April 24, 2015

  • Baby Doves

    BMDvs 1r

    ~ baby mourning doves ~

    BMDvs 2r

    BMDvs 3rs

    They were right below our office window, under the feeders;
    the two babies were not getting very far from their mama,
    but she gently tried to put a little distance between them after a bit.

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    "Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?"
    Isaiah 60:8

April 12, 2015

  • Red-Winged Blackbird

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    Yesterday afternoon, this handsome gentleman paid a call to the feeder outside our office window.

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    He squawked quite a bit ~ I'm not sure why ~ no one was paying attention except me.
    His scarlet epaulets were quite striking ~ brilliant red in the bright sunlight.

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    Every time he opened his mouth, his red shoulders flared out to better show them off.

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    He made quite the racket ~ very distracting ~ they actually have a trilling song
    that is much more pleasing to the ear, but he was just all about squawking yesterday ~ ;)

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    These harbingers of spring don't come to the feeder often ~ they feed
    mostly on insects ~ although in winter, they switch to seeds and grains.

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    I think, on this particular afternoon, he just wanted to be noticed ~ and he was ~ :)
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    "And all the people took notice of it, and it pleased them . . ."
    II Samuel 3:36

April 5, 2015

  • Happy Resurrection Day!

    Lunar eclipse 040415rs

    I took this photo of the lunar eclipse yesterday morning with my old camera
    since the "sensor debris" would not show up on a dark photo.
    My new camera does not do as well with photos in the dark, it seems like;
    but that could just be because I don't yet know HOW to operate it correctly ~ :-/

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    Just thought I would share a few house sparrow photos with you;
    these nuisance birds can still be entertaining and sometimes even pose a bit ~ :)

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    This one was exploring one of my wren houses ~ the hole is supposed to be
    too small for sparrows, but they have chiseled away at it until they can now get in ~ :(

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    Hoping your day is especially beautiful ~ have a blessed Resurrection Day!
    "Fear not . . . ye are of more value than many sparrows."
    Luke 12:7
    Hallelujah!  He is risen! He is risen indeed!

April 3, 2015

  • Pileated Woodpeckers

    LL PW 1rcs

    This pair of pileated woodpeckers has been visiting my aunt's home nearly every day this spring.
    They can measure over 19" in length ~ enormous suet-eating birds
    which can peck humongous chunks out of fallen logs or rotting trees.
    They especially like to find carpenter ants in those dead trees.
    I think they look almost prehistoric ~ such a striking look about them.
    She gave me permission to share the photo which was taken by her husband.  Enjoy!

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    "The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad."
    Pslam 126:3

March 30, 2015

  • New Camera Tryout

    My camera ~ which I dearly loved ~ developed a "sensor debris" problem which could not be fixed ~ :(
    So, I'm experimenting with my new one here ~

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    This chap is looking for spring ~ hope it is just around the corner ~ :)

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    So, what do you think?  Will this camera do okay?

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    Since it is a different "brand" than I have had for my last three cameras,
    it is going to take a bit of "getting used to", but am hoping to figure it all out soon.
    Give me your opinion ~ :)
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    "Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth . . ."
    Isaiah 43:19

March 5, 2015

  • 3 Days with 2 Dears

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    A few weeks ago, we took my mother and her sister for a little getaway at Pokagon State Park;
    we stayed in the gorgeous Potawatomi Inn in northeastern Indiana ~ known for its popular toboggan run.

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    This painting in the inn portrays the entrance to the park.

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    ~ antique toboggan in the entry ~

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    So many of my photos taken in the dimly-lit inn were a tad blurry ~ :(

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    They still had a few Christmas displays here and there.

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    Some of the sculptures had me and my aunt drooling ~ gorgeous!
    She loves birds even more than I do, I think.

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    We loved this antler transformed into an eagle.

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    They have several old boat motors on display ~ Clayton was pleased to find one like his grandfather used to have.

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    For two days, we played endless games of Qwirkle, Michigan Rummy, 42 ~ and one mandatory game of Scrabble
    that I told them they had to play ~ just for my sake ~ I love that game, but the rest of them don't ~ ;)

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    A warm fire blazed in the lobby fireplace, night and day.

