Birding Heaven

Port Aransas has a birding centre that was damaged during hurricane Harvey. The new facility opened this week and it’s incredible!

A flock of sandpipers fly in just as we arrive. I search across the marsh to see where they’ve landed, now camouflaged among the reeds, mud, and shallow waters. I follow the sidewalk to the newly opened section – a boardwalk that extends far across the waterway with a high overlook built at the central point.

Birds are everywhere and it’s difficult to know where to aim first.

“Are there alligators?” I ask a couple.

“Three.”

He points out where to see the largest one. I head that way. A huge beast of a gator lies on the grass just below the lookout tower. To the right, where the land juts out another gator is basking in the sun, surrounded by long grass, not far from a flock of Roseate Spoonbills.

A Black-Necked Stilt flies by and I decide to start with him. I love the elegance of these birds. Avocet, more spoonbills, some gulls, and moorhen swim nearby.

I head back toward the beginning, where Ric has stopped. Overhead a Purple Martin swoops in close.

“Hello gorgeous,” I coo. ” Any chance you’ll land for me?”

The bird flies low to my right and that’s when I see it. The third alligator. He sees me too and our eyes lock. I take a few pics and note that he is still fixed on me.

“Hey,” I say calmly. “I don’t mean you any harm. Go about your business.”

He starts to back up and that’s when it hits me: Do alligators back up before they jump? Can they jump?

I back up too, and take more photos.

He turns and disappears into the tall grass, but not before giving me another look.

I have that effect on people too.

“Did you see the alligators?” I ask Ric. He goes off in search of them.

I note a heron sitting on a small island. It’s a Black-Crowned.

Something startles the flock of spoonbills and they rise up all at once – a wave of pink wings. Spectacular.

Moments later, four startled bitterns fly off, and then a half a dozen more.

“Something has scared them off,” the man beside me says.

“Must be the alligator that was resting over there.”

“Have you ever heard their mating call?” the man asks. “It’s like nothing you’ve ever heard. The sound echoes for miles. Makes you feel like you’re at the bottom of the food chain.”

I think about the staring contest. I can believe it. These are formidable beasts.

One of the spoonbills has flown back and landed on the same small island as the heron. He is in full breeding regalia.

Ric catches back up to me just as the first drop of rain hits.

Time for lunch.

What a day! I check my camera for number of photos shot: 349.

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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.

21 thoughts on “Birding Heaven

  1. Fantastic experience – good to know the birding center has reopened.
    And good to know I’m not the only one who takes M-A-N-Y photos!! I’ve watched other stand for what feels like forever, aiming, positioning, waiting for just the right turn of a head … I tend to spend the same amount of time taking shot after shot after shot … then back home, finding the keepers. And that’s half the fun! I love photographing and I love the screening, editing.

    Your roseate spoonbills are gorgeous. Love the view of them all in flight.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Goosebumps reading this! That’s just too close to an alligator!! I’m enjoying reading and viewing your photos on these birding outings! It won’t be the same when you head back north! lol

    Liked by 1 person

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