Tuesday, January 05, 2010

South Padre Island on a Boardwalk

Today we woke with the sun for a beach walk, enjoying the Pelicans as they stood hovered in the air, kiting in the strong wind. The sun rose on one side, while the moon hung in the sky in the other direction. Sea foam surfed across the sand, blown by the wind. A gull danced a cha-cha in the surf to dislodge some breakfast morsel.
I love watching Pelicans. They look like Pteradactyls! The causeway to Padre Island has a sign warning drivers to watch for Pelicans. Apparently they get caught on the bridge and can't take off in the wind sometimes, so they get hit by cars.
The Bird and Nature Center in Padre Island opened their new building last spring, and it will be truly wonderful when the vegetation gets going. Almost a mile of boardwalk lead over the marshes and out into Laguna Madre. The bay is huge, and rafts of Red Headed Ducks, American Wigeon and Pintails drift there, along with a single female Hooded Merganser (I think). Then a Reddish Egret landed, and the water didn't even come up to its first leg joint. The Laguna's deepest point is only about 3 feet, so many of the wading birds stand right next to the ducks. All the birds were actively feeding all day.
Shorebirds are always a challenge, and finding them in winter is even worse! As always, other birds on the boardwalk helped us identify the birds which looked so similar to me. Our sure species count for today is 38, with 5 lifers, but I think we saw more species we simply did not recognize! We indentified this Black Bellied Plover, a Solitary Sandpiper and Marbled Godwit. A fellow birder pointed out a Long Billed Curlew - all firsts for us.
Padre Island has one alligator, which dozed in the sun. Ducks, Ibis, Roaseate Spoonbills, Moorhens and a turtle shared his pond. I think this Great Egret was tiptoeing past him, carefully watching the water's edge.
Of course, I like identifying old "friends" of the marshes, such as this Moorhen, Tri-colored Heron, and White Ibis. An Osprey kited in the wind and a Harrier strafed the marsh repeatedly. Life Species today: Long Billed Curlew, Spotted Sandpiper, Reddish Egret - White Morph, Marbled Godwit, Solitary Sandpiper.
Did I mention that this condo resort only has Internet in the Lobby? I prepare my photos and text in our room, then haul everything down to the Lobby to upload and check our email. There are five chairs and two wobbly tables for this purpose. I better finish before my battery dies!

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