Winter Shorebirds and Stray Cats

Winter Shorebirds and Stray Cats

A few weeks back I shared with you a lot of pelicans, but there are many other birds along our Gulf coast during the winter. In between cold snaps I have made several trips to Texas City Dike and have a few smaller birds to share with you. And now that I have noticed the wild kittehs at the shore, I am seeing more of them. It is like when you first learn the word ubiquitous, then... the word is everywhere.

Most of these photos were taken with the borrowed Sony A700 and 75-300mm lens. The telephoto lens is fairly lightweight but it is still heavier and a big change from the FZ200 Bridge Camera. I can report I am feeling much more comfortable shooting manually.

Ruddy Turnstone Sony A700 with 75-300mm 1/1250 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1000

Ruddy Turnstone

Sony A700 with 75-300mm 1/1250 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1000

Ruddy Turnstones are fairly common along our coast in the winter. They get their name from their foraging behavior; they poke around and turn over stones and rocks looking for crustaceans and other good things to eat. They also investigate seaweed and dig in the wet sand. Later in the Spring, before they migrate back to the Arctic Tundra (aka Canada), they get some fine breeding plumage. I promise to show you those later.

Royal Terns, non-breeding plumage Panasonic Lumix FZ200  1/640 f/4.0 ISO 100

Royal Terns, non-breeding plumage

Panasonic Lumix FZ200  1/640 f/4.0 ISO 100

The birds above are Royal Terns. The one on the right is begging to be fed, even though he is certainly old enough to fend for himself. He was making a terrible racket, and none of the other terns were paying any attention to him. It was rather odd to see one young bird exhibiting such behavior at this time of the year. These birds are in the non-breeding state; later they get a solid black cap and are very impressive.

Sony A700 with 75-300mm 1/800 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1000

Sony A700 with 75-300mm 1/800 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1000

Remember I have shown you some cats on the Texas City Dike? Now I am really looking for them. This was a young kitten and very wary. When I see them, generally I just try to frame the shot with the settings I have because it maybe the only capture I get. Here, I only got this one shot from the truck (on my knees in the passenger seat, aiming out the driver's window) and then he scurried back in the grass. And hid, because I got out and looked for him. Maybe I should take treats....

Piping Plover Sony A700 with 75-300mm 1/1250 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1000

Piping Plover

Sony A700 with 75-300mm 1/1250 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1000

This one was a bit unusual, and I only saw the one. I am almost certain this is a Piping Plover in winter plumage. I got 8 shots of this little guy from 3:21:14 to 3:21:59 and then he was gone. He wasn't too far away, maybe 10-12 feet, but they move so quickly looking for whatever the waves bring in. Five of those shots, he was facing away from me. You keep taking shots, hoping they will stop, turn around, do something interesting. Thank goodness digital photos are free, relatively speaking.

  Sanderling Sony A700 with 75-300mm 1/1250 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1000

 

Sanderling

Sony A700 with 75-300mm 1/1250 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1000

Sanderlings are fun to watch, they scurry about and hunt for invertebrates left in the soft sand when the waves recede. If you sit really still, they seem to forget you are there and you can get some close shots like the one above. This one was walking toward me. He was a bit aggressive towards other Sanderlings, but ignored the Rudy Turnstones in his area. I suppose they are looking for different prey.

Sanderling with jellyfish Sony A700 with 75-300mm 1/1250 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1000

Sanderling with jellyfish

Sony A700 with 75-300mm 1/1250 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1000

This is the same Sanderling investigating a jellyfish washed ashore. Birds are opportunistic; never can tell when something might be tasty.

Black cat Sony A700 with 75-300mm 1/800 sec. f/6.3 ISO 1000

Black cat

Sony A700 with 75-300mm 1/800 sec. f/6.3 ISO 1000

This is a repeat cat; I am pretty sure this is the one I saw hunkered down in the tall grass a few months ago. He stayed on the rocks as long as I stayed in the car.

Looking around the internet for info on wild kittehs I found this distinction. Feral cats are born in the wild as opposed to stray, lost or abandoned homeless cats. I have no idea if these cats belong to anyone or not. There are those bait shops at the beginning of the Texas City Dike where these cats might live. The closest houses are a few miles away, but who knows how far a cat would travel? I haven't seen these cats in a group, only solitary cats fairly close to the beginning of the Dike.

Black and white kitteh Sony A700 with 75-300mm 1/500 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1000

Black and white kitteh

Sony A700 with 75-300mm 1/500 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1000

This guy is getting to be a regular. He didn't run from me, in fact might be getting used to posing. He walked all along the rocks and was totally aware I was looking at him.

All these wild cats look pretty healthy; their eyes are clear and they don't look too banged up. I know they can eat leavings from the fishermen, and a lot of folks cook and picnic on the beach. But, surely they have fleas and a short life ahead of them?

Have you been staying warm during these cold snaps? Are you feeding the backyard birds? And is your cat happy to live in a house and get regular meals? Do you think he could survive out in the big world? I am pretty sure Maggie would immediately look for a new human.

Let me know in the comments. Sign in as a Guest and use any name you choose.

Cranes, Cows and Maybe a Coyote

Cranes, Cows and Maybe a Coyote

Battleship of Texas

Battleship of Texas