Thursday, May 1, 2014

Creature from the suburban lagoon, Part 2

Following up on my original post where I didn't yet have the varmint identified, it turns out to be a nutria, more accurately referred to as a coypu.
The white hairs around the schnoz are a dead giveaway.  He lives in the drain pipe under Cypress Pointe at West Walker Street.

Given that I found him, I feel entitled to name him.  I think I'll call him Constantinople.  Constantinople the coypu.  
So we can relax that there will be none of our trees cut down as there would be with a beaver, although there might be some burrowing to contend with, because these guys love to dig all kinds of stuff up.

But surely you didn't think I'd conclude this post without subjecting you to a bunch of other photos of lagoon-related creatures.  Yesterday might very well have been the nicest day of the entire year - well worth a 2-mile ramble around our area.  Here's a short tour of some of the other critters I encountered on the way.
A couple of quackers.  I suspect from the edged blue wing markings and their shyness that they are American black ducks.  
Mourning doves, only because they are so photogenic.  
Firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella).  I bet you always wondered about the name of this distinctive wildflower.  
Scissor-tailed flycatcher, also known as the Texas bird of paradise.  The retention ponds were this particular individual's paradise of insects.  
Checkered white butterfly.  Looks beautiful in this photo but its caterpillars would eat my broccoli.  
Red-shouldered hawk at the top of one of the high towers.  Any time you see one of these near Centerpointe's retention ponds, look around for its mate.  
His mate was easy to spot, standing on the southwest fence of Oaks of Clear Creek subdivision, hoping to pounce on and devour someone's kitty or chihuahua.  Sorry for the blurryness of the photo.  
I would think it's a loggerhead shrike, but I don't know why its belly is as yellow as that of a brown shrike.  They are ruthless hunters, and one of their favorite local meals is the not-so-humble Carolina anole.  
Woodpecker, perhaps a red-bellied (their bellies really aren't that red).  The abundant trees in the dog park property and the adjacent cattle tract support a number of woodpeckers.  
Pulled along by my dog, I missed getting pics of an equal number of additional species.  It's really quite remarkable the diversity of wildlife surrounding just those retention ponds and extending down the Interurban easement.  I've always loved that about Houston - it's a riot of life everywhere you look, in defiance of developmental burdens.
A word of warning, however.  With recent increased publicity regarding the dog park property, more folks seem to be showing up to check it out (I've seen walkers and the other day there were two young people riding a dirt bike around it).  It's a beautiful property but it has not yet been tamed.  As such, it contains hazards including poison ivy (above).  Additionally, the Centerpointe retention ponds are perfect habitat for the water moccasin, which is one of the nastiest poisonous snakes on the planet.  Enjoy our area, but keep your eyes open.  
Today is shaping up to be as beautiful as yesterday was.  You'll want to get out and take a few long walks, because the heat of summer and the mosquitoes will be upon us soon enough.  Who knows - you might even spot a shy coypu in the process.  

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