Bird Brain Chronicles, Bird pics and story

Return to the Scene of the Crime

Let’s face it…last Saturday’s pics were bad. They were so bad they were criminal…sort of. So, yesterday I returned to the scene of the crime to see if I could get some good pictures. Well, I had another plan as well, but that didn’t pan out too well. The Suter Wildlife Refuge has trails going two ways from the parking lot. One is to the gazebo by the bay where I took pics Saturday, the other is through the trees down to the shore. Since I had gone to the gazebo area before, I started out going to the trees. In the past, I’d seen a lot of songbirds and gotten good pictures along this path. On this day, I saw two birds and didn’t get a chance to take the picture. They were too small, too fast, and rushed for cover.

double crested cormorant
double crested cormorant

 

One reason I didn’t see many birds, I believe, is that the city is doing some work on the Refuge, seeking to create a more native environment. It was pretty noisy. It should be good in the long run. When I got close to the shore, I didn’t see any birds, but I saw a few where I took long range shots. This double crested cormorant, I think that’s right, flew to join his buddies sunning themselves on a rock. Even with cropping, this pic looks a long way off. One of my dreams for this year is to get a longer range lens to use for these shots. I got a few other shots, but they weren’t crisp and clear. So, I walked back to the gazebo. Of course, since I could see the water around the gazebo, I walked quickly. I had seen a whole flock of white pelicans close by!

 

 

black and white
The variety of birds

One of the things that struck me was the beauty created by God just using black and white..well…maybe with a bit of orange accent. In this picture, you can see black skimmers, sea gulls, American avocets, black-necked stilts, and white pelicans. I thought the pelican scratching behind his ear was interesting…thought about my dog when I saw this. While looking at this picture, I noticed the green wing teals behind the pelicans. I looked for them, hoping for a better pic than the other day, but couldn’t find them, that I know of. I wished I’d noticed them while I was there so I could have gotten a better picture.

 

 

 

black skimmer flock flying
black skimmer flock flying

 

One of the most beautiful birds on the coast is the black skimmer. It’s black and white, with an orange accent around the beak. It feeds by fying just above the water and dipping it’s beak in the water as it flies along. According to All About Birds, “Possibly the best description of the Black Skimmer’s bounding, head-down foraging style came from the great seabird biologist R. C. Murphy in 1936. He said they look like ‘unworldly… aerial beagles hot on the scent of aerial rabbits.'” I usually see them in large flocks, like those flying to your left, or at the bottom of the picture above. As much as I love the picture with the whole flock rising up in the air at one time, I wish you could experience the beauty yourself.

 

 

 

brown peli swamped 3
brown peli swamped 3

One of the more humorous, to me incidents of the day was when a brown pelican caught a fish. If you can see the brown pelican, he’s just swallowed the fish. When he first caught it, the seagulls swarmed him, trying to get anything he might drop, or, make him lose the fish. The white pelican came over to help out his fellow peli….or so I imagine. Then, once he swallowed the fish, the other birds pulled back and later he was seen swimming with the gulls following behind like ducklings following their mother. (They attacked any time the pelican found something else to snack on.

 

 

 

 

 

marbled godwit
marbled godwit

 

Then, finally, this bird. I’m beginning to recognize some birds again. I thought this was either a godwit or a willet, and research leads me to believe that it’s a marbled godwit. (Willets have shorter beaks and longer legs, I think.) He just kept searching the shallows for invertebrates and plant tubers. (See what a little research will tell you!)

 

 

 

 

All in all, I had a great time on a beautiful day. I plan to do three of these Bird Brain Chronicles posts a week. I’m also trying to work a way to show the full pictures at a larger size so you can see the beauty of these birds. Please feel free to correct anything I said that was wrong, ask questions, or request a site or a bird for me to check out.

Note: I was just about to post this yesterday when I did something stupid and burnt my hand, making it hard to type. Sorry for the delay.

Bird Brain Chronicles, Bird pics and story

Return of the Bird Brain Chronicles!

I began a series of articles on birds in Corpus Christi, and anywhere I visited last year that I called the Bird Brain Chronicles. When my mother died, I put things on hold, and never got started again. Today, I decided I needed to get back to taking pictures of birds again, which I did at the Suter Wildlife Refuge in Corpus Christi. Then, I did a bird brain thing and didn’t realize that I had changed a setting when I too full moon pics a couple of weeks ago. So, these pics aren’t as sharp as I expected they would be. If you were to talk with my wife, she would tell you I whined about the pics the whole time I was picking the best of the bad lot I took. Still, I’m posting these because the birds are beautiful and I’m trying to document the birds I see. Be gentle as you look at these pics!

 

Northern Shoveler
Northern Shoveler

As you enter the the walkway over the wetlands, there’s a holding pond and outlet to the bay. I’ve seen a number of different birds there, but I almost always see this beautiful bird, known as a Norther Shoveler. This one was swiming in the outlet area after leaving the holding pond earlier. The Shovelers were flocking in the holding pond. I had the chance to talk with a couple from Fort Worth as we both watched. I enjoy talking with other birders, although putting myself in the class of a birder might be overstimating my ability as a birder. I saw a few Northern Coots mixed in with the Shoveler flock, but didn’t get a good picture of one.

 

 

 

 

Black Necked Stilt
Black Necked Stilt

I love black necked stilts. Their legs are so long that they do look like they’re on stilts. There’s an elegance to their awkward walk that makes me smile. This was the first bird I really noticed when I got to the farthest end of the boardwalk. He was slowly walking through the shallows looking for his brunch. (Brunch, of course, being served after ten and before noon.) I looked away some other birds when I heard a couple of real bird watchers talking about them, and when I looked back, he had disappeared. I usually see a stilt or two any time I come to this refuge and quite often in other parts of the city. I think they’re beautifu birds.

 

 

 

 

Green Wing Teal
Green Wing Teal

These are the birds that I overheard a couple of real bird watchers talk about. They’re beautiful green wing teals. They must have been doing lunch because they swam together, ducking their heads under water for whatver food they could find. (No pun intended.) I took a lot of pictures trying to get a good view, and I won’t continue to beat myself up by saying that I messed up the settings on the camera. That bothered me because this was the first time I’d ever seen a green wing teal. I am reminded though, that even more important than a great picture is seeing the beauty of God’s creation in person. I continue to be amazed at the beauty and diversity of God’s creation.

 

 

 

 

Brown pelican
Brown pelican

 

If you know me, you know that I’d have a brown pelican in the picture mix somewhere. I love watching white or brown pelicans, but I’ve come to realize the beauty and variety among brown pelicans is amazing. I’ve often said that Steve Spielberg must have been thinking of these birds when he designed the flight patterns of the pteradactyls from Jurassic Park. This one was a little farther out in the water, but in some places they’ll walk around within a few feet of people.

 

 

 

Sanderlings
Sanderlings

 

As we were looking at the birds spread out in the bay, these little birds cae running up the shallows looking for food. An old guy like me got tired just watching them running around. They don’t look too small in this cropped picture, but they were tiny little birds. They were so fast that when I looked away, they disappeared and I saw them later way off in the distance. These were new birds for a life list, if I kept up with one. If you think about diversity and variety in the bird world, you have sea birds like pelicans and great blue herons who are large, and then you have small birds like sanderlings – all of those beautiful birds playing an important part in our amazing ecosystem designed by God. I have a few other pictures that I could share, but I’m going to stop tonight. I plan to share more pics, and I hope that I get the settings right in the future. Look around as you walk about this amazing world and enjoy the beauty of God’s world.