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    There must have been a dozen jigsaw puzzles strewn throughout the lobby
    and down the long, picture-windowed hallway ~ several people were enjoying them.

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    ~ loved this lobby window ~

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    ~ native American quotes ~

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    A window in our room looked out over the frozen Lake James.

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    The front lawn must be a beautiful place to sit in the summertime.

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    ~ that famous toboggan run ~
    The quarter-mile run features a drop of 90 feet over the length of the course;
    the rails are refrigerated and the thrilling ride down the run usually lasts less than one minute.

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    ~ fireplace in the dining hall ~

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    Now that is one giant eagle! ~ the carving stood in the corner of the dining hall.

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    Upside-down boats and canoes are hung from the dining hall ceiling.

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    ~ luscious breakfast buffet ~

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    Clayton and I walked downstairs to see what the pool area looked like;
    they also have a large game room down there with an air hockey game and a ping-pong table.

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    Caricatures on the wall were fun to see.

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    The squirrel station drew a lot of chuckling onlookers.

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    ~ white-breasted nuthatch ~
    Birdfeeders were really busy since the weather was so very cold and snowy.

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    We just really enjoyed gazing out at the frosty landscape while staying toasty warm inside the inn.

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    A few brave souls shoveled a place on the frozen lake to do a bit of ice skating.

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    Our lovely time away ended all too soon ~ Mother and her sister ~ ready to brave the cold again.

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    I think this place could quickly become a favorite for us ~ it was absolutely wonderful.
    The food, atmosphere, setting ~ everything was fabulous; we would like to enjoy it with our children sometime.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    "My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest."
    Exodus 33:14

March 2, 2015

  • Texas Trip ~ Take 6

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    Our last day on the island, we took one more very slow, long-drawn-out walk on the boardwalk
    at the convention center ~ we were slightly sad, as it was most likely the last time we will visit there.

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    ~ beautiful redhead ducks ~

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    ~ American wigeon ~

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    The ten roseate spoonbills were taking a nap.

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    But to cheer us up, the reddish egret was back on his perch . . .

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    . . . and in the brisk breeze, I must say, he was having a very bad hair day.

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    I could hardly stop photographing him ~ his windblown feathers just made me laugh!

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    Then we stopped at the beach restaurant to watch the waves one last time;
    a hungry willet searched for lunch in the frothy surf.

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    We shared a fish sandwich for lunch, had a fellow tourist snap our picture, then headed south to the bridge.

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    Farewell, South Padre ~ we will miss you!

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    After crossing the bridge, we stopped at a favorite ice cream parlor ~ yes, we were stalling, trying to stretch the sunny hours.

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    ~ giant fish sculpture in the harbor ~

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    Clayton nearly got nabbed ~ :D

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    On the drive back to Harlingen, we stopped at a roadside stand and bought some red grapefruit to take home.

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    We flew home the next day ~ a last view of south Texas.

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    When we got home, I turned this picture into wallpaper for my computer for those days when everything is going crazy.
    I shall long remember that silly reddish egret ~ he had personality plus ~ so hilarious!
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    "He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings
    shalt thou trust:  His truth shall be thy shield and buckler."
    Psalm 91:4

February 25, 2015

  • Texas Trip ~ Take 5

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    On the morning of January 31, I walked to the beach in the pre-dawn to catch the sunrise.

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    It turned out to be a glorious one!

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    I changed my camera setting to "sunset" for this shot ~ a whole different tone.

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    During the late morning, we walked the boardwalk at the convention center and watched the kite fliers
    who were having some kind of get-together, further on down the waterway.

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    We told our grandson that we found Nemo ~ :)

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    I enjoyed photographing this reddish egret ~ he had so much personality!

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    In this photo, he was giving the eye to an approaching great egret,
    which was planning to take over his spot in the reeds.

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    The great egret won the contest . . .

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    . . . and the reddish egret pouted.

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    ~ great blue heron ~

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    ~ willet ~

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    ~ little blue heron ~

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    ~ northern pintail and redhead ducks ~

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    ~ American coot and black-necked stilt ~

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    This is as close as I've ever been able to get to a black-necked stilt in the wild.

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    I had to be very patient to get a photo of it with its head out from beneath its wing;
    it only briefly looked out about once every 3 or 4 minutes.

