Tag: SouthPadreIslandTX

Identifying the doves: Eurasian Collared-Dove & Inca Dove

There are two more bird pages live under the bird tab. This time it was adding in two additional dove pages for the two doves that I had spotted and gotten pictures of years ago in South Padre Island, Texas.

Eurasian Collared dove sitting on a roof

The first one, for some reason I misidentified as a mourning dove–white it has the black crescent on the back of the neck, it is missing the black dots on the wings. Therefore, it turns out that I actually managed to get a couple of pictures of a Eurasian collared dove on a roof.

These doves aren’t native to the ‘New World’, and were originally brought to the Caribbean to be sold as pets in pet stores, but in the 1970s were released from a pet store in the Bahamas. It took them about ten years or so to make their way to Florida, and have been spreading throughout the states and Mexico ever since. For some reason though, they haven’t made much headway into the Northeastern part of the country or into Canada.

The second dove I spotted, I truthfully forgot about until I was going back through the pictures, because of how well it blended in with the grasses.

Inca Dove on the ground

It turns out that I also managed to get a couple pictures of an Inca dove as well.

This dove is mainly found in the southwestern parts of the country, even though there have been sighting of it up in Colorado. They have the coloring to blend in with the arid, desert landscapes of the American Southwest.

Photography goals will be trying to get additional pictures of the doves using my other camera (that has a slightly better zoom), and possibly getting a picture of more than one roosting on a wire or tree branch.

With the addition of these two pages, the pigeon/dove group is ‘complete’ as of today. There are still more pigeons and doves that can be spotted within the US, not to mention around the world.

What is your favorite dove/pigeon species?

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Reflecting on World’s Ocean Day: Creatures seen in the wild

Oceans cover approximately 70% of the earth’s surface (with the five ocean basins being the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic, and Antarctic (newest one to be recognized)).

Aside from covering majority of the surface of the earth, they also produce ~50% of our oxygen (cyanobacteria and plankton), absorb ~30% of the carbon dioxide produced, and serve as both the main source of protein for over a seventh of the world’s population (over 1 billion people), and also as a source of income–~40 million people are to be employed by ocean-based industries by 2030.

But we’ve also depleted 90% of the big fish population, and (through global warming) have destroyed/killed about half the coral reefs (coral reef bleaching occurs when the coral expel the symbiotic cyanobacteria/plankton living within it due to ‘overheating’).

June 8 has been set aside as ‘World’ Ocean Day’ for several years now. Each year there is a theme for the day, and this year the theme is ‘The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods’. In addition to the launch of ‘A decade of challenges to [reach] the Sustainable Development Goal [#] 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources’ by 2030.

I’ve always been fascinated by the oceans–especially the number of creatures living under the waves. I even contemplated sutdying marine biology in college (either undergrad or grad)–but didn’t have the grades for a full scholarship at any school that offered teh degrees, so I’ve decided that I could always become an ‘amateur marine biologist’.

I’ve been to the ocean(s) only an handful of times throughout my life. I don’t remember the trips to the beach when I was a toddler; therefore the first time I was in the ‘ocean’ was in college on a class trip to Honduras and swimming in the Caribbean Sea.

Since that trip, I’ve been (back) to the Atlantic Ocean (when I was in Boston for my first postdoc), the Pacific Ocean (when I went to Hawaii after passing my qualifying exams in grad school), and the Gulf of Mexico on a family trip years ago.

I’ve managed see some wildlife and get pictures, and they include:

Green Sea Turtle swimming in Hilo Bay, Hilo Hawaii

Currently the only time I’ve seen a sea turtle in the wild was when I went to Hawaii back in 2009. I stayed on the island of Hawaii, and on Hilo Bay, so I would walk out and see what type of wildlife I could spot. The green sea turtle was present quite a few days, and according to some locals, if I’d gotten up a little earlier I would have also spotted the sting ray as well swimming through the bay.

I also managed to get some picture of some of the smaller marine fish as well on the trip:

Possibly the Moorish Idol swimming in Hilo Bay, Hilo Hawaii

My little handheld digital camera is waterproof to a certain depth, so once I spotted some fish I tried to stick the camera in and get some pictures (sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t). I would like to go back to Hawaii (and the Caribbean) to snorkel and get some more pictures of life under the waves.

