San Leon – The Other Birds

One might think so from my last post, but Brown Pelicans are not the only birds on Galveston Bay.  There be terns, Cormorants, Gulls, doves, swallows, Skimmers, stalking birds . . . that’s it, that all I saw.  I am sure there are more, but bird watching was not my main preoccupation while there.

However, I did catch a few for the digital canvas and this blog.

First up the terns.  I saw two kinds; the Royal Tern and the Caspian Tern.  

A Royal Tern after a successful hunt

A Caspian Tern on the hunt

I identified them based on the marking, and I hope I’m right.  If not, please correct me in the comments or in the SmugMug album (click on any picture to go there).

This next shot is of a Caspian Tern about to strike on a fish.  The outline of the fish is visible in the water.  If you can’t see it here, go to the SmugMug album.

A Caspian Tern about to get itself some lunch

 Aside from the Brown Pelicans, the next most abundant bird sighting was of Laughing Gulls.

Laughing Gull eyeing my impressive equipment . . . my Nikon camera and lenses

I never did see these guys scavenge, fish, or eat anything.  Pretty much all they did is fly by and keep an eye on me.

Next up we have the Black Skimmers.  These buys have a heck of an underbite, and fly amid the waves with the lower half of their beaks scarring the surface of the water.  The following is a slideshow of one of these fellows.

I was wondering how they kept from hitting the waves, but an examination of the pictures shows them adjusting their necks to account for the changing water surface.  You can see it in this three pictures series.

Skimmer slicing the water

Skimmer with neck extended

Neck back to normal

Now, I have to put my math minor to work here and wonder a couple of things.  It seems to me the odds of the bird’s flight path intersecting the swim path of a fish that also happens to be near the surface would be fairly slim.  

Apparently the odds are good enough. . .

. . . because I do see skimmers flying with fish in their beaks.  Although they appear to be small fish, so I still wonder if it’s worth the effort.  Apparently it must be, as they have been doing this for a good long while.

Other birds in the area include Mourning Doves . . . 

This dove is performing the "Look ma, I'm a rock!!" stunt.

Barn Swallows . . . 

Barn Swallow

Double Crested Cormorants . . . 

Double Crested Cormorant

And some stalking birds.  Well, I think they are all Yellow Crested Night Herons at various stages of maturity.

Yellow Crested Night Heron doing what it does best  . . . stalking

These birds look like they are intently watching something all the time.   Of course, I never saw anything, and by observations, neither did they.  

It's a striking bird

After watching a particular spot for what seemed like hours, they would just up and leave.

They are striking birds, especially their eyes.  Still, one has to wander as to their success with this particular method of hunting.

Perhaps they hunt at night (hence the name), and what they are doing in the daytime is memorizing where everything is so they don’t bump into stuff later, in the cover of darkness.

Whatever the plan, they did provide me with photos I can share.  

As usual, click on any of them to go to the respective SmugMug album.

The post is done and in the can . . . he's out of here.
The post is done and in the can . . . he’s out of here.