Friday, October 24, 2008

I'm a Stalker

So much has happened since I last posted. I've even gardened (imagine that!) but first here are some photos from our recent camping trip to Caprock Canyons, with a side trip to hike in Palo Duro Canyon. I still plan to post photos of the canyons and their lovely vistas.

But what struck me as I viewed the photos was how much stalking I did. Insects, spiders, birds, bison. I was an equal opportunity stalker. If they moved, I was there right behind, beside, and in front of them.

Just outside the entrance to Caprock Canyons State Park is the official Texas State Bison Herd. Interesting enough, although we couldn't get that close to them. I took this photo with a 200mm zoom lens.
Outside the fence, just next to the road, I found a more interesting, more Wild West kind of scene. Two caterpillars approached each other; both wanted the same plant. I couldn't wait for the showdown. This guy had already staked his claim to the plant.
This guy was approaching rapidly. They seemed on a collision course for a cat(erpillar)fight.
And then this guy realized there were more than enough leaves for him, and the showdown at Caprock Canyons fizzled into nothing.The people who pulled up behind our car were left wondering why I was focused on a small plant and not the bison herd, but heck, I'm getting used to people wondering what I'm doing.

Back at our campsite, our dog performed admirably as sentry and often alerted me to the presence of insects.

Such as this beetle.

Or this grasshoppper.
Or this dragonfly. (Don't these all look like they could be on the surface of Mars?)

Sometimes the dog needed to be a little more directed in pointing out potential interlopers. Here she is showing me a walking stick bug,
which I followed until it had safely run away from both of us toward safety.
After a couple of days, I (or maybe it was the insects) got bolder. Near Lake Theo, I found this grasshopper sunning himself. I had seen many grasshoppers by this time in our trip, but I didn't yet have a photo of the grasshopper, well, hopping.
So I held the camera in one hand, with my finger on the shutter release, while I threw rocks at the flower. I didn't ever hit it, no worries there. I just wanted it to hop. It never did. Plenty of its cousins hopped on me later but never when I had the camera ready.

I had more hope for the bold jumping spider that showed up on my chair. Fearful that he would get away before I could take a good picture, I trapped the spider in one of my collection jars. What? You don't travel with collection jars?
I released him and then followed him as he moved quite quickly without jumping.
I probably took about 50 pictures of this spider hoping to catch him jumping boldly. In the end I had to settle for this shot of his metallic green fangs.
My last stalking story, because I will not for now share my efforts to get a picture of copulating insects for Annie--please ask her, not me!, is about this guy, who isn't an insect.

When we were checking out the amphitheater at the park, I saw a flash out of the corner of my eye. I told my husband to grab the dog and head in the opposite direction.
For about 20 minutes, I snuck around very sharp cactus, trying to get a photo of this roadrunner. I almost slipped down into the canyon itself. I decided then that I had tried hard enough to get a good picture. I figured the roadrunner cartoons weren't wrong--they are fast birds.
As it turns out, the bird knew its best angle and was simply waiting for me to stop chasing him. He posed and posed and posed.
He didn't even flinch near the dog, who strangely had no interest in this bird. Maybe I am converting her into an entomologist?


  1. Great photos! Your alert dog looks almost just like ours (curly tail and all). Your photos motivate me to keep my camera even more handy when I'm out and about.

  2. Palo Duro is on our list of places to visit with our trailer. We drive close to there every summer and have often talked about taking the side trip in. Your post has put it on the top of the list.

  3. Great shots of the bugs and bird! They are infinitely more fun then bison! Caprock Canyon and Palo Duro look wonderful. Isn't nature fantastic! Gail

  4. Nice shots, Vert. When we were in Palo Duro, we saw lots of wild turkeys.

  5. Posing roadrunners! Dueling caterpillars! Good thing the bison were behind a fence - in an old movie the nerdly naturalist would have turned around from his studies to see the bison behind him ;-]

    Thanks for the link and for trying to catch our faves in the act. I love how your dog helps you stalk!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    (the word verification is "antic" - an actual word)

  6. Your patience and enthusiasm really paid off in some great photos.