Let your heart be a portal for the songs of the universe.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Grassland Hunter

My morning trot with Cooper across the Llano Estacado prairie comes to an abrupt halt. Just ahead a Bullsnake winds effortlessly out of a Black-tailed Prairie Dog burrow. The grassland hunter continues its morning quest for prey across prairie straw. My heart still races from the aerobic workout of trail running. I take a few deep breaths to settle down, then cannot resist capturing images of this denizen of the Southern Great Plains biome. Normally a nearly daily event, this encounter is only my second this year. I surmise our deepening drought impacts snake prey opportunities and heretofore cold Spring conditions affect activity levels.
Our colubrid friend quickly assumes a telltale defensive posture--writhing coils, head elevated and cocked in an s-curve, spine-chilling warning hiss, and throaty rattle. The latter mimics a rattlesnake. This colubrid is particularly agitated. Although it's non-venomous I approach with caution.

While I jockey for a good photo angle, Cooper looks on from a respectful distance. Startlingly the snake launches its spring-loaded coils towards me. Several expletives cross my lips. I retreat several feet powered by a jolt of adrenaline. With renewed respect for its striking reach I manage several images and resume observations. My persistence causes the snake to make a hasty retreat into a prairie dog burrow.

- © Ilija Lukić 2013 -

Threat Alert

Warning Hiss

Writhing Serpent

Grassland Hunter (Bullsnake)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Terrapena Et Alia

Cooper and I slide into the arid Llano Estacado just after dawn. The waning gibbous moon hangs low over the Western horizon. It briefly captures my attention, when a Ferruginous Hawk effortlessly draws several circles into the deep blue sky surrounding the pallid nightlight. I pause and connect to the energy of the Llano tableland and its denizens. There is a hush over the prairie. The tranquility portends record breaking afternoon heat.

- © Ilija Lukić 2013 -

Eye Contact (terrapena ornata ornata, aka Ornate Box Turtle female)

Window To The Past

Shy Milk Weed (asclepias latifolia)

Battle-Scarred Samurai (pasimachus depressus, aka Blue-margined Ground Beetle)

The Beauty Of The Beast (Yellow Spine Thistle)

Woolly Plantain Spires (plantago patagonica)

Great Plains Native

Death Mask

Leaning To The Right (ratibida peduncularis, aka Naked Prairie Cone Flower)

Stamp Of Approval (Cooper)

Prairie Clown - (eleodes, aka Darkling Beetle)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Auguries Of Drought

The Llano Estacado tablelands of Eastern New Mexico languish in the grip of severe drought. An erie silence drapes the plain. Most notably, Western Meadowlarks have stopped their joyous melodies. The somber mood inspires this poem.

Prairie dog sentries bark silent refrains
To dogged vultures on dry playa shore.
Arid red soil yearns for life giving rains.
Meadowlark solos rise skyward no more.

Horned toads forgo stiff upper lip and pout.
Burrowing owl eyes haunt their memories.
As salamander smiles succumb to drought,
Box turtle hearts abide somber auguries.

Coyotes pursue scant prey on sand dunes.
Hawks on the wing seldom grace blue skies.
Thirsty prairie winds give rise to desert tunes
While scattered wildflowers portend paradise.

- © Ilija Lukić 2013 -