My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Driving Miss Marilyn

October 25, 2016

Had to write this and edit pic with left hand because right is immobilized from shoulder surgery. Pictures by Pat Cox.)

It's hard to go off on adventures when one arm is immobilized and the other is only halfway working. But Natalie takes me with her, and friends are stepping up to keep me entertained.  Last Tuesday my friend Pat, came to take me on a birding trip on Bolivar Peninsula, a short ferry ride from Galveston Island.

I took my camera, with plans to modify my technique and use the viewing screen, only to find I no longer could take pictures using the screen. Pat is also a good photographer so took pictures with both his and my cameras and gave me the pictures in this blog.

So come along.  Birding always starts at the ferry parking lot.  Various gulls, terns, brown pelicans,and double crested cormorants are always present, while several species of herons can be seen near either shore. Magnificent frigatebirds soar overhead in the summer.  They were all gone, even though summer weather (highs in high 80s) lingers and shorts are the fashion choice. The dolphins are also entertaining and we saw several on the trip over.

View over ferry's wake

Long view to another ferry leaving Galveston
We started birding along Frenchtown road and through Port Bolivar. The tides were too high to find many birds out feeding.  In fact the only unusual birds looked like tamed wild turkeys.

Wild turkeys? In town?

Then we backtracked to visit Fort Travis where we enjoyed at least 25 marbled godwits. We found a few ruddy turnstones waiting out the high tides and saw a few terns, gulls, and brown pelicans.  Couldn't find a Vermillion Flycatcher or even black-bellied plovers.

Marbled godwit in the grass

We skipped over to Rollover Pass, a man-made cut between the Gulf and east bay.  it is named for the fact that ship captains used to unload their barrels of cargo and roll them over to East Bay and load them on waiting ships to avoid Galveston customs. This place ranges from birdy to super birdy, depending on the season and tides. Pat was taking pictures of distant birds and then we blew the pictures up and scanned along them.  We found a loafing group of avocets a few species of terns a lots of the usual suspects, including a reddish egret.

View of East Bay at the end of Rollover Pass

Teenage brown pelican gang

Several different species were loafing on a tiny bar

We turned around and started back. Pat had never been up Yacht Club road which used to be real good for birds, before it began to be developed.  It also has a boat launch right into the Intercoastal Waterway.  Paddlers can cross it and paddle in East Bay except when low tides and north winds combine to suck the water out until you can't float your boat. We found that the parking lot had been upgraded since I was last there.  We picked up two more species.  See pictures.

Tug pushing two barges as seen from the end of Yacht Basin Road

A juvenile yellow crowned night heron. 

One of three adult white ibis

We decided to make a quick stop at North Jetty, which is about two miles east of the Ferry.  There were a few people fishing but no interesting birds.  Either this area or Bolivar Flats are the best of the two adjacent sites depending on time of day, winds and tide height. Birds were in short supply and the light was harsh, so Pat grabbed a picture and we headed back.  But the last time I visited North Jetty, on another trip from Louisiana to Galveston, was magical.

At the beginning of North Jetty

We were soon on the ferry and headed home. It was a very enjoyable day. And we should be gettig lots more species here soon,  as fall migration continues.

The Complaint Committee

The sites we visited, plus others, are all on the Bolivar Loop on the Upper Texas Coastal Trail which is part of the Great Texas Wildlife Trail, a marvelous birding resource. We visited the sites in backwards order and had to skip Bolivar Flats, which often takes a few hours to cover.

On the personal front I'm healing quickly and can do more each day.  Because I drive a standard, it will be at least another week before I can drive.