-eagle-377-1280x835

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