Friday, January 28, 2005

We have been following roads as close to the Gulf of Mexico as possible, and much of our route has been marked as an official "bird watching route." The Great Louisiana Bird Watching Trail, the Texas Bird Route, or some such designation. We've also seen signs for the Texas Tropical Trail, Florida Cracker History Route, and WARNING! THIS DIRECTION IS NOT A HURRICANE EVACUATION ROUTE! Somewhere, your tax dollars are paying some state bureaucrat to make up these designations...

From our rooftop deck this afternoon, I saw quite a number of birds that were new to me. I was able to identify a vermilion flycatcher, a black-crested titmouse, and a northern cardinal. Far off in the distance was a bird with bright yellow chest and a black throat that I think was a type of oriole, but the bird sat still for such a long time in the same position that I couldn't see any more of it for identification. Probably real bird watchers see these all the time, but I'm a rank amateur and just like having a few new names and feathers to put together in my mind.

Along the shore were a great blue heron and a great egret, which we've seen all over the gulf coast. While they are common, they are always wonderful to see in their graceful legginess. While we were at South Padre Island, I was able to get within 20 feet of a great blue. It was busy stalking a fisherman's bait bucket and ignored me.

A few days ago, we saw three bright pink flamingoes in flight. I had seen pale pink flamingoes in Hawaii, and hot pink plastic ones in suburban front lawns, but never such lurid plumage on living birds.

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