Off To The Coast!

“Jump into the middle of things, get your hands dirty, fall flat on your face…then reach for the stars.” ~ Ben Stein

It’s difficult to believe that it’s been three months since the last time we visited the coast. Being only an hour’s drive from either Galveston Beach via I-45 or Surfside Beach via HWY 288, it’s silly we don’t go more often.

Today, we had the perfect excuse. The mid-80’s winter temps (ugh) dropped into the 50’s and it was promising to be a sunny, dry and beautiful day. My gardening is all done, so what better way to spend time together outside than looking for shorebirds and romping in the sand dunes?

We piled into the new wheels, ‘Colossus,’ on a maiden voyage to all things sandy and salty. To give you perspective on just how big this van is, here it is posed next to Hummie — the 2007 H2 with 100K+ miles that was traded in last month.

It was great while it lasted, Hummie, but we simply outgrew you.

Colossus (a Nissan NV Passenger Van) carries more in the boot than the Freestar and the H2 combined and still has enough room for 8 adult-sized passengers (seating for 12) — plus a potty. The four kids, who are just about all adult-sized, now have their own ‘spaces’ into which legs, arms, and gear comfortably fit. Everything else goes in the back, and there is no more need to pack stuff up on the top.

We have arrived, and arrived in style.

Yes, it’s as big as it looks, but with a V6 engine, the gas mileage is waaay better.

A little sand on the tires!

San Luis Pass

After a quickie visit to Quintana Bird Sanctuary on the other side of the waterway at Surfside, we headed to San Luis Pass per request from the kids.

We ticked off an early Tennessee Warbler in the sanctuary, but was unable to get a photo of him due to the thick underbrush. Still pretty slow for birds otherwise. In just a couple more months, we’ll be going back there to tick off as many spring migrants as we can! We went for the first time last year and were not disappointed by the one-stop variety of species. Go ahead. Have a look.

Once parked, the kids sprinted for the dunes under the highway. We headed for the water to see who might be there. Pelicans along with several tern species — Common, Forester’s, and Sandwich — were all diving and dipping into the water into an apparent fish soup, but as soon as I arrived with the camera, they all took off. Camera-shy, it would seem.

Sugar-y Dunes
San Luis Pass, Surfside

Some birds stayed on so that I could record their beauty to enjoy later on. The Avocet are just beginning to undergo their breeding color change. You can see the faint rust color on their heads.

American Avocet

Blushing
American Avocet

Brown Pelican

Coy, Not Shy
Brown Pelican

Walking Birders Only

In the tide pool shallows, a Common Loon surprised us when he suddenly flew in all alone. This water is usually full of Black Skimmers and Gulls and wintering ducks; today, it was all but abandoned.

Common Loon

Common Loon

Scott Scanning the Distance

We spotted our earliest ever Yellow-crowned Night Heron buzzing by at 60 mph. This species will stay in isolated spots along the coast rather than migrate to the south.

Birding Back At The Ranch

We are enjoying watching the Eastern Bluebirds go in and out of their home across the creek from us as well as a Red-shouldered Hawk nest (with Mama incubating eggs already!) above us in the canopy. Hopefully we will get to enjoy watching even more bird families come up on our property in 2017.

Eastern Bluebird

Nest Building
Eastern Bluebird Mama

Cedar Waxwing

Usually Heard Before Seen
Cedar Waxwing

Cattle Egret

Faithful Look-out
Cattle Egret

And like everywhere else in Texas, it seems, spring is fully here! The redbud trees are in full bloom and low-maintenance azalea blossoms now fill the void where the roses used to be.

The Only Roses Left

Azalea

Related Posts:

Where are your favorite coastal birding hotspots?

We are now at 113 species!

4 thoughts on “Off To The Coast!

  1. I live up in Chicago and one of the best spots is the coast of Lake Michigan. There might not be the variety of birds as some other places but it is always nice to see them interacting with each other. Thanks for the post.

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    1. I have no idea how I missed this comment, but rest-assured, I found it and am replying now! So sorry about that.

      Lake Michigan is one of our favorite places to vacation, particularly in the northwest part of Michigan. Beautiful beaches and the temperature is just right. Our coastal habitats on the Gulf make Galveston a favorite spot for many bird species — locals and migrant. We love going, even if the water is always like a hot tub. Thanks again for coming by!

      Like

  2. Congrats on the purchase of that nice big van. Any mom with 4 kids would appreciate that space between children lol. We had a full-size custom van and the astro van when our 4 were young. They would have loved this van back then lol. Yesterday was a gorgeous day for the beach. Today turned out good but started out very cold. Great pictures as always.

    Like

    1. Thanks, Sonya. Birdies are always wonderful subjects.

      As for the van, It’s the first full-sized one I liked, really more like a shuttle bus, and we paid the ‘used’ price for it even though it only had 400 miles on it. Cherry! We will most assuredly miss the H2’s 4WD feature. We used that a lot when traveling.

      Liked by 1 person

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