Mid-afternoon sunshine emerges from heavily overcast skies and I cannot resist its invitation to immerse in the draws and wilds of the Llano Estacado. Cooper and I head out into the chilly 50°F plains environment. Just several days ago we suffered a 90°F temperature extreme. There is no such thing as an ordinary Llano weather day.
The rewards for our intrepid venture are numerous. We surprise a Northern Harrier on its kill. The raptor takes to the air, but returns as we move off. A dozen Barn Swallows perform aerobatic maneuvers overhead. Their chatty communications fill the air. Western Meadow Larks perched on dry yucca stalk skeletons emit rapid fire warning cries. Gone are their melodic vocalizations of early Spring. Their well-camouflaged nests and broods need protection.
A large hare bolts from its hideout and takes off down a ranch road, ears raised. Cooper reacts with a brief chase.
In a draw, sheltered from the raw breath of the Llano Trail Sweeper’s Northern cousin, I come across a singular Chocolate Daisy plant. My find turns more interesting, when a Hover Fly patiently obliges my photographic endeavors with its hummingbird-like approach to the enticing yellow blossoms. Its target, the nectar. These syrphid flies are often mistaken for wasps due to their striped coloration.