I just popped in to wish everyone visiting Travels with Linda a wonderful holiday season.
Be of good cheer. Eat hearty. Enjoy your world. Love your neighbor.
|Travels With Linda||
We headed to Galveston Island in early December to see the Sandhill Cranes which winter there. Our little weekend outing almost didn't happen. We had a cold snap and a dusting of snow – our first in 9 years – just a day or two before leaving. On top of the cold spell, the RV decided to have a leaking leveling jack and went off to the shop. So our plans to park the RV by the bay at the state park changed to a reservation at the local Best Western. No matter, we had a wonderful, relaxing few days.
We still managed to visit the state park and enjoy some time walking on the beach. The picture above was taken during one of our walks. What is fun about the photo is that you are looking east – not west – and seeing the sunset reflecting on the Gulf and the horizon. Linda saw this (I was facing west to catch the sun going down) and said that if I took the picture people wouldn't believe the colors. She was stunned by the beautiful colors of the Gulf which is usually a muddy green. Well, here is the picture – believe it or not.
We were on the island for the cranes. Sandhill Cranes breed in the upper midwest and through to Alaska and most of Canada. They migrate across all of mid-America and winter in California, Texas and Mexico. The cranes are gray with some rust color and a red crown of bare skin on their head. They are large birds typically 4 to 5 feet tall with a wing-span as great as 7-1/2 feet. As you can see below, Sandhills are absolutely elegant in flight, flying with their necks and legs straight out which gives them a long, sleek look.
The cranes arrive on Galveston Island in November and stay until early March. By March 15th they will have all left for their summer breeding grounds. While on the island they are in all the large fields. They seem to have a knack for finding places as far as possible away from folks who want to look at them.
Click on a photo to see it in large size
All of these photos were taken at a great distance with the longest lens I own. None of the photos are what I would like them to be. Linda would tell you that it is a poor craftsman who blames his tools, but I can't agree. I am sure the problem is my lens, and the images would improve immensely with the lens I know that I absolutely need.
We were there for the cranes, but we saw lots of other birds as well. There were wading birds – egrets, herons, and ibises – and shorebirds – oystercatchers and black skimmers – and waterbirds – cormorants and both brown and white pelicans along with a number of different waterfowl.
Pelicans, Oystercatchers and Skimmers
American Oystercatchers and Black Skimmers are very social birds and tend to live in large flocks or colonies. The oystercatchers feed in sand or mud flats looking for oysters, clams or mussels. They use a long, heavy bill to open the shell.
The skimmer has an especially interesting method of feeding. The lower part of its red and black bill is longer than the upper bill. When feeding the skimmer flies very low over the water with its lower bill slicing the surface. When the bird senses that it has touched a fish, the upper bill snaps down instantly to catch it. Often you can see a dozen or more feeding skimmers flying in a straight line along the water's edge, all with their bills cutting through the water.
Brown Pelicans are year-round residents on the island. When we moved to Texas in 1981 the brown pelican was still endangered, recovering from the impact of DDT. Now they are thriving and easily seen all along the coast. They feed by diving bill-first straight down into the water from a height of 30 to 60 feet. It scoops about 2 gallon of water into its bill, drains the water and swallows any fish that remain.
White Pelicans are winter visitors from the same midwest and Canadian neighborhoods as the Sandhill Cranes. We often see them at Thanksgiving up on Lake Conroe as they work their way to the coast. The white pelicans are larger than their brown cousins and feed in a much more relaxed way, swimming on surface and dipping their bill in water to scoop up fish in their pouch.
Egrets and Herons
No matter where there is water you can find the egrets and herons. The two most familiar are the white Great Egret and the mostly gray Great Blue Heron. These two tall, slender birds can be seen wading in wetlands or along shorelines looking for small fish, shrimp, crabs, and amphibians such as frogs. Both birds spear their prey.
Click on a photo to see it in large size
Once the holidays are over and our RV is safely back from the repair shop, I am hoping we can travel down the coast to see the Whooping Cranes. These guys are very rare – less than 400 living – and winter each year on the Texas coast. Seeing them will be a privilege.
Two septuagenarians and a 35 foot motorhome towing a car – what could possibly go wrong?
You and I have memories
Longer than the road that stretches out ahead
McCartney & Lennon
one state at a time
"On the road again,
Goin' places that we've never been,
Seein' things that we may never see again,
And we can't wait to get on the road again."
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TRAVELS WITH LINDA
Iter est perpetua celebratione in saecula
DON & LINDA SIMMONS