Lightning Welk – The State Shell of Texas
In 1987 “The Ledge”, to borrow a term from the late columnist and author Molly Ivins when referring to the Texas Legislature, designated the Lightning Welk as the official state shell of Texas.
The large and distinctive Lightning Welk is found only in the Gulf of Mexico and the Southeast Atlantic coast of the USA. These shells have inhabited our waters for 60 million years and have been significant to cultures in our history. Native Americans used welks as food, housewares, weapons, jewelry, and religious ceremonies. They have also been found in burial grounds. Left-handed shells are considered sacred in some parts of Asia and India. Because the Lightning Welk has become quite popular with collectors, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has enacted protective regulations to prevent over harvesting thus limiting a reduction in the Lightning Welk population.
The Lightning Welk is distinguishable by the counter-clockwise coiling of its whorls and the aperture or opening on the left. They are often called “left-handed”. A Lightening Welk will grow to a maximum size of 8 inches in 10 t0 20 years; however, some have reached 16 inches.
The Lightning Welk photographs in this blog were taken at the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Passeriformes is the largest order of birds and includes more than half of the world’s different bird species with more than 5,000 unique species classified as passerines. Often times passerines are called songbirds, but not all of these birds are equally vocally adept.
Some of the most common characteristics shared by these birds include being small to medium in size with an upright posture, relatively vocal with different calls though not always singing elaborate songs, and relatively bright plumage colors or distinct markings. The most prominent characteristic shared by all passerine birds is the arrangement of their toes. Each has four toes, three facing forward and one backward which allows the bird to easily cling to horizontal and nearly vertical perches.
Jays are several species of medium-sized, usually colorful and noisy passerine birds in the crow family. This blog shows photographs of four different species of Jay’s I photographed in Plano, TX, Lost Maples State Park, TX, Rio Grande Valley World Birding Center, TX Lincoln National Forest, NM and Ruidoso, NM.
Western Scrub Jay
Grand Canyons of the USA
Did you know there are two grand canyons in the USA – The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone in Wyoming and The Grand Canyon in Arizona.
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is located in Yellowstone National Park. This National Park was established March 1, 1872. The Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon is the first large canyon on the Yellowstone River downstream from Yellowstone Falls. The canyon is 24 miles long, 800-1,200 feet deep, and .25 to .75 miles’ wide. I captured these photographs from Artist Point.
The Grand Canyon is a steeped sided canyon carved by the Colorado River in Arizona. The Grand Canyon is located within the Grand Canyon National Park, the Kaibab National Forest, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, The Hualapai Tribal Nation, the Havasupai people and the Navajo Nation. Established February 26, 1919, the Grand Canyon is the fifteenth oldest National park. It is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and reaches a depth of over a mile. My photographs were taken at various locations along the south rim on a very hazy day.
Click on Photo to enlarge
Cattle Drive Thru Downtown Dallas
These bronze bovine sculptures commemorate nineteenth century cattle drives of the old west, in particular the Shawnee Trail. This trail was the eastern most route by which Texas longhorn cattle were taken to northern railheads. The trail passed through Austin, Waco, and Dallas until joining the Chisolm Trail in 1867.
Robert Summers of Glen Rose, Texas created the 49 steers and 3 trail riders. Each steer is six feet high. The entire sculpture is the largest bronze monument of its kind in the world.
While photographing this unique sculpture, I could almost feel as though I was right there in the middle of the past, the smells, the dangers, and the excitement.
The Whoopers Are Back
After a 2,500 mile plus trip from Canada’s Northwest Territories and Alberta, mainly Wood Buffalo National Park, the Whooping Cranes, the tallest North American bird, have returned to their Texas winter home, Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, north of Rockport, Texas.
I had the opportunity to photograph these Whooping Cranes while driving around on the Lamar Peninsula near Goose Island State Park which is across Saint Charles Bay from the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge located on Matagorda Island.
The photographs are of adult Whoopers and one juvenile. The adults are white with black wing tips and legs; the juvenile is reddish brown and white also with black wing tips and legs.
Call upon your imagination and pretend you are watching these graceful birds gently glide above and softly touch down.
Click on the photograph to enlarge.