Sunday, 29 March 2009

A Walk on the Beach

Yesterday, Skip and I tried to go birding at low tide. It's an excellent time to see the shore birds scrounging for food. Unfortunately, it was quite windy and when it's from the the north, it blows water to the south of the Laguna Madre, so actually the water level was even higher than high tide. Go figure. However, it was sunny and clear and we spotted some interesting species including three kinds of sparrows in a 5 sq. ft. area: a savannah sparrow, a clay-coloured sparrow and a lark sparrow (the identification was thanks to a very skilled birder we sidled up to).

I only got a good shot of a lark sparrow.

We then decided to go to "El Limon" at Laguna Vista (just past Port Isabel on the mainland) for lunch where they serve lovely taquitos. Skip had barbacoa (barbecued beef) and I had bistek (grilled, then chopped flank steak). Mine came with fried onions and frijoles charras (a kind of thick bean soup). Each plate had 6 little tacos (soft corn tortillas). Mmmmm.

On the way back to the island we stopped to get our picture by the South Padre Island sign that is seen right as one leaves the Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge arriving on the island.

As there was no one to take our picture, I just put the shutter on 10 second delay, put the camera on the ground and ran over to Skip to get in the photo.

You can see that I had long sleeves and jeans on as the temperature was in the low 70s, which felt cooler with the stiff breeze. That is only the 4th day in all of the two months we've been here that I've worn long pants.

After Skip's nap, we went for a long walk on the beach which is easily accessible 1/2 block from the condo. On the way to the beach I took a photo of the house we want to buy when we win the lottery. 118 E. Marlin St.

I like the house number pressed into a tile the shape of the state of Texas.

We have no idea what the house is like inside but I'm sure it's lovely.

On the beach, we usually walk into the wind as far as we are going to go and then walk back with the wind at our backs.

This is what the beach looked like yesterday looking north

and looking south.

On our way back, about 100 yards from our beach access path, I spotted a plover. I didn't know what kind but I knew it was a plover. Skip thought it might be a piping plover (charadrius melodus). As chance would have it, I had my camera with me (the first time I've brought the camera on our beach walks) and I got a couple of shots so we could definitively identify it when we got back to the condo.

Yep, that was him. stubby bill, orange legs, broken chest band. He's a little bird, only about 7 1/4" long.

Sure enough, it was a piping plover - an endangered bird. Wow! What a sighting. They, like Skip and I, like to winter along the shores in the sunny south. They nest on northern Atlantic beaches and on salt flats around lakes and rivers on northern prairies. They lay their eggs (usually 4) in a depression in the sand (a 'scrape') just above the high water mark, where the eggs are often stepped on or eaten by other critters. That is why during their nesting times, naturalists will construct enclosures which will protect the nest from predators while still allowing the plover access to it.

That definitely was a life bird for both of us.

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