Thursday, 5 February 2015

Birding at on South Padre Island - Pictorial

One of the reasons we like to spend the winter here on South Padre Island is the proximity to the World Birding Center.
On our first visit eight years ago, there were a couple of wooden boardwalks adjacent to the convention centre. A year later we were horrified when we saw the wetland all dug up. We learned that a new birding centre was being created. Last time we were there, three years ago, the birding centre was complete and the habitats restored.

Since our last visit, many zodiacal sculptures have been installed. This one is scorpio with one of the two SPI water towers in the background. This is facing north from the parking lot.
There are several of these water features around the birding centre. I'm sure in the hot, summer weather, the birds and butterflies appreciate the running, fresh water.
Out on the boardwalk, our first bird was a great blue heron, hunkered down in the lee of the wind, sunning itself, facing south.
This normally elusive clapper rail was sitting out for a few moments.
Texas is famous for its Gators. Several live in this wetland area.

As usual, the pied-bill grebe went on his solitary way.
Our bird of the day was this least bittern. It is very small - only about 33cm long (13")
There were lots of roseate spoonbills - also in the lee of the wind, at the water's edge.
Just to the left of the spoonbills were several pintail ducks - mostly snoozing.
Several turtles live there. In the foreground is a red-eared slider.
They were commonly sold in discount and pet stores when I was a kid. Released into the wild, they do very well in protected areas. I know someone who kept one as a house pet for almost 50 years until it died last fall. I believe the other turtle in the photo is a common Texan one but in my cursory search I haven't found the name of its species.

After our walk around the mile+ of boardwalk, Skip and I took the elevator up to the top of the birding centre. This is the view to the west and the Laguna Madre - the inland waterway between South Padre Island and the mainland. It is between 2 and 4 feet deep and is hypersalinated. This photo is taken from the 2nd floor of the centre.
Here is the view in the same direction one storey up.
My new camera does not take very good photos in low light. This is my attempt to capture a shot of this belted kingfisher sitting on a cement barrier while the nearby redheads snooze.
However, it does take some pretty great panoramic photos.

The left side of this is facing due north. In the centre is the Gulf of Mexico in the distance facing due east. 1/4 of the way from the right side is due south down the island. The far right is the Laguna Madre.
 Here, I started the pano looking due east at the Gulf again and swung around to look due west over the Laguna.
This photo gives a better idea of how narrow South Padre Island is. The Laguna is behind me about 300m. The road cutting horizontally through the centre is the main street - Padre Boulevard. In the distance are a couple of hotels located right at the edge of the beach. Our condo is only one mile to the south of here.
I'm in my happy place.

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