Category Archives: wildlife

White Rock Lake, Dallas – 2

Happy Earth Day! White Rock Lake is home to flora and fauna that boost the happy.

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A pair of coots

The coot’s white bill and dark feathers and its bobbing motions make it Chaplinesque.

The Filter Building sits on the southwest bank of White Rock Lake.

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The Filter Building once housed a system to purify lake water for city consumption. In the 1950s, the city began to rely on its other lakes for water, so the Filter Building stopped serving its original function. Today you can rent it for private and corporate events.

Glad they left the name and the very cool sign untouched.

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Mauve magic of Texas mountain laurel

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Coot stalking

The white structure is a boat garage.

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The water looks fine. Let’s go.

I took these pictures one misty morning last month. Here’s a sunny day post on White Rock Lake from four years ago.

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Bethany Lakes Park – Allen, Texas

This Allen gem has four lakes, each with its own personality.

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Mostly mallards

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Reflecting pool

A walking trail surrounds this lake.
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This stopped me in my tracks:

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Anhingas and gulls

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Unparalleled parking

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About to nail the landing

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Soli-tree

These pics are from last weekend when temps rose to 60+ Fahrenheit. Not the norm for winter, but this is Texas where temps drop 20 degrees in as many minutes when cold fronts hit.

Look at the pics in these Yelp reviews of this very park. Spring! Canada geese. Picnics. Possibilities.

Here’s the City of Allen listing for Bethany Lakes Park.

Klyde Warren Park, Dallas

This tranquil gem sits at the heart of downtown Dallas. Traffic whizzes about and under it and high-rise buildings stand like sentinels around it. The park is a Buddha ‘midst the buzz. Its well-kept spaces include a botanical garden, a children’s park, and a dog park.

20171028_133412.jpgTuck into a falafel sandwich or just-baked pizza from the nearby food trucks.

20171028_133123.jpgAmble through the botanical garden, home to native plants, including this monarch magnet, the lantana.

Here are some monarch shots from a sunny October day.

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Monarchs migrate through North Texas twice a year. Once in the fall en route to Mexico, route reversed in the spring. Pollinator-friendly plants in the park’s Monarch Wrangler section give these beautiful butterflies a place to rest and refuel.

20171030_170045.jpgBottom of sign: This site demonstrates beneficial conservation management practices for the monarch butterfly and other pollinator species producing tangible values for natural resources and our Texan way of life.

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Flanking a botanical garden walkway are pink muhly on the left and mealy blue sage and lantana on the right, all drought-resistant Texas natives.

Apart from food trucks for noshing and green spaces for chilling, KWP has outdoor ping pong tables and a reading room. Weekend yoga, capoeira, tai chi and meditation classes make it a community wellness hub. The park even has a performance pavilion for music concerts.

Plan a visit to Klyde Warren Park.

Cheep thrills

When it comes to building a home, some say location is everything.

house finch nest

house finch pair

Just ask Mom (right) and Dad (left). Can you guess what birds they are?

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Look at their finch-astic creation and its “pebbled” rim.

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Tucked in a carport nook

My apartment community has 3 banks of carports with a total of 70 nooks (possible nest sites). Fourteen of those nooks have nests in them. Carports closer to the tree-lined property edge and adjoining field have four times as many nests (12 of 42 nooks) as those near the interior (2 of 28). Makes me wonder if easy access to twigs and leaves (building materials) drove nook selection.

house finch nest

Short on neatness, big on warmth

house finch nest

The other nests are mansions compared to this one, but its Birdie B&B listing reads, “Cozy nook offers eggs-cellent shelter and total privacy.”

house finch nest

Talk about green building!

I walked over to the two adjoining sister properties to check their carports.

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That “pebbled” rim again

house finch nest

house finch nest

Active recyclers with a zero carbon footprint

By building nests in carports, house finches enjoy protection from raptors and tree-climbing kitties, as well as shelter from the elements. I’m in awe of the little fliers for their design skills, building prowess, resourcefulness and strategic thinking. And they sing! Their chirpy tweets help me greet each day with a smile.

