Dateline – Spring, Summer, Fall 2019 – Denton County

Densely wooded Trinity River Bottomlands

EDITOR’s NOTE: This is a followup to an earlier article… This Place in the Woods – Deep Winter and Early Spring. In this post I will be sharing more trail camera pictures taken in the same general location as those from the previous article. What has changed in the interim? The seasons! Lets’s take a look at how the turning of the calendar pages affects the daily lives of DFW forest fauna as we leave winter behind, and enter spring, summer, then fall…

You drive by these bottomlands everyday on your way into work—what I mean by that is that there are places just like this one all across the metroplex. Riparian woods hug the Trinity River and its tributaries. They nestle up against our reservoirs. They grow up thick on nearly every forgotten and neglected plot of bottomland in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Together they form a network of rich nature areas spreading throughout the metroplex.

You may notice these mini-wildernesses while driving through Dallas/Fort Worth on your daily business—there are more of these types of nature areas than you might first expect. The pictures I am going to share with you here could have been taken in any one of them. Behind the veil of leafy-green you will find the daily drama of a menagerie of wildlife going about its business—the unforgiving business of survival.

The long, straight, moss-covered deadfall is an old utility pole.
I have no idea how it made its way to this place deep in the woods

Spring

I used several different trail camera sets for this project. Each was placed with framing and composition in mind. The most important consideration, though, was ensuring that our native urban wildlife appeared in front of the camera as often as possible. Spring showers turned much of this forest into a temporary bog, as shallow pools of water collected all along the bottomlands, creating numerous unique environs. The water would stand well into summer, before finally succumbing to the intense heat. Here’s how the wildlife responded in the meanwhile…

A pregnant doe early in the season
Raccoons are busy in this part of the forest
They find plenty to eat hunting the shallow pools of water
Little Blue Herons also find their way into these
isolated vernal ponds from time to time
Notice the early antler development on this young buck
I am always amazed at the Raccoon’s ability to hunt in near total darkness
White-tailed Deer also remained active all night long
A young Coyote patrolling a clearing in the woods
As the weather warmed aquatic vegetation growth accelerated
A Great Egret deep in the murk of the Trinity River Bottoms
The deer did not hesitate to get their feet wet
A White-tailed Deer wading into the water to access the succulent Pickerel Weed

Summer

As spring became summer, many of these spots became verdant oases of deep, rich greens, and dappled lighting effects. Some of the resulting photos were stunning.

One hope I had was that as the offspring born earlier in the spring, would begin to accompany their mothers as they grew and became stronger. There was some of that, but not nearly as much as I had expected—an outcome that was informative in and of itself…

A pair of does making their way deep in the forest
Feeding on the lush vegetation growing in the sun dappled clearing
As the summer wore on, vegetation began to grow up in from of some of my cameras
An inquisitive Coyote triggered the camera even as its view was nearly
obstructed by new growth vegetation
I left one camera on this huge deadfall.
The trunk of this massive tree was nearly 5 feet in diameter
Not surprisingly, a Raccoon was soon to appear on the downed tree
More surprisingly, an Armadillo as manged his way up onto the trunk
A Raccoon foraging in the shallow water
This is the picture I had hoped for all summer… a month old fawn!
Following his mother through the forest
Momma Raccoon and her youngsters also began
exploring the woods together around this time
Raccoons are supremely adaptable and can make a living in the woods or in the city
The baby Raccoons will follow their momma anywhere
There are three Coyotes in this image… can you find them all?
As the pools of water finally evaporate, a wily Coyotes attempts to stay out of the mud…
When the log runs out, the Coyote has no other choice

Fall

In North Texas it take many long weeks for the dog days of summer to give way to the cooler weather of fall. When the changeover finally happens, it is a great relief to all DFW residents—human and wildlife alike. White-tailed Deer activity, in particular, picks up as the bucks prepare for the coming rut…

A buck passing through
The area was frequented by many does as well
Something in the clearing beyond has attracted this deer’s attention
A Raccoon patrolling at night
A rare Bobcat image.
A foraging Armadillo rooting through the newly fallen leaves
A lone Coyote
A gorgeous buck with shreds of velvet still hanging from his antlers
What has this buck’s full attention? Notice the second buck in the clearing
The buck in the distance decides discretion is the better part of valor
A pair of White-winged Doves spend a moment on the forest floor…
…as the leaves drop and autumn sets in!

The Walk in and the Walk Out

As always, the walk to and from my trail camera sets often include interesting wildlife encounters as well. I always carry my point and shoot camera with me just in case…

The official bird of summer in Texas… the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
White-lined Sphinx Moth caterpillar
Snowy Egret
The carcass of a large female Spiny Softshell Turtle…
around 14 inches in diameter
Common Buckeye Butterfly
Viceroy Butterfly
Hover fly
Great Blue Heron
Hackberry Emperor Butterfly
Red-eared Slider roaming across the countryside
A closer look at the Red-eared Slider
A congregation of large female Spiny Softshell Turtles
Turtles basking in the warm autumn sun
I followed this Painted Bunting along the treeline for a 1/4 mile before getting this shot.
He always stay just one step ahead of me. Someday I will get a stellar picture
of one of these beautiful birds… but not on this day.
Vultures roosting on a transmission tower
Turkey Vultures
On the way out I came across this lone Black Vulture sitting on the ground.
Curiously, he was stationed just a few feet away from
the turtle carcass I had found on the way in
Thistle bloom
In full bloom
A closer look at the thistle bloom
Which way is up?