My idea of a vacation is to be out in the wilderness as far away from people and as close to nature as possible. As an outdoorsy adjunct to a family visit in Houston, we stayed at a working ranch in the Texas countryside.
The fortunate delight of our isolated and rustic cabin was the beautiful barred owl whose territory we happened to occupy. Every morning and every night we could always count on seeing him, and often at various other times throughout the day. Not only was he stunning to observe and a skilled, silent flyer, but he was also a “lifer” for us–a bird we had never seen before.
Carolina Wren, Texas
Also outside our front deck was a Carolina Wren who frequently visited a hole in the nearest big tree. After watching this wren just a short time, we soon discovered she was feeding a nest full of chicks.
Other gems we found nearby that we don’t see in California were the painted buntings (wow), northern cardinals (lovely), more wonderful birds, frogs, and turtles, and two snakes.
The first morning we went for a walk outside our cabin. The grass was very tall in places, so we followed our instincts to stay on the path. As we walked along, a startled water snake quickly unwound from his lakeside resting place and ducked into the water before we could get a photo. He swam away and said “good day.”
Painted Bunting, Texas
Texas size snake (not a garden hose)
At one point we were in the car on a road near our cabin when I said, “Stop the car!” Of all the snakes I have seen all over this world, I saw snake behavior I had never seen before. It was a very, very long snake flipping through the air. By the time we got the car stopped, the snake was no longer tumbling. He was moving away quickly, on the ground.
Although this isn’t a very good photo (it all happened so fast), you can at least see how very very long this critter is. OMG! The longest snake I have ever seen! “Texas size” as they like to say in Texas…and they’re not kidding!
Photo credit: Athena Alexander