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What’s that bird?
I turned to this most awesome field guide to narrow it down.American Bird Conservancy's Field Guide: All the Birds of North America

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The range maps for redpolls, bramblings and Cassin’s finches don’t include Texas, so those birds are out. Besides, the male redpoll has a small red cap, but Dad has a lot more red on his head. So it comes down to purple finch or house finch. Given Dad’s red head and chest (but no red on his back), it’s a house finch pair.

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This photogenic pair made identification a snap.

20170620_052236I have an older edition of All the Birds of North America, the American Bird Conservancy’s Field Guide. One of my most loved books. It was prescribed for an Intro to Birding continuing ed class I took at UT Arlington several years ago. I love the guide for ease of identification, water-resistant pages (in case you drop it in a pond), and small check boxes in the index (think life list). Amazon has a newer edition.

All About Birds by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is an amazing online resource. I learned that house finches “nest in a variety of deciduous and coniferous trees as well as on cactus and rock ledges. They also nest in or on buildings, using sites like vents, ledges, street lamps, ivy, and hanging planters.”

The print and online guides were my ID mainstay for the longest time.

But now there’s an app for it!
The magical Merlin Bird ID app (North America) suggests a location-based “bird pack” upon download. Five easy questions on location, date of sighting, bird size, main colors, behavior — and boom! — house finch.

Do I like the precision, speed, and convenience of the app? Absolutely. But I still have a soft corner for the print guide. Using range maps and matching coloration/markings on birds I see to beautiful illustrations works the brain and brings a different kind of thrill. Call it finding as much joy in the journey as in reaching the destination (that’s my bird!).

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P.S. I made sure to take nest photos when the parents were out foraging so as not to startle or alarm them. As an extra precaution, I took the pics sans flash, and all from below.

Crowley Park, Richardson

On a post-dawn walk through Crowley Park, I noticed it has something for everyone.

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Whether you picnic with friends in the pavilion,

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flop down for some “me” time,

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or hit the trail that circles the park

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for a flower-flecked walk or run,

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you’ll find views that thrill

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and views that soothe.

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Have tots with energy to burn? The park has two play areas, this one ringed with trees.

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Takin’ a breather without robin the bank

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means you sit on a deck

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watching ducks and turtles gather.

At ~58 acres, Crowley Park is the second largest of Richardson’s neighborhood parks. What strikes me is the city’s meticulous care in keeping the place pristine. Add me to Yelpers who love Crowley Park.

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Correction: In the original post, I stated that Crowley Park is Richardson’s largest. But it isn’t. Breckinridge Park (~417 acres) is. I love Breck, too!
– Gita, 13 May 2017

Bob Woodruff Park, Plano – North Pavilion

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It’s a Sun-day!

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Wakey, wakey

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Behold a bunch of Bob Ross do’s.

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Plan a party.

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Enjoy the pier and now.

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Jog the 0.9-mile trail around the lake.

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Have a beautiful day!

These shots are all from the North Pavilion side of Bob Woodruff Park. Here’s a location map. As I was driving home, a gorgeous grove by the South Pavilion called to me, but my to-do list was louder. Stay tuned for a separate post with photos.

Added 27 November 2016: Bob Woodruff Park, Plano – South Pavilion

Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve, Plano

Having explored this park one evening a couple weeks ago, I went back today morning to hear the birds’ dawn chorus.

Approach from the parking lot to the lake

Approach from the parking lot to the lake

Picnic pavilion at sunrise

Picnic pavilion at sunrise

A brisk walk on the 0.88-mile paved trail around the lake takes me 15 minutes. More than 5 miles of soft trails wind through the adjacent meadows and woods.

A brisk walk on the 0.88-mile paved trail around the lake takes me 15 minutes. More than 5 miles of soft trails wind through the adjacent meadows and woods.

Walk in the woods along Old Oaks Trail, where you'll find some of the city's most mature oak trees.

Walk in the woods along Old Oaks Trail, where you’ll find some of the city’s most mature oak trees.

Majestic oak, your roots are showing, and they are beautiful. That this tall tree stays rooted sideways to the creek bank is a structural marvel.

Majestic oak, your roots are showing, and they are beautiful. That this tall tree stays rooted sideways to the creek bank is a structural marvel.

As I leave the chirp-filled woods, I see this graceful heron seek out breakfast.

As I leave the chirp-filled woods, I see this graceful heron seek out breakfast.

On the City of Plano web page for Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve, you’ll find park hours, a trail map and more.