Friday, January 30, 2015

South Padre Outing: General

Yesterday was a sweet weather day - warm, but not oppressively so. Lorna and I picked up Steve and Sue at Estero Llano at about 8:30 and we loaded the Ridgeline for a run to South Padre Island, arriving there about a hour later.

Tidal mudflat, mangroves, Laguna Madre, sky - high sun at 2:00 P.M. ;-)

The town of South Padre was once a sleepy beach village. Now it had gone over to the dark side, with high rise condos and hotels, and a dozen t-shirt shops. Originally these popped up on the south end, but untreated, these festering carbuncles are rapidly spreading north along the narrow barrier island beaches. The Laguna Madre is extremely saline - 45 ppt (compared to the ocean gulf at 35 ppt). On the Laguna Madre side of the narrow barrier island is the power plant and the waste water treatment plant. The resulting fresh and brackish water of the tidal flats, coupled with streams that flow in and out with the tides, support large numbers of small fish that are a strong draw for wildlife. We did not drive for an hour for t-shirts and flip-flops; we were there to see those birds. 

I took a lot of photos, particularly Soras and Least Bitterns. These are both birds that are extremely skulky, hiding in the reeds, only occasionally giving us calls or fleeting glimpses. Yesterday both came out to play in the open, particularily the Sora, and I shot way too many photos ... which now I have to edit - sort through and delete 92.7% of them. I'll probably post a couple of more postings concentrating on each bird specie. Or maybe I'll just wander off and forget all about them forever. The weather is pretty nice today - I might just go out and shoot another sh*tload of pictures I'll never look at again. 

Also, at lunch time we went to Padre Island Brewing for a deep-fried seafood basket and an IPA - well, actually two (Paul would like to know). Really good. Talked to Markkus, the brewmaster, for a while about Nordeast Minneapolis brewpubs. He is a Minnesota transplant and closely monitors the Minnesota brewing scene. He grumbles about the changes to South Padre, but after 20 years on South Padre I doubt he'll only return to Minneapolis when they bury him. 

The pictures are mostly egrets and herons. They are just starting to come into breeding plumage. Another couple of weeks and they will be spectacular. For now they are just simply amazing.

Great Blue Heron

Snowy Egret

Common Gallinule (aka Moorhen). There was a Purple Gallinule, but accordling to eyewitnesses it was eaten by a Great Blue Heron. ???!  *burp* )

Tricolored Heron - this one is close to full breeding trim.

Great Egret, just a little breeding plumage on the rear.

Black-bellied Plover in non-breeding plumage (but still has black "arm pits".).

Great Blue Heron, he's getting there.

 Mottled  Duck, a close southern cousin of the Mallard. 

Reddish Egret

Green Heron

I'll probably get to posting the other pictures eventually.
Be well, G.


Redwing said...

Congratulations on the Least Bittern. We've never seen one in the valley during our winter stays. Sad about South Padre, but what you gonna do?

Ian Harrison said...

So glad you had such a successful day at SP. It's a long way to have gone if the weather turns bad or you don't see much. Guess the beer would have made it worthwhile though anyway!!