Sunday, May 11, 2008


Had a chance to visit the Texas Gulf Coast last weekend and this weekend for some rather rural coastal adventures. Kayaked, bird watched, alligator-watched, fished the brackish sloughs and the salty bay, bird watched some more, and enjoyed the gulf breezes. Both weekends it was fairly hazy along the coast making for slightly overcast days and cloudy weather. Several fronts have been coming in one after the other and the weather this spring seems unusually cool for Texas. The areas to the east of Tres Palacios Bay are sparsely developed and much less touristy than other Texas coastal towns making for a peaceful, more primitive experience along the waterfront. Lots of wildlife here!

In the bay a large group of Black Skimmers were congregating on the oyster beds along with some seagulls and American Oystercatchers. The Black Skimmers are very identifiable shorebirds because they are the only species in which the lower bill is longer than the upper bill. When they fly low over the water, they dip the longer mandible into the water and skim the surface to pick up small fish, snapping the bill shut on them! They are the ones with the orange and black bills.

One of the neat things about this area is the multiple brackish water sloughs that wind inland from the bay and provide a perfect habitat for all sorts of marsh critters and birds. This place is excellent for seeing a variety of birds and not too shabby for other wildlife forms too. It seems like there is always something new and different moving around in the water or back in the weeds to get your attention!!!! While I was kayaking a local fisherman pulled in an EEL on his line! That is a first for me, I didn't know we had eels in the bay!

A little later on in the day I was kicking back and enjoying fishing and bird watching near one of the sloughs when I noticed that a small 'gator had approached to "human-watch" me! He wasn't particularly scared (which did make me just a wee bit nervous) and came within 5 or 6 feet of me! A sudden movement from me sent him reeling back underwater with a large splash. I decided to find some higher ground with maybe not so many of his friends wading around- just in case they hadn't eaten in awhile!!!!

Spider Lillies were in full bloom along the slough is a little hard to see in the second picture, but they line the banks of the sloughs and basically anywhere there is shallow standing water. Those little white specks in the second picture are the plants in full bloom. This is definitely a wetland loving plant with an exotic-looking bloom!

Most of the land on this coastal peninsula is wetlands with shallow sloughs slicing through and winding around the area. Any of the slightly higher ground is occupied by cattle ranches and fish or rice farms. Later on in the evening on this day I crossed paths with some coastal deer just browsing with a cattle herd. They weren't very skittish which allowed me a short photo session and video clip before moving on. Until next time - Happy trails!

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