Galveston Bay Birds

On Thanksgiving of last year we took another trip to San Leon, TX.  Yes, I am a little late with the pictures.

Anyway, Galveston Bay looks different in the winter . . . for instance, the temperature was in the comfortable low 70’s as opposed to the 104 deg. weather we experienced in late June of last year.  But it was also overcast, and it rained most days we were there.  Still, I managed to get some pictures I want to share.

I had fewer pictures, but I had a more diverse population of birds represented in those pictures.  Anyway, here we go . . . No, wait!!  If you go to the SmugMug gallery you get to see all the shots below, and also a narrative for the pictures.  Similar to the one here, but there are more pictures there (76), and you see more details of the birds.   The gallery is HERE, but for those pressed for time, this is the shorter tour.

Pelican Flying

Apparently Brown Pelicans change their plumage for the winter.  They turn gray. The weird thing is that I don’t think the locals I spoke with know that. They speak as if these are different pelicans who come in for the winter.

Maybe I just spoke to people who don’t care enough to find out.

Pair of pelicans flying

Some of my readers might remember the videos and pictures of Brown Pelicans cruising up and down the coast in long lines of what I called “the bad boys of San Leon“.  Apparently they don’t do that in the winter. The most I saw is two pelicans flying together. . . not enough to call a group.

But I did get decent shots of one fellow perched on a pylon off the dock.

Pelican perched on pylon

The sun was behind huge clouds, and only occasionally managed to add some brightness to the scene.  I waited and snapped pictures when I thought the light was as good as it would get.   While waiting for the light I passed the time by telling the pelican that I thought the economy was improving.  He found it humorous.

Pelican Laughing - 1

“No, really,” I said, “our politicians have our best interest at heart and know what they are doing.”  He had a hearty laugh.

pelican laughing - 2

When it rained I had opportunities to get a number of interesting pictures.

egret reflection

This one is of a Snowy Egret on the dock.  I liked the reflection on the puddles.  The picture is very grainy because of the low light.

Willet landing on dock

Don’t know what’s so great about this particular dock, but it seems to be attracting lots of birds.  HereKilldeer is about to be joined by a Willet.

deerkill and sandpiper

The Willet flew off, but the Killdeer is not left alone by the departure of the Willet. A Spotted Sandpiper (in winter plumage) joined it on the dock.

willet spread wings

The Willet returns, and does its best impression of the Imperial shuttle (from the first Star War movie).

egret unimpressed

The egret is unimpressed . . .

yoda willet

. . . so the willet does its Yoda imitation . . .

Willet flying off

. . . and takes off in a huff.

Really, this is not a good shot.  I included it here because of the water drops captured in mid-air. I presume they were kicked up by the Willet’s departure.

Meanwhile, the Egret gave me a decent show.

egret landing

I like the above shot. I wish the light had been better.

egret marching

The egret marching.

Another bird on a pylon

laughing gull

I had a tough time identifying this guy. I think it’s a Laughing Gull in winter plumage, but I am not sure.

The third day there was a sunny one, and we went to Galveston Island, and walked the beachfront.   There I got much better shots of another Snowy Egret . . . or maybe it was the same one.

egret hunting

These were in full sunlight, and so you get to see more texture to the plumage

crop of flying egret

I kept following it as it moved along the shore.  Most of the time it was oblivious, but once in a while it would notice me and fly a bit farther down along the shore.  It gave me a number of opportunities to capture it in flight.

The shot above is one of my favorite shots because of the texture of the feathers.

artistic shot

My artistic composition shot. Judicial cropping to convey a mood of . . . screw it; I just thought it would look nice cropped this way.

The Hop

Above, another favorite shot . . . I call it “The Hop”

The landing

Did I mention I had many opportunities of capturing it in flight?  The above is another favorite.

the close-up

The obligatory closeup shot . . .  the lidless eyes and cut of the eye opening give them an intense look. As if they were in a bad mood.

flying 3

You can see the negative pressure generated on the down-stroke pulling up some of the smaller feathers on the upper part of the wing.  You can also see it when he land, a couple of shots back

flying off

Eventually it tired of me following it, and it flew off.

sandpiper 1

I then walked along the beach some more, and snapped a few of the sandpipers running about.

sandpiper 2

Bird, waves, and seashells . . . I thought they formed good compositions.

running 1

These suckers are fast, and they hardly ever stand still.   It might not look like it on the shot above, but he was in a full run.

Lucky for me,  having good light and a fast lens allows for very fast shutter speeds to freeze the action.

running 2

Both feet are off the ground as he scurried about trying to put some distance between us.

And that’s it . . . the Birds of Galveston Bay, Thanksgiving 2011.

. . . unless one wants to visit my SmugMug gallery and see better versions of these photos, plus a few more. (http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/21040550_xLmRbx#!i=1672899256&k=sk5TgX3)