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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Bad start to a great day!

I decided to check out that new wetland at Presidio that I'd been hearing so much about, the Bishop Wetlands. All went fine until just before I rolled into Presidio. Two vehicles passed me and gradually were getting farther ahead of me. I was listening to something interesting on NPR, not concerned about my speed, since they were obviously moving faster than I was. A patrol car coming towards us went right past them and stopped me. Boy, that was annoying! He gave me a warning for going a few miles over the 70 MPH speed limit, but I know the cars ahead of me were going faster.

Anyway, I've always hated Presidio and that just refreshed my mind on that. So I went looking for the wetlands. Passed Fort Leaton so knew I was near. Not one single sign anywhere. About half way to Redford I drove back to Ft Leaton and inquired there. The nice man said it's just down the road a ways beside the golf course. Took off again wondering how I could have missed it. Again, no sign, nothing that had the word "golf" on it, and certainly nothing that remotely resembled a golf course. Back again. This time he said it actually says La Paloma RV Park, or something like that. So I went back where I'd passed that park more times than I'd care to remember. I could see the wetlands from there but no road to it, other than one that had a sign saying, "No trespassing." I took it anyway. After all, I'd talked to the manager on the phone a couple of months ago and he'd said it was always open.

When I arrived at the wetland it was fenced and clearly marked to keep out. Even an ominous sign saying, "Warning Electric Fence." Nowhere was there a name Bishop Wetlands. Later, the ranger at Ft Leaton  confirmed I had gone to the right place.

My next, and last, stop was Shafter Ghost Town where there's a lovely running stream, Cibolo Creek. I figured what with how the day had gone so far, I'd probably get run off from there. It was nearly noon and I hadn't touched my Canon yet.

Upon arrival, I timidly stayed in the road where the water runs across, knowing that was safe territory, in view of "no trespassing" signs all along the east side of the creek. There were awesome odes there and I was soon having a ball. After about thirty minutes a biologist showed up with traps and stated she was going to look for rare turtles there in hopes of stopping the pipeline. She declared that Texas waterways are open to the public. (She's from New Mexico's university at Alamogordo.)  And donning high boots she headed upstream. Hmm.. I was wearing my water shoes so I trailed behind her with new confidence. By then I had forgotten all about my stressful morning.

I had no idea what all the odes I was photographing were, but I was certainly where I wanted to be, doing what I wanted to do. Pixels were not spared. I ended up with well over 300 shots. Here's a male Amethyst Dancer. Photographed a female too.

I felt certain I was seeing lifers, but couldn't be sure until identities were confirmed. I saw quite a few Pale-faced Clubskimmers and followed their flights as best I could, hoping one would land. Finally, one did, but when I went around to get a lateral shot it disappeared. Here's all I got of it.

And I did end up with two lifers among the amazing variety and quantity of odes. First is a Gray Sanddragon, a species that is so common in West Texas that I was surprised I hadn't ever seen it before.

The other lifer is a Serpent Ringtail, an uncommon W TX species that I had aspired to see. 

I photographed so many species that I lost track, but here are the best photos I've ever taken of  American Rubyspots.

My advice is, do not set out to visit Bishop Wetlands. In fact, I can't see why anyone would want to visit Presidio either, but Shafter is awesome. Can't wait to go back. 

UPDATE: I researched the wetland project online and realize I didn't pay enough attention to what the articles had said. Here's what one article said about it.

"Part of the wetlands project will involve working with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to create a pull-off along the River Road – much like the Marfa Lights viewing area – where people could park their cars and observe the wetlands habitat."

So you see, they don't intend for a person to drive down to the wetland, just observe it from the highway. Bring your scope if you visit there. Still no viewing pull-off.


  1. I don't know for sure, but I think only navigable waterways are open, and then only the waterway itself and not the private property along the banks.
    Robert Mace

  2. You're probably right. We stayed in the water. There were no other people around or vehicles.