October 16, 2014 – Lewisville, Texas

I made a special early morning trip out to the Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area (LLELA) last week, and had a wonderful time. I arrived at predawn with the intent of only doing a little exploring and maybe taking a few pictures along the way. I had a few hours before I needed to be at work, and I thought I would spend the time just going wherever the events of the day took me.

The morning was cool, the air was crisp, and the skies were clear. A soft glow was beginning to develop on the horizon far to the east. I spotted a fine looking White-tail Deer buck just after I passed through the gate, but it was still much too dark for pictures. I had to be satisfied watching the handsome animal running flat out along side the road and then soaring over a barbed-wire fence with one mighty leap before disappearing into the woods.

After the deer, I did not see much wildlife for the rest of the morning. Osprey were the one exception. These magnificent birds were out in force and were busy hunting the river and nearby Bittern Marsh. Unfortunately, I was always too slow on the draw when it came to photographing the elegant raptors. Again and again one would disappear behind a tree or other obstruction just before I could bring my camera to bear. Often they would be carrying a fish in their talons. The pictures—if I had gotten them—would have been awesome!

So, wildlife would not be the focus of this outing, and that was ok because there was plenty more to see. The warm lake water pouring out of the spillway and rolling down the Elm Fork of the Trinity River partnered with moist soil from recent rains and the cool air of a crisp clear fall night to create copious amounts of dreamlike fog. The soft ethereal blanket draped itself over the trees and settled into every nook and cranny of the forest. The landscape was—for a time—enveloped in an otherworldly appearance.

Later in the morning, the fog would burn off and a beautiful day shaped up. The still air created mirror-like surfaces on the water features at LLELA which reflected the blue sky to near perfection. Confusion could set in if you stared too long. Which way is up? Which way is down?

I crossed paths with a bus load of excited seventh graders on the trail as I was leaving. They were there for their annual LISD field trip. Armed with cameras and iPads each student had a special naturalist assignment to pursue. The excitement was palpable—I wish I could have stayed longer.

Fog rising off of the Elm Fork of the Trinity River at dawn.
Fog rising off of the Elm Fork of the Trinity River at dawn.
River fog atmospherics.
River fog atmospherics.
Dawn breaking over the Elm Fork.
Dawn breaking over the Elm Fork.
The river breathes.
The river breathes.
An Osprey Enveloped.
An Osprey Enveloped.
The light of dawn reaches the treetops.
The light of dawn reaches the treetops.
A forest of fog.
A forest of fog.
Osprey with fish.
Osprey with fish.
The forest through the fog.
The forest through the fog.
A world away.
A world away.
A Pied-billed Grebe on a fall palette.
A Pied-billed Grebe on a fall palette.
Soft light reaches the water surface.
Soft light reaches the water surface.
The High Blind on the Bittern Marsh.
The High Blind on the Bittern Marsh.
A grebe in the marsh.
A grebe in the marsh.
The colors of early fall.
The colors of early fall.
The marsh as a mirror.
The marsh as a mirror.
Autumn lily pads.
Autumn lily pads.
Up or down?
Up or down?
The start of a beautiful day.
The start of a beautiful day.
Lily pads on the Bittern Marsh.
Lily pads on the Bittern Marsh.
Facing the sun.
Facing the sun.
Lily pads as far as the eye can see.
Lily pads as far as the eye can see.
Early morning in the woods of LLELA.
Early morning in the woods of LLELA.
The Bittern Marsh.
The Bittern Marsh.
A Barn Spider with prey.
A Barn Spider with prey.
Covered in dew and suspended in midair.
Covered in dew and suspended in midair.
This mushroom/fungus was the size of a coffee can.
This mushroom/fungus was the size of a coffee can.
The morning moon.
The morning moon.
Turkey Vulture.
Turkey Vulture.