My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Seabirds at Sunrise

January 3, 2016

I love being on hand to enjoy sunrises and see what each new day has brought me. But when the days get really short, I all too easily get diverted and miss the leaving time. And, at this time of the year, many mornings are  cloudy or foggy.

The first visible sunrise of the year happened January third.  I missed the first several minutes of it - got diverted - but had a wonderful few hours. My destination was East Beach in Galveston. But there were several pictures needing capture along the route so the sun was just making its appearance as I arrived at East Beach.

Below the Seawall

Dawn reflection, gulls, and waves

There I found most of the resident birds already out fishing,  although I was able to wade out into the surf to the top of my boots to take pictures of some skimmers, terns, and gulls. Then I walked on over to the ship channel and watched clouds of birds fishing.

Waiting for sunrise

Fishing time 

This group was still lazing around - I waded into the surf to get this picture. Skimmers were the bird du jour, but royal terns and a few species of gulls were hanging around as well

Skimmers look really different if you see them from the front versus from the side

 Then I walked on down to the ship channel and watched clouds of birds fishing.

The big ships started leaving and the birds flew to hunt in their wakes

Thousands of birds and scores of big ships shared the ship channel

At one of the fishing stops along the road, I found more masses of skimmers, terns, and gulls.

Skimmers rested shoulder to shoulder several deep and hundreds long

If you look carefully, you can see the lower mandible is over an inch longer than the top one - the birds fly with their beaks open and their lower mandible in the water.

Finally, I stopped on the way back at the beginning of the road to East Beach to get my final pictures, and a few more species.

Resting brown pelicans 

The first black-necked stilts I've seen this visit

They were in with gulls and skimmers

The pelicans were to the right, the stilts to the left, and on the light over the road was an osprey

I'm joining Wild Bird Wednesday.  Click on the image below to find great blogs on wild birds from around the world.  And be sure to share your bird blogs there.  It's easy and fun.

I'm writing this blog on January 10. January three still holds the record for the most awesome day of this year.  It had BOTH the best sunrise and sunset.  Gotta share one more picture.

Sunset from Galveston Island State Park