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      Nature Report: Bathing Birds

      It's a tranquil morning at this remote ranch country pond north of Raymondville. The weathered windmill stands motionless, and the only sound is the buzz of insects.

      A pied bill grebe floats on the calm water and then tips its beak down for a sip.

      On the shore, a bright red cardinal displays a perfect mirror reflection in the placid pond.

      It's time for the morning bath, and the cardinal enthusiastically wets its feathers in the cooling water.

      Nearby, a nervous titmouse studies the pond for any hint of danger before taking the plunge.

      But, once the bright-eyed little bird wades in, he seems to thoroughly enjoy the soaking.

      Soon the old windmill begins to slowly turn bringing water up from beneath the ground to feed the pond.

      A red-eared slider climbs out to bask in the sun, and the pied-billed grebe turns circles out in the middle of the pond while grooming.

      Soon other turtles begin to emerge, but it can be a little tricky trying to gain a foothold on the slippery log and this rascal topples off.

      Throughout the morning the birds come and go, dipping their beaks into the water. Sometimes they simply savor a satisfying drink, while others delight in a through dousing.

      Meanwhile, back at the log the grebe decides to evict the remaining turtle appropriating the perch for himself.

      And while the grebe engages in a thorough grooming, the turtle circles hoping to regain its spot.