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    We rested at the motel awhile, then walked the beach in late afternoon ~ needed a jacket that day,
    as the wind was brisk and it was decidedly cooler than the day before.

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    That evening, we crossed the bridge to eat at Pelican Station, with a window seat looking out over the bay.

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    I ordered fish and shrimp . . .

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    . . . . and Clayton had fish and oysters ~ and then we shared ~ so delicious!
    When we crossed back over the bridge, there were lights flashing,
    warning motorists to watch for pelicans flying across the bridge.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    "Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto thee.
    Hide not Thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble . . .
    I am like a pelican of the wilderness . . ."
    Psalm 102:1-2, 6

February 21, 2015

  • Texas Trip ~ Take 4

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    ~ sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico from our motel window ~ 1/30/2015 ~

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    Our motel's waffle-maker was quite the attraction.

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    After breakfast, we drove down to the birding center to enjoy the boardwalk out over the marsh.
    This great blue heron was enjoying the pool in front of the center.

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    A reader just pointed out something really unusual about this photo;
    the heron has his mouth open ~ I remember he was squawking quite loudly.
    But in the reflection, his mouth is closed!!??
    How on earth does that happen??
    (an optical engineer ~ friend of a friend ~ says it has to to do with the angles;
    the upper beak does not show in the reflection because of the angle, apparently)

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    I love the way they rest their chins on their long, curved necks ~ :)

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    ~ Queen butterfly ~

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    Anybody know what this bush is called?

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    ~ beginning of the boardwalk ~

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    ~ great egret fishing for breakfast ~

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    ~ Eurasian collared-dove ~

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    At first glance, I thought these were just mourning doves, like we have at home,
    but no, they are the Eurasian collared-doves ~ they are a nuisance at the birding center.

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    ~ common gallinule ~

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    ~ tri-colored heron ~

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    ~ red-eared slider ~

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    ~ great blue heron ~

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    ~ clapper rail ~
    They are so difficult to photograph, because they are not still for long
    as they weave in and out amongst the reeds along the shoreline.

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    The birds weren't exceeding plentiful that morning;
    someone told us there was a flock of roseate spoonbills
    very near the boardwalk over at the convention center,
    so we rushed over to see if they were still there.

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    Clayton stayed near the center, but I hurried out the walk
    and was fortunate to find 10 of them, just a few feet away from the walkway.

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    Ten minutes after I arrived, they began to lift off to fly to another location;
    I was disappointed, but felt very blessed to have gotten there in the nick of time.

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    ~ northern pintail ducks and a pair of American coots ~
    In Texas, the coots are called silver-billed gallinules, for some reason.

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    ~ reddish egret ~

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    ~ "blurry" black skimmers and seagulls ~
    I am disappointed this photo isn't sharp and clear ~ I just love the skimmers.

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    ~ tri-colored heron ~

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    ~ green heron ~

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    ~ sora ~
    These little birds are about the size of a quail ~ so hard to see amidst the reeds.
    I just love their little turned-up tails ~ reminds me of my favorite bird ~ the wren.
    Their yellow feet are huge, compared to their body size.

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    Back at the center, I found hubby catching a few winks ~ :)

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    After we left the center, we walked the beach for a short while only,
    as a cool wind was picking up and the sky was beginning to cloud over.

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    We did run on to the two men who had dug for the ghost shrimp bait the day before;
    they showed us their catch of whiting they had just caught, using those shrimp!

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    Every year, we look forward to eating fried oysters at Blackbeard's ~ our tasty lunch.

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    After sitting in the sun for an hour by the pool, while Clayton napped in our room,
    we returned to the birding center for a guided birding tour.
    A snowy egret, with its bright yellow feet, was fishing in the shallows.

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    ~ clapper rail ~


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    ~ little blue heron ~
    I really enjoy these very small herons ~ we don't see them very often.

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    ~ willets ~

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    ~ pied-billed grebe ~


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    ~ green heron ~

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    On this tour, our guide pointed out a marsh wren that was flitting through the tall reeds;
    it was a first sighting for me and I was thrilled to catch a glimpse of it,
    although it was impossible to get a photo ~ the guide said he had only been able
    to photograph one once in seven years, because they rarely sit still and are so quick.