When I was out in Boston, I managed to get a small handful of pictures of various marine life:

Whale watching

I went on several whale watching cruises, and the best pictures actually came from the second trip. I think this was a humpback slightly breaching the surface. I would like to go on another cruise (especially since I have a slightly better camera), as I’ve noticed when the aquarium posts pictures, other wildlife has also been spotted (large fish and even a shark or two).

Moon Jellyfish in the Boston Harbor

Since I also enjoyed walking along the harbor–one afternoon I spotted some jellyfish swimming in the harbor. Luckily I was able to get a couple of decent pictures of them.

Finally, when we were down at South Padre Island, Texas years ago I managed to get a couple pictures of various invertebrates in the bay:

Nautilus in the bay

One was a semi-close up of a young nautilus (a very ancient mollusk family–basically considered ‘living fossils’).

Nautilus and other hermit crabs in the bay

Here is a zoomed out picture showing the nautilus and other hermit crabs in the bay that evening.

I would love to get back to the ocean and snorkel (having either gotten contact lens and a good snorkel mask or just a good snorkel mask that could fit over my glasses–since I’m ‘blind’ as a bat without them), but also see other wildlife (from a good safe distance–so a cruise or boat ride) such as orcas, dolphins, or even a shark or two.

What marine animal(s) have you spotted in the wild?

Reference for world ocean day: https://www.un.org/en/observances/ocean-day

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Crested Caracara, currently the solo member of the falcon family

So I managed to get another series of bird pages up under the bird tab this week.

The pages are for the Falconiformes order, the single family that makes up the order (Falconidae), and currently the only member of the family that I have pictures of: the crested caracara.

Crested Caracara

This particular member of the falcon family is only found in certain parts of a few states, otherwise it is spotted more regularly within Mexico and Central America.

This was a ‘new’ bird for me that I spotted years ago on our family vacation down to South Padre Island, Texas.

What struck me most about this bird was its cap of black feathers (though difficult to tell the color in the picture) and the contrast to the bright orange beak. I think we saw two or three different adults sitting on the top of yuccas just looking over the terrain.

I would like to get back down the South Padre Island again and drive through the wildlife refuge (where the pictures were originally taken) and see if 1) I can spot another crested caracara, 2) if areas managed to refill with water (when we originally went, Texas was going through a drought so some areas were dry instead of flooded), and 3) possible to see another ‘new’ to me bird.

No Comments bird watchingnatureNature PreservesPhotographyReflections

Final Heron and Egret pages are now live.

So over the weekend I managed to get the last four pages (to date) up for the herons and egrets.

This also means that I’ve managed to get pages posted for all birds from the order Pelecaniformes that I’ve gotten pictures of outdoors.

Great Egret peering into the water shortly after dawn at Boomer Lake.

The final four bird pages that were posted this weekend covered the Great (or Common) Egret, the Little Blue Heron, the Tricolored Heron, and the Reddish Egret.

Little Blue Heron walking through the brush at the birding and nature center, South Padre Island TX

Out of these four–I’ve only seen the Great Egret in two locations (South Padre Island & Boomer Lake in Stillwater OK). The other three have been spotted solely down in Texas during a summer vacation years ago.

Reddish Egret in the bay at the birding and nature center in South Padre Island TX

So there are still several members of the Ardeidae family that I haven’t spotted and would like to get a picture of and they include: the American bittern, the Least bittern, the snowy egret, the cattle egret, and the yellow-crowned night heron.

Tricolored Heron in the bay at the birding and nature center in South Padre Island TX

In terms of the Pelecaniformes order, there are in total ~110 species around the world and I’ve seen 12 of them–which means I’ve seen/spotted roughly ten percent of the order in the wild. Goal will be to get that percentage up to twenty-five to thirty percent (which means spotting another sixteen to twenty-one species in the wild).

Moving forward, my goal is to publish two to three bird pages a week, in addition to at least one blog post announcing which pages are up as well.

The next set of birding pages to be added will cover the woodpeckers (and there will be two new pages in addition to the pages on the order & family), then on to the hawks, eagles, and kite group (with quite a few additional pages added), and finishing up with the hummingbirds (currently will pages for the order and family).

Once I’ve gotten caught up those pages, I will start working though a master list I’ve created of all birds (seen within the US and currently the UK) I’ve gotten pictures of in the wild.

