Bird Brain Chronicles, Bird pics and story

January 16 – The Other Side of Life, The Other Side of the Wetlands

Yesterday was a bad day. Not your ordinary, things aren’t going right, bad day – an especially bad day. I had gone to the bank to get our cash for the last half of the month when I got a text that my mother was being rushed to the hospital. I sent a text back to my sister that I was praying, and waited for the next teller. The phone rang and it was my sister telling me that my mom had just passed away. The phone call was brief, but devastating. I went back and waited for the same teller to finish what she was doing. When she finished she told me to have a nice day. I didn’t ruin hers by telling her why I probably wouldn’t.

My original plan had been to go take pictures after going to the bank. Obviously, those plans were derailed and I spent yesterday at home, mostly, dealing with the grief. As a Christian, while I grieve, I don’t grieve as those without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13), but I can rejoice that my mother is at home with the Lord. Yesterday was rough, but I made it through the day. Today has been a better day mentally and emotionally. I did get out to take pictures today. Last week I was on one side of the Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve, today I visited the other side.

 

We had rain most of the day yesterday and last night. I’ve always loved the pictures of water drops on leaves and as I entered the trail, I was able to get this picture. There’s probably nothing special about it to most people, but I enjoyed the chance to get this picture. There’s such a beauty when you see the raindrops on the leaves like that.

 

 

 

 

I’ve heard folklore about cardinals. I’m going to be honest with you and tell you that I don’t believe the stories. They don’t seem to have any biblical basis and it’s more of a superstition than fact. That being said, the first bird I was able to see and photograph was a cardinal. Superstition and folklore aside, I love cardinals. They’re beautiful birds. So, this first picture of the day set the tone for a good day, even though there weren’t many birds out today. Let’s face it…about the only time I don’t like cardinals are when they’re from St. Louis or Arizona.

 

 

 

 

Next along the trail was a white wing dove. We get a lot of these in South Texas. The white on the wing isn’t very distinctive on any of the pics I got, but as I debated on whether it was a white wing or a mourning dove, the eyes told the story. The blue circle around the eye makes this a white wing.

 

 

As I walked along, I saw, far off in the distance in the bay, these ducks. Given what I see most and the fact that I could barely see them, I figured they were northern shovelers. When I blew the pics up to 100%, though, they were a different type of duck. I had to look carefully, but they appear to be Northern Pintail ducks. That’s a new one for me, so that was exciting. I always love seeing the variety and beauty of the birds that God created.

 

 

 

 

 

Along the trail, I saw a bird do one of those things that kingbirds do when they sit on a tree, fly out to catch a snack, and then go back to the tree. I wasn’t able to get a real good picture of the bird. Google images says that it’s a house sparrow. I think it has too much yellow color for a house sparrow. I could be wrong, though. Any experts able to tell me what this is for sure?

 

 

 

There weren’t many birds out in the mud flats from the observation deck. I saw an egret, but it was so far away that I didn’t get a good picture. Then, two sandhill cranes came flying overhead. They’re apparently still working that cornfield where I saw them last week.

 

 

Heading back down the trail, I heard some beautiful singing I stalked the bird until I finally saw him. After discussion with one of the people in charge (later) and my own research, I believe it’s a long billed thrasher. They sing beautifully.

The Oso Bay Wetlands is a beautifully maintained park area and they have lots of learning activities for kids and adults. You can find information about this amazing place on their Facebook page

Bird Brain Chronicles, Daily Work

This One’s For the Birds! January 1-3 Pictures

One of my passions/hobbies is bird photography. As I looked at my work last year, I didn’t take much time for that. There’s nothing more relaxing to me than walking with a camera and finding a good bird to photograph. (Unless it disappears before I get the camera up…but we won’t go there.)

Since I live in Corpus Christi, which is the birdiest city in North America, or so I’ve heard. I though I would spend a little time each day taking bird pics and then telling you a little bit about them and the places I go to take them. After a while you may get some repeat info, but that’s ok. You can skip those parts. I’m hoping others will see these pics and want to follow my journey as well.

Since I didn’t start this on January 1, I’ll give a recap of those days.

January 1 was cold (for Corpus Christi) and overcast. This is the kind of day that the birds normally stay inside, huddled underneath a blanket, reading a good book while sipping a cup of hot cocoa. As I tried to think of where to go, I remembered that one place that there are always birds is the People’s Street T-Head. Shrimpers come into the docks there and sell off the boat. The birds are always around to help eat the culls from the shrimpers. So, I headed downtown. While we didn’t have an overwhelming number of birds, there was a good variety.

One bird you’ll generally see there is a brown pelican. Those guys are amazing flyers. I think they were the inspiration for the pterodactyls in Jurassic Park. I’m showing two pics here because I started chuckling, thinking we had the pelican version of Laurel and Hardy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another common bird on the bayfront is the seagull. Here’s a note, if it really needs to be said, is don’t feed the seagulls. I had a great laugh at the seagull in the picture below. We have a local restaurant chain called Boat ‘n Net. This seagull was on the back of a boat, tugging at a fish that was stuck in a net…so I accused him of eating at Boat ‘n Net.

 

 

 

 

 

Grackles are common birds in South Texas, and they tend to hang out around the bayfront as well. One thing you’ll never forget about a grackle is his eye. The eyes are beautiful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another bird I’ve come to love is the cormorant. I think this one is double crested. I’m still learning. These beautiful birds look like the Loch Ness Monster when they’re swimming on the water. Then they dive for food and come up 30-40 yards away. Here’s Nessie.

 

 

 

 

 

January 1 wasn’t a bad day, but it wasn’t a great day. January 2, though, was cold and rainy. I stopped short of my original plan and went to Lakeview Park. There’s always something around there. On the second, there wasn’t much, but we still saw domesticated ducks, which I didn’t really take pics of, Northern Shovelers and American Coots. My children think the Coot should be my spirit animal. I’m not gonna overload you with pics, since they were both swimming together.

 

 

 

 

 

January 3 started off cold and damp like the first two days of the year. After I got back from my picture taking expedition, the sun came out and would have been much better for shots of birds flying. (Faster shutter speed.) But, I finally got some good pics of Sandhill cranes! The first time I saw them, I stumbled on them by accident and they flew away before I could get the shots. The second time, they were too far away to get any good shots. Today they were within 100 yards of the path I was taking in the Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve. I was told that they’d plowed the field the other day and the sandhills descended on it. There were probably about a hundred cranes there. (Hard to count because of the intervening trees. They are beautiful, majestic birds and I loved looking at them and shooting them…on camera that is. This pic has an adult and a juvenile. (I coulda used about 20 others.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

I saw a few turkey vultures and a caracara flying around, but didn’t get any shots of them. I did see what looked like Roseate Spoonbills teaching a Snowy Egret (I hope that’s the right ID) how to eat. Two Roseates and the Egret were palling around and sticking closer than brothers! Here’s one of those pics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Later, a godwit (again, I hope it’s the right ID) came by and sat down next to them.

 

 

 

 

 

I saw a group of black birds and almost turned away when a couple of ladies who were bird watching also noted that they were Groove Billed Anis and not grackles like I supposed. I don’t know that I ever saw them in the wild and I know I didn’t have any pics of them, so I was happy to get a few pics. Here’s one where you can see the grooves in the bill that give it its name.

 

 

 

 

 

Even in a group of slow days I saw almost 20 different bird types. Corpus Christi is an amazing place to go bird watching. Stay tuned for more!