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      Exclusive look at a secluded South Texas oasis

      South Texas Oasis pond

      Spending a relaxing afternoon at a ranch country pond is always a rewarding experience.

      This late fall afternoon is unseasonably warm, and an abundance of creatures frequent the tranquil waters. Standing sentinel on a weathered mesquite log in the middle of the pond, a great egret peers intently at the water.

      Tall and slender with an extremely long neck, the immaculate white egret patiently waits to snare a fish or frog with its rapier bill. But, no prey appears, and the egret stretches to its fully erect posture as a pair of grebes glide by.

      What a study in contrast, the diminutive grebe and the elegant egret sharing the same watery domain. However, the egret doesn't like the idea of any turtles underfoot and sidesteps away from the hard shelled intruder.

      Soon the initial red eared slider is joined by several others, and they take over the entire log as they bask in the late afternoon sun. Stalking the pond's edge, a snowy egret hunts for minnows.

      Nearby, another snowy with its distinctive yellow feet waits in ambush for unwary prey. Regular visitors to the pond are wild hogs, and there is nothing they like better than to wallow in the cool muck.

      Although they may look totally relaxed, they are always alert to the slightest whiff of danger and will vanish in a flash if threatened. In this instance, it may have been a herd of javalina that spooked the hogs.

      While the native collared peccaries may be smaller than wild pigs, they can be a dangerous foe. But all is calm this day, and there are no pond side confrontations.

      Even the tiny grebe has opted for a South Texas siesta as it floats leisurely on the tranquil waters.