The “Nest of Texas”

I first ventured into the Lone Star State in January for a conference, while we were there, I learned that it there are hundreds of species of birds that call that portion of the coast home…and many, many more that migrate through. It’s quite literally a bird-watchers paradise and is known as the “Nest of Texas”. During that trip, I saw more birds than I could hope to identify and even more at the Texas State Aquarium. I still think some of them *coughchickenscough* are terrifying little dinosaurs, but bird-watching is swiftly becoming a hobby of mine. THANKFULLY it’s a hobby that requires very little in the way of money and can be performed virtually anywhere.

So when I was back there this summer, I went equipped with my shiny new DSLR. I purchased it for my roadtrip out west…but figured I should get a feel for it before trying to capture some sweet scene and failing because of something silly like not using the correct setting. So on an evening when we were booted off the water by the wind, I headed over to the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center to see what I could see. It features a beautiful boardwalk that keeps you nice and dry as you venture over the wetlands and has a viewing tower to give you great views out over the area. It was a lovely evening of relaxation after a few days of working long days.

In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence. One has to sit still like a mystic and wait. One soon learns that fussing, instead of achieving things, merely prevents things from happening. To be passive is in some circumstances the most efficient form of activity. You cannot command events: you can only put yourself in the place where events will happen to you. No impatient man has ever seen Nature.

Robert Wilson Lynd
I arrived as the sun was entering it’s golden hour.
American Coot (Fulica americana)
Juvenile Neotropic Cormorants (Phalacrocorax brasilianus) maybe? Or Pterodactyls…your choice
Adult Neotropic Cormorants (Phalacrocorax brasilianus)
Not a bird…but still a dinosaur! American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)
My favorite bird of the trip…The Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger)!
Grumpy sentinel…one of the many Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias) that frequented the area.
A beautiful White Ibis (Eudocimus albus)…definitely not something we see back home!
Looking like something straight outta South America, this Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata) was totally unfazed by my presence…though I was several feet above him, I was laying on the boardwalk with my head under the railings. haha.
Before Harvey it featured a series of intertwining trails through the wetlands…now much of it is inaccessible as bodies of water that were once connected by marshlands is joined by water.
An adult Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla)
These things truly looked like dinosaurs as they soared overhead.

More random birds of Texas

Found a Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens) at the Nature Preserve at Charles’ Pasture
Spotted this Black-bellied Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis)
The Great Blue Herons loved to hang out on the rocks in our marina.
Another Reddish Egret
Pretty sure this is an immature (1st year) Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla)
Absolutely loved the coloring on these Ruddy Turnstones (Arenaria interpres)!
Another immature (1st year) Laughing Gull
The Texas coast has Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) in the way that the Northeast has Seagulls…they are absolutely EVERYWHERE.
Closeup of the Neotropic Cormorant…they have beautiful teal eyes!

Amos is an American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) that was brought to the Texas Aquarium after being found with both his wings fractured as a result of gunshot wounds. He makes a permanent residence at the aquarium, as he is unable to fly as a result of his injuries… this photo does not do justice on just how large this bird was. Having a 9-foot wing span puts it solidly as one of largest North American birds (it’s beaten by the American Condor which boasts a 10-foot wingspan).

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