Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April 30, 2013--an interesting day!

Today was the day we were planning to visit The Birding and Nature Center on South Padre Island, TX, in hopes of finding some interesting birds to take some pictures of to share with you all.  However, the day almost ended before it began when we got up and couldn't even see the trailer 2 sites down due to the very heavy fog (although according to the weather people, it was just very low lying clouds???)  This first picture was about an hour after we got up, the building was probably 3 car lengths from the drive we were on.  This next photo was about an hour after the first one, not much better.
Here are the actual "low lying" clouds a couple hours later.  All day, the fog/clouds moved up and down, occasionally the sun even managed to peek through but other times it was quite eerie.
So we changed our game plan and went to eat breakfast, first.  Then we went to Walmart to pick up something we needed for dinner.  Next we went for a drive down Texas 48 towards Brownsville, TX.  We did not plan to go all the way to Brownsville, we just wanted to get to the wetlands around the Grand Lagoon (I believe it is called),
because the other day, driving back from Brownsville, we saw some Roseate Spoonbill birds in the area and I was hoping they would still be there to get some pictures of.

Guess what, we lucked out, they were not only there, but there was a much larger "bowl" (what a flock of Spoonbills is called).  According to What Bird.com
  • Their pink color is a result of eating crustaceans that have fed on algae.
  • A group of roseate spoonbills are collectively known as a "bowl" of spoonbills.
This was a really exciting find for me, as I've never seen them before. They were across a long expanse of sandy/clayey/mud and my dear sweet wonderful Mr. C went with me trekking across this muck to get as close as we could to get the following pictures.  It was a bit scary, as every once in awhile we would start sinking a bit and I was worried about quick sand.  He would stop and take some pictures, then move closer, take some pictures, move closer etc. until they started moving away from him.  We figured we were as close as they were going to let us get at that point.

Another interesting tidbit we found, while stalking the Spoonbills for their photos was a sign we saw, along the road, that said Wildlife crossing.  We have no idea what kind of wildlife lives in South Texas, but want to know, now, because I like the books "Who Pooped in the Park" and there isn't one for South Texas, but while stalking the Spoonbills we found some VERY large tracks going across the sand/mud/clay with this distributed along the way:  These were huge, each pellet roughly the size of a man's finger to the first knuckle.  Roughly 3/4" in diameter.
I've been Google searching for a couple hours now and can't find out what they probably belong to, although I'd guess some kind of deer or sheep, but it was big.  The foot prints were larger than my palm.  It looked like they had two lobes to the foot, but they were starting to "dissolve" in the wet sand/mud.  The only thing I can come up with are possibly Desert Big Horn Sheep, but since I didn't see the animal, I can't say for sure.  
Mr. C trekking back across the muck to the truck carrying a couple pounds of much on his shoes.  He wasn't very happy, LOL.  Good thing he loves me.

At the same stop for the Roseate Spoonbills and the "poop" we also found some different colors of the lovely Prickly Pear Cactus.  They are really enjoying this recent rain and blooming up a storm.  We were surprised, though, to find more than one color of bloom on the same Cactus.

After leaving TX 48, we headed back to South Padre Island and the "clouds/fog" had lifted a little bit so we decided to go visit the Birding and Nature Center.
We weren't sure if we would be able to see anything and, of course, anything dealing with wildlife or birds is going to be dependent on which birds or animals choose to show up that day.  This is a wetlands area on the bay side of South Padre Island.

There were two busloads of preschool to kindergarten aged kids there, so we made our visit a pretty fast one so we could get pictures of birds before the noisy kids scared them all away.

It is mainly fresh  to brackish (slightly saltwater) water with lots of water plants.  Supposedly there is a resident alligator, but we never saw a sign of him.  There were a bunch of fish that looked like carp to us.   I will do my best to identify the birds for you, but I don't guarantee I'm correct.  Hopefully if one of my blog readers notices a huge mistake, they will correct it in the comments.
There were lots of marshy habitats with many wading type birds scattered throughout the boardwalk.  This first big white bird (2 pictures), is, I believe a Great Egret, in (at least part of) his breeding plumage.

Yellow Crowned Night Heron

Tri Color Heron

Snowy Egret

Two birds, one snowy egret and the other, I'm not sure

Another Tri Color Heron

 Finally, the jackpot of the day, another Bowl of Roseate Spoonbills.  They are accompanied by what I think are Black Bellied Whistling Ducks.  They are the duck like birds with the bright orange beaks.  We couldn't get a clear enough picture of them to made a definite identification.

Here is a Roseate Spoonbill flapping his wings, isn't he pretty?
Black Necked Stilt

American Coot

 The final sight of the day were these two gulls on top of the "waterfall/fountain" in the parking lot of the Birding and Nature Center.

It was a very hot, muggy day, so we came back to the air conditioning in the Big Sky and probably won't go back out until our walk on the beach this evening.

I don't have a clue why blogger is separating my writing and pictures the way it is, and can't seem to fix it, so please bear with me and just enjoy what you see.  Hope you'll rejoin us, as we continue chasing our rainbows.  Smiles, Sue C



  1. Enjoyed both blogs. Love the Roseate Spoonbills.
    Beautiful colors. Think you saw lots of birds.
    Sorry it is so humid. Might not be in the winter.

    LY Mom

  2. Very cool. Sorry about the weather not cooperating. The kids are enjoying all the pictures of the animals!


  3. Really great pics of the birds, They are beautiful. Thanks V. for trekking thru the muck to get the good pictures. The cacti are pretty too, I didn't know they could have 2 different color blooms on the same one. Have a good day tomorrow and I hope your weather cooperates tomorrow. LY! G