No Comments bird watchingnatureNature PreservesPhotographytravel

Pelican pages are live on the bird section

As I mentioned yesterday that I’m slowly adding pages under the birds, birds, and birds section.

One of the reasons was I wanted a little more order to how the pages looked in the drop-down and not just have a list of basically 90 different birds. Since I had already posted several different bird pages, I decided to finish up those groups before adding more.

Brown Pelican flying over the bay

I originally started with pages for the bald eagle, red-bellied woodpecker, downy woodpecker, ruby-throated hummingbird, and the great blue heron. This gave me four different bird orders to research, several different bird families to research, and possibly numerous other bird pages to add (if I had pictures of said birds).

I decided to start with the order Pelecaniformes that includes the great blue heron (family Ardeidae). This order has in total five different families, but currently I am only describing/talking about three of them (ones that have family members that can be spotted within the United States–in the wild and not the zoo).

So with that being my starting point–the two pelican pages have been live for probably about two weeks now.

Brown Pelicans flying over the beach

Pelicans belong to the family Pelecanidae. The pages that I currently have are for the white pelican and the brown pelican (the two species that are found in the United States).

As mentioned on the pages–one photography goal is to get a better picture of a brown pelican, and possibly a picture of a brown pelican diving into the water after its meal.

White pelican resting at Boomer Lake

Long-term photography goals include getting the picture of at least two other pelican species in the wild (but that will require at least one trip outside the US–which is on hold until the pandemic is under control & I have managed to get the vaccine shot for SARS-CoV2)

No Comments bird watchingnaturePhotographytravel

Photography Challenge Day 128: Reptile Tuesday

I know, its suppose to be Turtle Tuesday–but I couldn’t decide on a turtle picture to share, so I decided I’d do a group post and make it reptile Tuesday instead.

In terms of age–reptiles are one of the oldest groups of animals on the planet. The taxa group Reptilia include all living reptiles (snakes, crocodiles, alligators, turtles, lizards, and tuatara), and their extinct relatives.

Alligator at the birding center, South Padre Island TX

I was lucky to get the picture of this alligator before it decided to retreat back below the waters. Crocodiles and alligators are actually more closely related to birds, then they are to other reptile groups.

Box turtle seen on walk at Devil’s Den State Park in Arkansas

There is one reptile that I haven’t seen that many of lately–turtles, and I’m not talking about water turtles–I’m talking about box turtles. I use to see these guys constantly and even helped one or two cross busy intersections (to make sure that they wouldn’t get hit by cars). I have only seen at most two over the past couple of years.

This guy was a large one that I spotted on an evening walk in Devil’s Den State Park in Arkansas a few years ago.

The only reptiles that I will admit to avoiding are the ones that can harm me–so mainly the poisonous snakes, and I don’t plan on getting really close to any alligator or crocodiles either.

I’m going to have to see if I’m able to spot any box turtles or lizards this summer–I’ve already spotted the water turtles, and water snakes so I’d like to see if I can spot other reptiles this summer in addition to these.

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Photography Challenge Day 123: Throwback Thursday Edition no. 2

So today’s photographs are throwback photographs to prior vacations or weekend getaways, again.

Waves on the beach in Maine

When I was out in Boston, I managed to make it up to Maine once or twice to visit with distant family (third or fourth cousins)–once was over Thanksgiving, and then I managed to get up there more or less for a full weekend.

The beaches were more rocky around parts of Portland–actually had lunch on a refitted ship–that was an interesting experience. I enjoyed the brief times I made it up to Maine, and would love to go back and make it up to Acadia National Park around Bar Harbor for hiking and camping (just need to find someone else to go with).

Nautilus seen in bay on South Padre Island, TX

It’s been almost six years since we took a trip down to South Padre Island (with a brief stop in San Antonio).

One of the unique things that I liked was trying to take pictures of life under the water. I have had very few chances of using my digital camera underwater–mainly because I have yet to find a snorkel mask that will fit over my glasses comfortably. I know that I could get contact lens for swimming–but I rub my eyes way to often, and they’re a no go because of that.

The nautilus was actually in a group with some other hermit crabs and other aquatic life when we went to watch the sun set over the bay.

Nautilus and other shell dwelling creatures.

I’d like to get back to South Padre Island and try either kayaking in the bay or using my standup paddle board. That is another thing I’ve realized–I’d like to be close to some body of water (lake, river, pond) that I can maybe take my paddle board out on every so often.

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