Thursday, April 28, 2011

South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center - Off Topic Field Trip

This has nothing to do with Gardening, so if you are not interested in beautiful wildlife, stop here and wait for the next post.

The Wife (aka the Student) was on Spring break after final exams last week. We took the opportunity to get out of town for a few days. I don't tolerate extreme heat very well so this is about as late in the year that I wanted to go somewhere warm. We went to South Padre Island, a long barrier island in south Texas that separates the Gulf of Mexico to the east and Laguna Madre to the west. Its location makes it a stopping point for migrating birds of many types.

We made a visit to the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, and we saw some beautiful birds, and even an alligator! With over 1 mile of boardwalk, there are different habitats at the center, with birds uniquely adapted for each.
SPI Birding and Nature Center

The most common birds we saw this day were the herons, from the small Little Blue Heron to the enormous Great Blue. We watched them stalk prey in the shallow water.
Little Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

I think the most handsome was the Tricolor Heron. It stood motionless against some vegetation waiting to spear an unsuspecting fish. It was not successful while we watched.
Tricolor Heron

Tricolor Heron 2

I don't know what kind this one was, perhaps an immature Great Blue, but his technique consisted of chasing small fishes back and forth in a shallow pool. Also unsucessful, but certainly comical!

Did I mention the American Alligator?

I know it's here somewhere....

Motionless in the reeds, save for an occasional blink.

I estimate it was about 6' or two meters long. Not very big, but I was happy to be up on the boardwalk and not wading!

I heard the familiar shrill of the the redwinged blackbird. This marshland was the perfect habitat.

The Black Necked Stilt is appropriately named.

Also spotted were the White Ibis and the Common Egret.
White Ibis

Common egret

Walking back to the visitor center the Black Bellied Whistling Ducks watched us approach.

What we did not realize, was the waste treatment plant was routing the now clean water into the reserve to help provide needed moisture in the form of fresh water. I like the usage!

We come to the end of the day....

Until next time, Keep Digging & Eat Well!

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