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      Nature Report: Unexpected Encounter

      Just in case you missed the first sunrise of the year, this was what it looked like at dawn on January 1st 2013.

      The sun peeked out only briefly thru the drizzly clouds, but at least el sol made an appearance on New Years day.

      Despite the damp weather and overcast skies throughout much of the first couple of weeks of the year, whitetail bucks have been busy prowling the ranch country and courting does.

      The winter rut is winding down throughout the brush land, but the annual breeding season that runs from late December thru early January is an exciting time to be out in the wildlands of Deep South Texas.

      While whitetail deer are the main attraction this time of year, you never know what you may encounter in the brush country.

      When I first noticed this kestrel it was perched on a fence post, but then it flew to the ground nearby. The little falcon had apparently just killed a mourning dove and began trying to drag it off into cover.

      The ambitious raptor had taken on prey too big to fly off with, and so for the next fifteen minutes it thoroughly plucked and then devoured the dove.

      By the time the meal was finished and it managed to fly up to a mesquite, its crop was thoroughly distended giving the kestrel a decidedly plump look.

      The sudden appearance of an impressive buck returns my attention to whitetail deer, but after admiring him for only a few moments he suddenly takes off in pursuit of his love interest.

      Things can sure happen fast in the wildlands, and surprises are always just around the corner or perched on the next fence post.