Short Stories for April
April 29, 2016 ~ Besides enduring the Tax Day Flood I have been to Galveston five times this month, to Texas City twice and the Brazoria Loop area three times. And I spent a couple of afternoons poking around old Rosenberg. Some trips were especially good and some were pretty awful. You can't control the weather; the weatherman says clouds and it is sunny when you get there or the wind is from the wrong direction and all the birds are facing away from you. Or they predict historic floods and it sprinkles. Or "thunderstorms in the area" and 240 billion gallons of water falls from the sky.
Texas City Dike is almost always good for birds. I am working on a post for you about all the mating terns we have seen, but here is a nice Snowy Egret working the waves near the breakers. I know, Bill posted one on FB the other day almost identical. What do you expect? We are sitting side by side and using big lenses.
Male Snowys were just showing up at Smith Oaks Rookery when we were there earlier this month; this guy has a hint of red around his bill. Full breeding plumage includes orange-red lores and feet. I want to go back to the rookery in a few weeks to check on the spoonbill babies. The Roseate Spoonbills were just starting to breed in mid-April and it takes about a month for the eggs to hatch.
And here is a Willet. He looks quite elegant poking at a shell to see if a hermit crab is at home. Willets seem to be the default shorebird. Funny how they can masquerade as an exciting find ... look! look, it is a Whimbrel! No, a Godwit! oh, noes ... it is just a Willet! I did a whole adventure once on Willets if you need a refresher course: Was that a Willet?
He does look out of character here starting to take a bath. I have taken a lot of photos of birds bathing and most are really disappointing. The only time they look good is as they jump out of the water. Or just at the fluff-up prior to dunking under the water like above. I took this from the truck window, Bill was out with his tripod and crate in the mud.
This Whimbrel was poking around the high water around bay houses at Surfside. If I remember correctly, Bill got to stay in the vehicle and I draped myself across the hood of the truck. Whimbrels look a lot like Curlews, but the bill is much shorter and they have more pronounced head stripes. And not quite as rusty in color.
It is unusual to find a Whimbrel perched on anything, so we got really excited about this one. Do a Google search for Whimbrel images and almost all are in the water and a few in flight. We were coming back from High Island and stopped near Frenchman Rd on the Bolivar Peninsula just before the ferry dock. Great place for birds if you are over there. So, this time he was on Bill's side of the truck, I got out and crept carefully around the back of the truck. I balanced the big lens on the corner of the truck bed and got some great photos. 36 in fact, he stayed for a while.
I know. But would you have passed up this Owl?
One house in Surfside has about five scattered around the premises; this one was on the boat out front. Looks pretty scary to me, but I don't know what they are trying to deter.
We have been playing around with wide-angle lenses lately. I am still learning, I don't think my mind functions in this genre yet. Most of the time I am disappointed in my efforts. I know, you need an anchor in the foreground, you have to get really close and all that... I need more training. Ha.
The above was not so much wide-angle as just a close up. We went down to the Richmond-Rosenberg area one afternoon to take photos of old buildings and collections to use in post-processing art. Now I have all these plant ideas I want to try. Garage sales often have some really cheap, permanently tarnished silver plated bowls that could make fun planters. This one had some holes poked in the bottom, a sprig of ivy and a fake bird's nest and they wanted $28 for it.
And in between chasing birds I have been finishing up the front yard. The change is just awesome. I love being able to see my house (and out of the windows) instead of all those overgrown bushes. I planted three dwarf Little John Bottlebrushes on the far side of the bench, and three Peter Pan Agapanthus in the bed under the Crepe Myrtle. A few Foxtail ferns and the rest are perennials and a few annuals I couldn't resist. And the Mandevillas in pots on the two trellises near the entry. Nothing that will get too big or need regular pruning/trimming. I hope.
So what is happening with you? Are you drying out from all our rain? Any landscaping plans in your future? Let me know in the comments below.