Saturday, October 25, 2008

Life Bird at Gulf Shores

We enjoyed the Gulf Coast Birding Festival in Mobile, AL, so much last year, that we decided to come back ourselves this year for more birding. There were only so many trips we could take during that weekend, so we will followup with the Alabama Birding Trail for spots we missed before. We would get up early to board a bus and drive an hour to the Gulf Shore during the festival. Why waste time on a bus both directions? We have a terrific time share on the beach and a full week of great weather and birding in Alabama to look forward to.

As we drove through the resort town of Gulf Shores, we saw the Wade Ward Nature Park right in the middle of town. After settling in at the condo, we headed to take a look. The sign warns of penalties for feeding the alligator, including up to six months incarceration. Well, I guess that depends on what part of the body is fed to the gator, doesn't it? Look, there's a little duck in the reeds, I notice. On closer examination, it isn't a duck at all, but has a large downcurved bill and chicken type feet that allow it to walk on the reeds. The field guide confirms our lifetime sighting of a Clapper Rail. The Birding Trail entry comments that the Ward Park "offers ideal habitat for bitterns and rails." Pretty exciting for the first day!
The boardwalk has many interesting opportunities in a few steps. Some kind of seed eating critter used the boardwalk to do his business. I'll have to ask Swampy about this. Could easily be a raccoon or possum. Two mystery bugs sun on the rail.
The most numerous flying creatures are dragonflies darting back and forth. Although I dearly want to take some photos of them, the only chance I may have is if one of the flies before me while I'm aiming at something else. And how about that! It happened!
By 6:00 the sun went down, making dramatic reflections in the water.
On the drive south, we expected heavy rain all day. However, we caught the trailing edge only. The sky was dark, dark purple, with thin white clouds scudding across. So dark, in fact, that the photo looks like a nice blue sky with fluffy white clouds.

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