Admittedly, I was excited to go to Galveston Island, because I had the thought that a lot of the migratory birds would still be hanging around and I could see them. I didn’t count on it being a rather dismal day for photography, in which everything around was the same shade of brownish gray.
We certainly couldn’t see anything from our hotel room other than exotic Beach Pigeons (same as any other pigeon). The birds were probably all frightened away by the belching pseudo-volcano at the Rainforest Cafe that was the primary view from our balcony (we could also see the Gulf, when the fog lifted slightly).
Once we were awake (-ish, since the hotel didn’t have any reasonable coffee), we took a walk on the beach. This proved to us that it doesn’t have to be a warm and sunny day to enjoy the shore.
At first we didn’t see anything other than gulls, pigeons, and grackles, but once we walked down the jetty, we adjusted our eyes, and boom! There were some beautiful little ruddy turnstones busily picking at the moss and seaweed growing on the granite (from Marble Falls!). They were very industrious and blended amazingly well among the blocks. You really only noticed them when they moved.
We kept walking down the jetty until Lee stopped me and said, “Look!” Sure enough, there was a flock of what appear to me to be sanderlings, huddling together to stay warm, or something. They were at least a little easier to spot. They let us get nice and close, so I could get a good photo.
We also saw a willet, I think. It didn’t get close enough to get a good photo, but it looks very much like the ones who have visited our pond at the Hermits’ Rest. Since a godwit has a pinker bill, I think I am right.
Of course there were herring gulls and laughing gulls. I always think they are smaller than they really are. Many pelicans flew by, but they didn’t show up at all in the camera, since they were the same color as the brownish waves. Not bad, anyway!
Galveston Island State Park
We decided to use the rest of our limited time in Galveston to concentrate on my naturalist urges, which were to go find some un-touristy wetlands and locate some sandhill cranes or roseate spoonbills. Lee was kind enough to drive me off to the Galveston Island State Park, where we were theoretically likely to see some more shore birds.
I loved the scenery along the marshland, so even though the cranes were so far away they were only dots, and I didn’t see spoonbills until we were leaving town, I was satisfied.
I was looking at the kayak launch area when I heard a noise, and there was a rail, probably a king rail, coming out of the rushes. It let me take its photo before totally disappearing back in among the plants.
At the end of my exploration, I slogged my waterproof shoes through a very muddy trail to an observation deck. There my binoculars revealed an osprey, a cormorant drying its wings, a grebe, a very small hawk, mockingbirds, many song sparrows and savannah sparrows, and the second of two huge and glorious great blue herons we saw. Wow, those herons were amazing. I keep wondering if they were something else, since they had black on their wings, but they certainly weren’t sandhill cranes.
I look forward to coming back here on another winter’s day to see who’s around. It was very peaceful. The only other person we talked to was a fisherman who showed us his catch. The pompano were beautiful, and the whitefish were small but shiny. Some lucky Boy Scouts get to eat those!