Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Pelican Island: June 2017

Our first stop on our first morning in Galveston was Pelican Island. Part of my goal was to get away from sunbathers and fishermen a bit to have a better chance of seeing birds that were less comfortable around people.  I read that Pelican Island had a dirt road that led to a shallow salt bay and figured that seemed like a promising location.  The part about traveling at your own risk because the road could be rough?  That part I ignored.

(Foreshadowing -- a sign of quality entertainment!)

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Pelican Island
Things got off to a promising start with a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron close enough that I could shoot it from my driver's seat.  Winning!

I proceeded down the road, which really didn't seem too bad.  I did my best to weave around any puddles since I had no way of knowing exactly how deep they were.  At least, I started off doing that.  Eventually I got a tad ... overconfident.  And when I thought I could probably get through one spot with my right wheels going through a puddle, I quickly learned that I actually could not.  Yup, I got stuck.

Thirty minutes of finding pieces of wood to put under my futilely spinning right front tire was getting me nowhere.  Fortunately, a pair of young Coast Guardsmen in a small Kubota tractor came upon us as they were out checking on some towers and towed me out in a jiffy.  Always ready, indeed!

Black-necked Stilt, Pelican Island
While my rescuers drove back to their truck to fetch a tow cable, I patrolled the area immediately around our car on foot and found a Black-necked Stilt... 

Clapper Rail, Pelican Island
...and a Clapper Rail, possibly a juvenile judging from the size and head plumage.  So being stuck in the mud may have been a blessing in disguise, as I doubt I would have seen either of these birds if I'd just continued my drive!

Willet, Pelican Island
Once out of my predicament, I decided turning around was a wiser move than trying to go any further.  On the way back to the main road I at least caught a Willet strolling along the shore.

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Pelican Island
The biggest treat of the whole misadventure came right as we were about to cross the bridge back to Galveston. I spotted a pair of resting birds in a marshy area along the road out of the corner of my eye, and upon turning around for a closer look was delighted to discover that they were Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks!  This is my first ever shot of these birds, which in itself made our time in the mud worthwhile!

Taryn disagrees with that assessment, but that's a 13-year-old for you.  She doesn't like me saying that we were rescued by the Coast Guard, either. :)