Quick Trip to Texas City and Other News
Some of my loyal readers know that I have been planning to retire this fall. Well, that day finally arrived and October 1, 2013 was my last day at work. After working over four decades, I am so excited about this new chapter in my life. And I get to share the adventures with you.
This week I made a spur of the moment (and isn't that the coolest thing?) trip to the Texas City Dike. The weather was tolerable; some clouds and some sun, but turned out to be a most productive trip.
The Oystercatcher on the left, XP is a juvenile; you can tell by the color of his bill and his eyes. He is also a bit browner than the adult, R5 on the right. They are pulling the guts out of a washed up fish. I know, it is gross, but they are BIRDS and that is what birds do. These two are often together, I wonder if they are parent and offspring, but it could be just a pairing of convenience.
The banding is provided by the American Oystercatcher Working Group for research and conservation. Each state has a different color; the one for Texas is orange (hmm... did someone at the project go to UT?). You can report where you see the birds and even submit photos. Yes, I did report XP and R5 but it would not let me upload my photos. I will follow up on that.
The last time I saw a Black-bellied Plover he was all fancy with a black chest and belly and getting ready to fly to the Arctic Tundra (or CANADA as I was informed) to breed. Well, he is back in his winter locale.... incognito as it were since I didn't recognize him. This might be a first-year adult as he is a bit creamier and lighter. But, he has black inner wings you can see when he flies. Which he did right after I took this photo.
This is an Osprey and it feeds exclusively on fish. They are raptors and are found around lakes, streams, ponds but it was a surprise to find one on the shore. Well, it surprised me. I saw this large black and white bird on the ground and was frantically trying to place it as a shorebird. This one hung around for just two minutes and then flew off.
Wow. I was so excited to get this. Isn't that a beautiful bird?
Our Brown Pelicans are still the only pelicans around; the White Pelicans will show up in a month or so. These guys don't have their breeding plumage now (remember the red along the upper pouch and the dark neck?) but the snowy white head and neck is still handsome. The juveniles are soft brown; there is one on the thumbnail for this post.
After looking along the rocks and the shore I went back to a grassy area. I found this amazing Long-billed Curlew. The first photos in the grass were not so pretty good; danged bird was standing in a trash pile. Way more than Photoshop could remove and I was afraid I wouldn't get any good photos.
But, he headed toward the water.
Now, isn't that a beautiful bird? It might be a young one; the adults have even longer bills. Long-billed Curlews winter along our coast and parts south; they breed in the central US. They poke around in the mud for food but this one didn't eat a thing while I was watching him. Maybe he got full of bugs and grasshoppers when he was back in the grassy area.
All the time I am looking at birds, there are big ships traversing Galveston Bay. The one on the left is going to sea after getting loaded up in the Port of Houston. The one on the right is a dredging ship going somewhere. I intend to do a whole adventure on ships as soon as I finish reading this book: Ninety Percent of Everything; The Invisible Industry That Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car and Food on Your Table.
It is going to be so exciting!
OK, back to birds. The Curlew has cinnamon colored under wings, but he didn't flap or fly or show off much.
I am still amazed at how cooperative this bird was. I must have 150 photos. Yes, they almost all look alike, but you have no idea when they will bolt and never be seen again.
But, he finally did fly away and I went down to Sundance Garden. It is a bit north of the dike, on Bay Street. There are a bunch of tall totem poles and a small flower garden. It is usually a good spot for butterflies and dragonflies.
I first photographed this dragonfly where he was back lit. That wasn't good at all so I went around so the light was behind me. Sometimes when you do that, they fly off never to be seen again. This one came back and.... I could not have asked for a better pose. Enough said.
Now, according to my totally unscientific and biased survey, some of you really like the edits and others not so much. Since this whole post was 'regular' photos, I will end this adventure with an edit for the ones that may feel slighted. I have no idea what kind of flower this is; if you know, put it in the comments.
And please do comment. I have been requested to show before and after on the edit/filters and I think that is a cool idea. Also, I was told that the birds I see at Brazos Bend hide from everyone else. Since I was not aware of that, I can try to be more specific of where I find them. Do you have any requests? If you would like me to go to Africa and do exotic birds, I can set up a PayPal account.
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