Despite often gloomy and dismal weather and optical conditions, the marshy south flank of Pilant Lake near the observation tower at Brazos Bend State Park, Texas has been an exciting place for birders this winter. In addition to the usual suspects present during winter, American Pipits, Wilson’s Snipes, American Bitterns, Song Sparrows, Least Sandpipers, and a Solitary Sandpiper have been spotted in the vicinity. What’s more, interesting bird behavior and interactions have been common lately, and I’ve made inter- and intra-species conflicts and confrontations the theme of my photos for this post. There are, for example, so many Wilson’s Snipes around that they’re getting into each other’s business: violations of personal space result in displays as shown below.
The south side of Pilant Lake is also one of the best spots to photograph wader hunting behavior that I know. This winter has been no exception. Two weeks ago a Great Blue Heron is reported to have taken a large siren (Siren intermedia), a very large salamander, from immediately north of the observation tower. As a result, I spent a few hours stalking a Great Blue in that area the day after the report, but I only saw the bird catch frogs. Maybe next time.
The passions are the same in every conflict, large or small.—Mason Cooley
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