RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Vanishing wetlands prevail throughout South Texas wildlands, as relentless drought continues draining precious water sources for wildlife.
As dawn begins to paint chaparral surrounding this shrinking pond, wading birds arrive to stalk shallows for any remaining sustenance.
Morning light reveals a pair of Snowy egrets stoically bookending a solitary Black-necked stilt.
While nearby, a trio of stilts on impossibly long pink legs tiptoe around a snowy in search of prey.
Dwindling depth attracts a plethora of wading birds eager to snatch stranded morsels, and soon an ibis joins the egret probing for breakfast.
A Mottled duck dabbles enthusiastically, waddling as often as paddling in the muck as diminutive shorebirds scurry by.
The water is becoming so shallow that leggy-endowed stilts barely even get their ankles wet as they delicately step about.
As the morning sun begins to bake the parched pond, a nervous coyote slinks in for a quick sip before vanishing back into a cloaking brush.
Towering above all others, the imposing Great Blue heron surveys his aquatic domain with regal prowess, a formidable bill poised to snatch any available prey.
Meanwhile, a Reddish egret claiming a slightly deeper pool swoops in for a briefly comical canopy dance before resuming a more refined stalk snaring minnows.
Late morning attracts a lone nilgai bending to drink at the pond’s edge, her tawny coat gleaming in the bright sun.
Later, a young bull with horns just beginning to protrude laps the water as a stilt strolls past.
The parade of creatures is extraordinary; as water is the source of life for all wildlife, and while shrinking oasis are temporary boons for wading birds, rainfall is desperately needed for the cycle of life to continue.