I have been trying to get more walking in and there are a lot of good paths through protected Wetlands around here. Of course in the desert, any area with water attracts concentrations of wildlife so the photo opportunities abound.
The birdsong is almost deafening this time of year in the mornings as mating and defending territories is in full swing right now. I was able to finally get some good photos of a Marsh Wren which is what I think this little brown bird singing so loudly is. They are tiny birds that flit through the reeds never allowing me to get a photo until today. This little bird was intent on singing and stayed still in plain site long enough to be photographed.
I was also able to observe this common tern fishing over one of the ponds and see him catch a fish.
This time of year the foals are the show stealers for sure but the stallions always command my attention. The herd stallions have a presence that is captivating and for photographers trying to get close they must be watched carefully. You could put yourself in real danger if you did not pay close attention to what they are doing, their body language and their mood. Sometimes they graze quietly not at all alarmed as you come close, at other times they are in a definitely protective mode and then you had better watch out if they are showing you that they consider you a threat.
Each band of horses has a social structure that includes a stallion, a lead mare, a few mares with foals and half-grown offspring of varying ages that have not left the band yet or been driven off by the Stallion. These bands come fairly close to one another at times and that is when the fighting between the stallions breaks out. They seem to have a tolerance level of about 50 to a hundred yards. Within that zone one of the stallions will feel threatened and charges out to challenge. Sometimes nothing happens, the other stallion will round-up his band and move off, at other times a battle will ensue with roaring and squealing, biting and kicking. These types of photos are exciting to capture but the photographer has to be extremely careful to stay well out-of-the-way. I have been watching some of these stallions for years now and while they are familiar to me I don’t take it for granted that they are truly a wild animal.
Horses seem to me to be special in the animal world in that they know they are beautiful. If ordinary horses know that they are beautiful, then wild stallions know this tenfold. I have included some photos here of herd stallions and one young appaloosa stallion that I saw for the first time a couple of days ago hanging out with his bachelor friend. He is the first appaloosa I have seen in the wild bands. I hope to see him gather some mares in the next few years and pass on his genes. He certainly knows he is beautiful and he is.