My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Goodbye to Rivers, Lakes, Bayous and Swamps

Natalie got a second kayak a few days before a scheduled Houston Area Sea Kayak group paddle. She wanted to go to a tracking test that day, but offered me her new boat to take on a Houston Area Sea Kayakers paddle on Dickinson Bayou.  I can paddle but not load or unload my kayak so she also got my racks on my car and loaded the boat the night before the paddle.  This is a short easy paddle that stops at a Mexican Restaurant for Lunch before finishing the last mile of the paddle.

Dickinson Bayou is one of the closest places to paddle on the mainland and I only had a short drive to the put-in.  Several paddlers were already there and several more arrived right after I did, so soon there was the usual pandemonium of getting kayaks off the vehicles and into the water.

I'm always anxious to get on the water so am usually playing around while the rest get ready.  Today I checked out how the new boat handled and took pictures of everyone getting ready.

Leader John getting ready

The last of the spider lilies getting pollinated

Leader John getting the group together

John giving us our paddling rules

John told us we would have a fast group and a slow group.  But we would all turn around in an hour and a half. I started off with the fast group, then, on the way back to the restaurant, paddled a short time with the slower group. Most of my paddling friends were at a Paddlefest in Corpus Christi, so most of the people on the paddle were new to me.  It was interesting to visit with the different people.

This is a very urban paddle to upstream of the end of our paddle

Most houses have boat slips for way bigger craft than we have

There was a lot of resting going on

It was a beautiful day and only a little warm

Enjoying the day and each other

We turned off a little side stream, paddled under a highway bridge,
and a few minutes later, arrived at the restaurant

We dragged our kayaks up to the bank

And ourselves up to the table

Natalie and her daughter. Ellen caught up with us just as we were getting our orders, and ate with us.  Then I left my camera with her and had her take a picture of her new kayak with me in it.

The last paddle of 2014

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Because this will be my last paddle for several months until I recover from rotator cuff surgery.  When this post publishes, I'll be three days away from my last surgery of this year.  I'll have to get my right rotator cuff fixed next fall.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wild Bird Wednesday - A Visit to Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge

On Friday, November 14,  my wrist was healing well from my carpal tunnel surgery and I found I could hold my binoculars and camera, so I could once again visit one of my special places, Anahuac NWR. This refuge is on the Upper Texas Coast and is only a few miles from High Island, one of the top ten birding destinations in America. It is a winter vacation land for geese, ducks, waders, raptors and some passerines, including vermillion flycatchers. The weather also cooperated, giving an afternoon of good light and warming temperatures, between the first two cold fronts of the season.

A hunting great blue heron

Loafing birds - how many species can you find?

The common gallinule seems to be in decline here 

A great blue heron hiding in plain view

Neotropic Cormorant

Great Egret

One of over a dozen pie billed grebes

The adult white ibis I saw - but saw over 100 white-faced ibis

A pair of pie-billed grebes were catching the invertebrates the ibis stirred up

There were hundreds of black bellied whistling ducks and scores of these fulvous whistling ducks

Great blue and neotropic cormorants

Swainson's hawk

A western willet showing a hint of his beautiful, patterned wings

The beautiful light on Galveston Bay near sunset

Check out the Gallery at Wild Bird Wednesday

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Coming Home, Homeless Style

If home is where the heart is, then I have a lot of them. But the Texas side of Caddo Lake has been a special place for me since I first paddled on it, way back in the 1970's.  It is one of the few natural lakes in Texas and was formed by an earthquake. It consists mostly of swamp lands, my favorite ecosystem.  And it has long been one of my favorite places to paddle where tiny trails pass through majestic cypress trees, then open up to little prairies that fill with wintering ducks.

Morning View of the Mill Pond

So when a friend wrote that she was going to go to Caddo Lake from October 21 - 26,  and was inviting anyone to join her, I immediately set up my trip itinerary to make it there by at least Thursday.  Then, I had a hard time leaving Utah, (It happens every time I go there.) so I had a couple of long hard driving days covering over 1200 miles.

But it was worth it to get to re-visit Caddo Lake in the company of several of my friends.

It was a little too dark yet for a good picture but I couldn't resist this composition

Loved meeting up with one the birds and my favorite plants, beautybush

New-to-me boat for the po' folks that don't have paddle craft

Carol getting ready for Saturday's paddle

Fear not - that strange single bladder is just Dutch

Natalie back to being able to push all this through the water a year after her rotator cuff surgery

Giant salvinia is stealing our paddle routes and killing off plants and animals

Water hyacinth, another terrible invasive is losing out to giant salvinia

I got ahead of Dutch and Tracy, then got a frontal view of them.  Note the baby in the passing boat

Winnie took this picture of me in her husband's kayak, Thanks Wayne. 

The group coming into a store for a pit stop

This is a great, funky way to disguise a propane tank

I never get tired of the view from my kayak

The weather was absolutely delightful
We finished the evening with a shared meal and good conversation around a campfire. Life is good.

I spent Sunday packing up, cooking breakfast for Natalie and Ellen, and then following them home on the last leg of my winter migration.