Reflections of a November Day at the Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge



It’s a temperate day of around 60 degrees. Not a cloud is in the sky and a gentle breeze is blowing.

As I’m driving along I spot a few prairie dogs eating. I have no idea what they can be consuming in the barren landscape they’ve created. Three cottontails appear running off into the distance as I stop to photograph them. At the lake, I instantly hear and see about 200 sandhill cranes off at the far end of the lake. Their calls of trumpeting “garoo-a-a-a” reverberate through the rolling landscape.

The yipping of about five coyotes started serenading me. Their continuous yipping carries on the wind as nature’s song. Continuing on my hike I come across a dead pocket gopher. It appears to have just laid down and drawn its last breath because no trauma marks were evident on him. If only most wildlife was that blessed to die so peacefully.

Then the most unexpected site of all occurs directly overhead. It’s familiar because I’ve seen it before on the Texas Gulf Coast. What appears is the graceful beauty of 11 white pelicans flying without a sound in an almost straight line over the refuge. The image is not perfect. because the sight of the pelicans was so unexpected that I almost forget to grab my camera, so its a tad off, but it still documents their presence on the refuge.

By far the best remembrances of the day were the serenading coyotes and pelicans. I love the yipping of coyotes. Who doesn’t love the unexpected surprise of a few pelicans?


Photographs – © Christena Stephens