Friday, January 29, 2016

Last Days at S.P.I.

Hundreds of gulls and terns take flight

Just a couple of days left on South Padre Island until we move on to the main land of S. Texas and our slow move back up the Rio Grande Valley.

We took a ride south to Sable Palm Sanctuary at the most southern tip of Texas  Walking through the trails we found many of the S. Texas bird specialties.
Plain Chachalaca at Sable Palm

White-tailed Hawk protects it's prey from vultures

Brown Pelicans wait for a hand out

Walks along the beach and channel brought interesting sights.  We also went to the Birding Center twelve times and also enjoyed having friends join us from Sheboygan, Wisconsin (Dave & Margaret Brasser) and new friends Steve and Sue, hosts at Bentsen State Par,.
Ruddy Turnstone

Loggerhead Shrike

Black-crowned Night Heron

Green Heron tries to blend in

Least Bittern succeeds at blending in

Laguna Madre

Harkening back to my (Ty) construction projects at the Wildlife Sanctuary, I took a great deal of interest in the channel dredging next to our RV Park.  The massive dredge cutting head removed sand and silt to a depth of 20 feet; pumping the slurry through a 3 foot diameter "umbilical cord" rubber pipe to the onshore steel pipes moving material 4 miles along the beach for beach enrichment.

Upon the completion of the 3 month project, the steel pipeline was separated into 714 foot long sections.  They were dragged with a backhoe,  3 large bulldozers and a end loader to the channel.  The pipe ends were welded shut, filled with air and with a floating barge crane and 3 tugs were dragged into the water.

The pipes were floated and secured into large rafts.  Tugs will drag the pipe rafts to projects in Alabama and N. Carolina.

A fun part of walking the beach is collecting shells.  We will not be keeping all these but leaving them for the next person in our RV site.
Redhead Duck

Black Skimmer

Reddish Egret makes shade to better see the fish

Osprey carries his catch home

Black-necked Stilt checks reflection

Harris's Hawk catches a large rat

We took two more rides to Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.  Always something new to see on the birding tour around the Lake or the Bayside tram tour.
Horse Crippler cacti

Northern Bobwhite at feeding station

You never know what will show up along the coast.  Like a large Loggerhead Sea Turtle who quickly takes a gulp of air and disappears in the waves.  Someone digging for bait at low tide and coming up with these soft 4 inch long ghost Shrimp.

Ghost Shrimp burrow

So we say goodbye to the salt water spray of the Gulf of Mexico.
Love & Prayers,  Ty & Ida Baumann

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

South Padre Island

Many of our days started with beautiful sunrises over the Gulf of Mexico.  We walked the beach looking for birds and collecting shells.  Each day brought something new.
Dolphins escort ship out of the channel

Ruddy Turnstone

Sanderling running the waves

Whole-leaf Rosinweed 

Oyster Shells

Brown Pelican free-fall for fish

Sting Ray

Snowy Egret feeding dance

Bay Bean
Man-o-War Jellyfish

At the north end of Isla Blanca Park is the University of Texas RGV Coastal Studies Laboratory.  Public is welcome to come see the live and mounted displays.  Can you find the Flounder in the sand?
Sea Robin

Striped Burfish 

American Bittern hides out

We returned to the Birding Center several times finding many interesting birds from the boardwalk along the Laguna Madre.
Reddish Egret - getting a close up

Marbled Godwit and Roseate Spoonbill

Little Blue Heron - bad hair day

Green Heron

Marbled Godwit

American Coot

Crested Caracara

We drove to Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge twice for birding tours through the salt-brush scrub habitat and many wetlands.  Amazing places and worth the ride up the horrible roads that should be classified as an obstacle course.
American Kestrel

White-tailed Hawk

Redhead Ducks most numerous at refuge

Altamira Oriole

Cottontail & Great-tailed Grackle

Green Jays

We walked the beach on Christmas Day morning and found a wonderful surprise flying overhead.  A Magnificent Frigatebird.
Black-tailed Jackrabbit has the run of the RV Park

At the south end of the Isla Blanca Park is a memorial to the fishermen who were lost at sea from this area.  As Jesus stands with outstretched arms to gather all to him.

With the New Year came a cold front that gave us chilled rain and high winds, but no blizzards, freezing rain, tornados, or flooding and we pray for those dealing with those tragedies.  The sun came out again and we are enjoying the South Texas weather.
Love & Prayers,
 Ty & Ida Baumann