Posts Tagged ‘pelicans’

            “Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings.” –Victor Hugo

Minus One Sharp-Tailed Grouse


Only occasionally do I see western tanagers at Lake Walcott State Park. — Photo by Pat Bean

           I keep bird lists. These include a life list for all the bird species I’ve seen, a yearly bird list and a list of Lake Walcott birds. My life list stands at 702 bird species, the one for the year currently at 203 and the one for Lake Walcott, minus 1.

That one bird is the sharp-tailed grouse. Of all the birds that have been seen in the Lake Walcott area, it’s the only species not on my world list. Admittedly, it’s a rare bird for here, normally preferring more northern habitat, but I keep hoping.

Lake Walcott has, however, given me two lifers. A rare migrating Sabine’s gull that winters at sea, primarily off the West Coast, and a gray partridge, that calls Lake Walcott home year-round and which I’ve seen, among other places here, out the rear window of my RV.

Yesterday evening, the lake hosted a flock of Franklin gulls, a bird I’ve frequently seen but this was my first sighting of it here at the park. I think the flock was  just passing through because there were none of these gulls still around when Maggie and I took our walk this morning.

But white pelicans are on the daily bird-watching menu here. — Photo by Pat Bean

The visiting gulls, which both look and sound a lot like laughing gulls, were far enough out on the lake when I saw them that I had to use my binoculars to make an identification.

Birds I see here at the lake almost daily include white pelicans that make their nests on the opposite shore from me and which gather in great numbers below the dam where the Snake River froths up white as it flows down and over some rock ledges.

House sparrows, American goldfinches, black-headed grosbeaks, house finches, house sparrows, white-crowned sparrows, brown-headed cowbirds, Brewer’s blackbirds, red-winged blackbirds, mourning doves, robins, killeer, and broad-tailed and black-chinned hummingbirds visit my camp site almost daily.

And black-headed grosbeaks make daily visits to the bird feeders I put out. — Photo by Pat Bean

Common nighthawks and a variety of swallows fly overhead each evening. A red-tailed hawk frequents a huge nearby cottonwood tree; I wake to the hooting of a great-horned owl and the cooing of doves.  I watch western grebes, Canada geese, quacking mallards and an occasional pied-billed grebe and northern pintail swim about in the water.

Life is good for this wondering/wandering birder here at Lake Walcott. If I were to send a postcard, I’d say: “Wish you were here.”

Book Report: “Travels with Maggie” now stands at 31,331 words. While that’s just about 600 more words than yesterday’s final count, I did a lot of slashing and rewriting to make things read smoother. Rewriting can be both easier and more difficult than the first time around, which I already knew. The good news is that I’m having fun with it.

Bean’s Pat:  10,000 Birds http://tinyurl.com/8t62xry Check out these bee-eaters.

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The Quintana Jetty lets me hike out into the ocean. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” Mother Teresa

Travels With Maggie

I made many trips to Surfside Beach when I lived in Lake Jackson, Texas, many years ago. Getting there meant crossing a tall bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway, which stretches for 3,000 miles along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

Fewer trips were made to Bryan Beach, which is separated from Surfside by a mere 500-foot wide channel that provides access to the waterway and also to the port in Freeport, which calls itself the Shrimp Capital of the World.

In the past, getting to Bryan Beach meant crossing a drawbridge that was raised to allow boats to pass. Water vessels had the right of way, so it often took awhile to make it across.

Access today is provided by a tall duplicate of the Surfside Bridge. And since Bryan Beach is also now also home to the Quintanta Neotropical Bird Sanctuary, it’s the island beach of choice for me these days.

A ruddy turnstone sits on the rocks that line the Quintana Jetty. -- Photo by Pat Bean

A trip to either beach, however, calls for a walk on the jetties that line the shipping channel. Both stretch over half a mile out into the ocean. And while they might not be what one thinks of as a typical hiking trail, that’s how I consider them.

A walk on these narrow cement paths can mean a drenching, especially on a day when the waves are behaving rambunctiously. But the views are worth it.

I love to watch as the sea continually rolls into the shore, creating azure and white patterns of light and shadow that can be hypnotizing. If I’m lucky, I’ll see a string of brown pelicans winging by just above the water’s surface, or a cormorant dive beneath the surface and come up with a fish in its mouth. And I’ve never failed to spot sandpipers hanging out on the rocks beside the jetties.

Passing shrimp boats and dolphins are not rare either.

If there’s time, I add a bit more distance to my hike by strolling down the beach for a while in company of gulls, skimmers, plovers and sandpipers. Since I have a son who lives in the area, it’s a hike I get to take several times a year.

Life is good.

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