March and April 2019 – Dallas County

I often assert that quality naturalism and wildlife photography can be accomplished just about anywhere in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. It can also be done casually, without the need for elaborate planning. As a case in point I offer this collection of photographs taken during spur-of -the-moment and spontaneous visits to one of DFW’s many urban lakes.


Spring time in North Texas is a great time for these kinds of outings. In the metroplex there are, on average, only a handful of perfect days every year… The days I’m talking about are those with a shinning sun, clear blue skies, and big white clouds. The breezes are gentle, the temperature is cool, and the air is fresh and clean. When one of these days comes around–and overlap with a weekend–you have to take advantage of it. No excuses.

You hang a camera around your neck, load the dogs in the car, and head down to the lake for a long walk. If you plan your route in advance with consideration for time of day and lighting, a walk like this can be a great opportunity to do a little casual wildlife photography.

This past spring I managed to set aside worries and responsibilities long enough to enjoy a couple of these perfect Sunday afternoons. The pictures I took reveal that wildlife can easily be observed and photographed even in the most urban of areas. It’s surprising sometimes the quality of observations that can be during an impromptu excursion like this. There is a lot of wildlife to be seen in our big, modern cityscape.

Mallards. Three males and a female

On a couple of occasions, the confluence of perfect spring time conditions encouraged me to lose track of time and space. In these moments I became so absorbed in what I was doing that the rest of the world melted away and became lost to me. Zen-like moments of single-minded focus are rarefied for me these days. I treasure them. When I would snap out of it, hours and miles had passed by.

Please enjoy this little portfolio of springtime urban wildlife photos!

Basking turtles
A grand American White Pelican
A handsome male Wood Duck
Spring has arrived. Changes are coming
Male Ruddy Duck
Double-crested Cormorant
A pretty Savannah Sparrow
The clever Fox Squirrel
The dainty Mourning Dove
Neotropic Cormorant
Ring-billed Gull
Canada Goose
Red-winged Blackbird
Springtime in Dallas, Texas
A communal bask. Red-eared Sliders
An old male Red-eared Slider…
…sinks away into the depths
Great-tailed Grackle
Fox Squirrel

That one point along the way I witnessed a little springtime-induced tussle between two male Mallards. It was quite raucous. Check the video below to see for yourself…

Two male Mallards in a scuffle… See the video below for more of the action
Mallard fight video
A tiny, young Red-ear Slider basking on a small log
An American Coot, a Canada Goose, Lesser Scaup, Double-crested Cormorant, and many, many water turtles
Fox Squirrel
Black-crowned Night Heron
Female Red-winged Blackbird

This park has a well establish population of introduced Monk Parakeets. These pretty birds are always a pleasure to photograph. On one outing I noticed a parakeet feeding on the heart of a cattail reed. A new behavior in my experience… I’ve never seen them do that before!

A Monk Parakeet soaking up the springtime sun!
A handsome bird!
Saying hello from on high
Feeding on cattail reeds
A Great Egret
Sailboats on the water
A beautiful tangle of Cottonwood branches
American Coot
Red-winged Blackbird

Another time I noticed a large snake sunning behind a patch of tall grass near where I was standing. This was a non-venomous Diamondback Water Snake–very common in these parts. Once I knew to start looking, other snakes became easier to find–including some in the act of mating surreptitiously!

Diamondback Water Snake sunning in the tall grass
A little closer look!
This big fellow was approaching four feet in length.
He slithered off before I could get the shot!
A pair of Diamondback Water Snakes mating under heavy cover
Eastern Bluebird
A strange clump of floating aquatic vegetation
A closer look…
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Baltimore Oriole singing its heart out!
Red Admiral butterfly

The waters of this lake and all of its feeder creeks are absolutely full of aquatic turtles. Watch in the video below as a group of over eager male turtles pursue a reluctant female into the depths…

Turtle courtship
a colorful Red-winged Blackbird
Sometimes a dog has got to take a dip. Chasing ducks makes it all the more fun
A turtle stare down
A brand new Monk Parakeet nest. The colony is growing!
Hunting the reed beds
This unfortunate Pied-billed Grebe has gotten hung up on a plastic ring.
It will be difficult for him to extricate himself from this situation
To male Wood Ducks having a slight disagreement
A mother Wood Duck swimming with her brood
A handsome male Wood Duck
The dainty female Wood Duck
A female Red-winged Blackbird working on her nest
I never was able to get a positive id on this big bird…

4 Replies to “Life by the Lake”

  1. We are supposed to have Wood Ducks out in Rains County but I have never been able to find one.

  2. Have you considered red wolves? They were spotted a year ago on the Texas coast on their own island. Probably what saved them.

    1. Hi Carol,

      There are no Red Wolves in Texas. The news that came out a few years ago was misleading in the way it was reported. There is a dwindling population of wild Red Wolves in North Carolina, but there are only a handful of individuals left. Red Wolves are in real danger of becoming extinct in the wild again—likely sometime in the next year or two. See this article for more information…


  3. Terrific assortment of photos! I am planning a trip to White Rock Lake this week and am interested where to go to see the colony of Monk Parakeets. I just saw some at Marsh and Belt Line a couple of days ago… and, now I am obsessed! Can you suggest a certain area that is accessible by car to park and get photos of them? Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.