An impromptu trip to Denton Creek led to a few surprises
Today I ran from a bobcat.
My wife warned me last week when I told her of my plans to visit Denton Creek that bobcats were approaching walking paths, an unusual behavior due to the high waters. I shrugged off the story but did not go regardless. Yesterday, I had plans to shoot Cormorants at Twin Cove Park. Passed the park entrance and it was closed because of flooding. That’s when I made a U-Turn for Denton Creek, my favorite spot for songbirds.
Photographing Texas Songbirds
Songbirds were the first unusual visitors perching so close to the highway. North Texas development has forced birds to take sanctuary deeper and deeper into the Texas oak forests. The latest flooding, however, pushed predators outwards and their prey even further. Nashville warblers made do by feeding on bugs crawling through the brush near the flooded waterline.
Lincoln Sparrows are completely transformed out in the wild coordinating with their own on dead tree stumps and, as if in agreement, launch themselves several yards away erupting in beautiful bird song moments later heralding a wondrous kill.
I hunkered down in the grass for around two hours shooting one tree visited by Orange-crowned warblers, male and female cardinals, a downy woodpecker, Lincoln and House sparrows.
Embarking into the forest
Muddy waters obscured one of two hiking trails leading into the tree guarded creek. A sound of a Cooper’s hawk greeted my entrance into the tree line forcing warblers scrabbling into the shadows making it impossible for me to get a good shot. If a Mockingbird is Texas’s state bird, a Cooper’s hawk is in the running for state predator. They invite a weatherworn battlefield perching in plain sight touting their wilderness superiority of scent camouflage and sharpened talons. I admire the bird’s beauty. I do not admire their knack for snatching my subject prior to capture.
The most prominent call in trees was the white-throated sparrow. I often watch these skittish creatures scavenging at ground level in brush. These birds were climbing through vines strangling oak trees almost as if they were mimicking foraging habits of warblers near by. I managed to take a photo though.
I entered an unusual silence coming up to clearing photographing deer in the same vicinity not too long ago. This spot is ideal for watching indigo buntings during the summer and unique flycatchers during intermittent rains. Today, I would follow white-throated sparrows darting in the brush nearby. Adjusting my lens I prepared for the shot. Eye in the viewfinder I began to focus when a bobcat cry, extremely close to my position, interrupted my focus.
I locked my lens and shifted direction back to my car. Thoughts consumed me.
I’m not a good tree climber. I don’t have a knife on hand. My camera gear with flash is quite heavy meaning a flight to safety would require dropping my beloved camera to live another day. “Stay on a walking path and you’ll be found”, I kept reminding myself. Best case scenario if attacked is what exactly? Do bobcats carry rabies? I thought they were scavengers. Wait, how do I call for help? Is there even an app for that? Keeping my mind occupied comforted me on my brisk trek to my car. I learned quite quickly the absolute fear of being attacked is a moment you can’t instagram, tweet, or post. I couldn’t help but smile.
Photography has thrusted me into the world of the living and that’s a great thing.