As I mentioned in my last post, I spent last week on a family vacation near Corpus Christi, Texas. The kids really liked swimming in the ocean, looking for shells, and playing in the sand. I enjoyed all of those things too, but I also spent quite a bit of time wandering the beaches and adjacent dunes with my camera.
It was fun to see what the waves were washing up on the beach. Even the trash – and there was a lot of that – was interesting.
There were others walking the beach too – especially gulls and various shorebirds. I was just looking for interesting objects and photo subjects. The birds were looking for food.
The starkest reminders that I was far from the prairies of Nebraska were the crabs. Those of you who have followed this blog for a while know about my minor obsession about photographing crab spiders in prairies. I think I could probably develop a similar addiction to photographing crabs. They’re just so otherworldly and fantastic.
Tiger beetles were a more familiar sight to me than the crabs. I know tiger beetles, though not the species I was seeing on the beach last week. It turns out beach tiger beetles are just as fun to stalk with a camera as those in prairies. And their faces are just as cute.
Unfortunately, much of what we saw washed up along the beaches was debris from the human race. A huge range of objects, especially plastic ones, were strewn about along the base of the dunes. I tried for a while to compose photos that avoided the trash, but eventually gave up and just photographed the trash itself.
While the beaches were pretty different from prairies, the dunes right next to them felt much more like home. As I walked through them, I felt as if I should know the plants I was seeing. They looked just like prairie plants I am familiar with in Nebraska except that they weren’t quite. I saw grasses that were almost prairie sandreed, wildflowers that were almost purple prairie clover, and many others. If I squinted my eyes, it felt like home.
Not only did walking the dunes feel familiar, photographing the little creatures living in them did too. I heard this cicada before I saw it, and was able to slowly creep up close enough for a photo.
Grasshoppers were very abundant in the dunes. Every time I stopped to photograph one, I’d see several others right next to it. The result was a kind of neverending cascade of photographic opportunities. Even with a stiff breeze blowing, I managed to get a few decent portraits taken.
Lizards were also a comforting sight. The habitat looked like it should have lizards in it, and sure enough, there they were. I had to look up the species online (I think I got it right)?
As always, it was great to be on vacation but nice to be home again. I enjoyed walking through the familiar black-eyed susans and big bluestem of the Platte River Prairies yesterday.
I’ve been on a family vacation to the Corpus Christi, Texas area this week. It’s been a great week, with pleasant weather and lots of beach exploration. I’ll have more photos to share next week, but today wanted to share a plant that I very much enjoyed photographing down here.
Railroad vine, or beach morning glory (Ipomoea pes-caprae) is a native vine that sprawls across many of the dunes along the beaches of the Gulf Coast of Texas. Although it is in the same plant family as the bindweed I’m fighting in my home garden, it wasn’t hard to appreciate its color and character.
We spent Thursday at San Jose Island, just north of Port Aransas, Texas. Railroad vine was common on the beach dunes there as well. Also abundant on those dunes were grasshoppers of many colorful species. The two interacted in at least some cases, with the grasshoppers feeding on the flowers of the vine.
It turns out that photography (at least for me) along the beaches of the Texas Gulf Coast is much like it is in the prairies of Nebraska. I walk through the vegetation and appreciate the scenery, but mostly focus in on the small creatures (like grasshoppers) living there. More on that next week…