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    We learned a lot on the tour ~ for example, our guide told us that sunning themselves helps an alligator to digest its food.
    I guess that's good to know ~ ?? ~ :)

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    That night, we ate fish and shrimp tacos at Captain Roy's;
    this prayer was on the wall and made us think of our sons ~ we knew how much they and their families
    would have enjoyed being on the island with us.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
    For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
    Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet . . .
    The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas."
    Psalm 8:4-6, 8

February 14, 2015

  • Texas Trip ~ Take 3

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    On the 29th, we made our way out to South Padre Island.

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    Since we arrived early, our room wasn't ready yet ~ we decided to drive down to the convention center
    for a walk on the boardwalk through the marsh, which lies between the intercoastal waterway and the Gulf of Mexico.

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    The center has some very interesting displays about the history of the island.
    The middle display tells of the Great Coyote Hunt/Round-Up in the early 1930's ~ quite the fascinating tale.

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    Our first bird sighting was this group of 10 roseate spoonbills and a couple white ibis.

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    Clayton spotted several fish swimming near the surface in one pool.

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    ~ common gallinule (moorhen) ~
    The birding area used to have a purple gallinule in residence, but last year, a visitor witnessed
    a great blue heron eating the poor thing ~ they haven't seen any of them in the marsh since then ~ :(

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    Out near the waterway, there were lots of birds.
    This snowy egret spent a lot of time preening its wispy white feathers.

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    Ya just gotta love those yellow boots! ~ :)

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    ~ great blue heron ~

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    ~ tri-colored heron ~

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    ~ American wigeons ~

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    ~ black skimmers ~
    They fly very close to the surface, trailing their bottom beak through the water to catch prey ~ so fun to watch.

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    We then drove northward on the island to a public access to watch the waves;
    however, it was such a perfect day, with almost no breeze at all, so the surf was pretty quiet.

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    We wanted to stop at this place last year, but it was entirely too cold then ~ they have all outdoor seating.
    We shared a fish sandwich and a pina colada ~ ahhhh ~ island life!

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    It was so enjoyable to just sit and watch the ocean and the gulls.

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    After we checked in, we walked down to the beach for awhile ~ just soaked up the warm weather ~ such bliss.

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    About a half-mile south on the beach, we ran across this series of intricate sandcastles;
    someone told us a class of school children had been there and built them in just a few hours.

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    We walked the beach for over an hour ~ we think it was about the prettiest day we have ever seen on South Padre;
    there was no wind, glorious sunshine, perfect temperature, warm water.
    It is a wonderful husband who agrees to carry his wife's sandals while she walks through the surf ~ :)

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    These two fellows were digging for ghost shrimp to use for bait;
    fishermen are allowed to collect no more than 20 in one day.

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    Ghost shrimp can burrow as deep as four feet and can survive up to 6 days without oxygen.
    Their burrows look like these little volcanos in the sand ~ this one was under water,
    but since the water was extremely clear, we could easily see it.

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    I did not take this picture ~ found it online.  Ghost shrimp are transparent
    and are actually more closely related to a crab than a shrimp.
    They are about 3-4 inches in length and are considered a protected species,
    since they are an important part of the food chain for migratory birds.

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    ~ such very clear water ~

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    A group of older folks was playing beach bocce ~ looked like a lot of fun.

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    We drove down to the south end of the island and didn't see much
    except this group of brown pelicans just bobbing around in the bay.

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    In all the years we have visited the island, we had never driven through the residential area;
    so that day we did ~ it looked like a lovely place to live ~ hey, honey, there's a place for sale! ~ :)

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    That night, we returned to one of our favorite restaurants;
    the entire restaurant sits atop a covered pier ~ it is
    only one aisle wide, and in wild weather, the waves literally rock your table!
    That happened to us last year ~ waves were hitting the windows beside us;
    but this year, it was totally calm and peaceful.

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    Fish are painted on the floor and metal fish adorn the walls.

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    We had a clear view from our window of the bridge to the island.

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    The servings were huge ~ we forgot to share and neither of us could finish our meal ~ :(

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    ~ beginning of sunset ~

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    I walked out the back of the restaurant, on down the pier a ways to capture the sunset;
    there were lots of things in the way ~ this is the best shot I could get.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    "Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength . . ."
    Isaiah 41:1