A Little Southwest of Ohio, part 1 of 3

Recently we took a road trip to the American southwest, visiting places such as Tucson, Arizona, Big Bend National Park in Texas, and Goose Island State Park near Corpus Christi, also in Texas. This post is about things seen at Goose Island State Park and the adjacent Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.

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Given the amount of hiking we thought we’d be doing all pictures were shot with either a Panasonic FZ200 or a Canon SX40. While the additional reach of the Canon would seem to be an advantage, in real life shooting the FZ200 more consistently produced sharper more usable images even when digitally enlarged to compensate for the shorter zoom.

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We highly recommend the Goose Island State Park area if you enjoy birding and nature. The diversity of birds, even during non-migration periods, is wonderful. Also, we had the opportunity to run into old acquaintances as will as to make a number of new friends as we pursued our passion for nature. Good stuff!

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Below are pics of just some of the things seen. Hope you enjoy glancing through them.

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Crested Caracara, many were seen along the road between Big Bend and Goose Island.

Common Loon IMG_5265

Common Loon in the gulf in winter plumage. Flightless till “spring” when new flight feathers come in for the migration north.

Common Loon IMG_5259

Common Loon

Chipping Sparrows P1010271

Chipping Sparrows playing hide and seek, Goose Island State Park

Carolina Wren IMG_5175

Carolina Wren, Goose Island State Park

Brown Pelican P1010236

Brown Pelican’s, Goose Island State Park.

Black-crested Titmouse P1010396

Black-crested Titmouse, Goose Island State Park

Black-bellied Plover IMG_5289

Black-bellied Plover, Goose Island State Park

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Below are some shots of the Wooping Cranes which have been brought back from the point of extinction. However, challenges remain. The recent dry years in Texas have caused increased salinity levels in the bays along the Gulf Coast which has resulted in a decrease in the Blue Crab one of their main food sources.

Wooping Crane IMG_5248-2

Wooping Crane near Goose Island state Park.

Wooping Crane IMG_5155

Wooping Cranes near Goose Island State Park

Willet IMG_5283

Willet, Goose Island State Park

White Pelican P1010217cfix

White Pelican, Goose Island State Park.

White Ibis IMG_5309

White Ibis, Goose Island state Park

Tricolor Heron P1010231

Tricolor Heron, Goose Island State Park.

Snowy Egret P1010225

Snowy Egret, Goose island State park.

Semipalmated Sandpiper IMG_5088

Semipalmated Sandpiper, Goose island State Park.

Savannah Sparrow IMG_5183

Savannah Sparrow, Goose Island State Park.

Sandhill Cranes IMG_5218

Sandhill Cranes near Goose Island State Park.

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At low tide, extensive mud flats are a great place to see shorebirds.

Sanderlings IMG_5078

Sanderlings, Aransas Natl Wildlife Refuge

Ruddy Turnstone P1010440

Ruddy Turnstone, Goose Island State Park.

Roseate Spoonbill IMG_5313

Roseate Spoonbill making good it’s escape, Goose Island State Park

Pied-billed Grebe IMG_5123

Pied-billed Grebe, Aransas Natl Wildlife Refuge.

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1000 year old Live Oak near goose Island State Park

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The Big Tree.

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Path through Live Oaks, Goose Island State Park.

Northern Pintail P1010477

Northern Pintails, Goose Island State Park.

Lincoln's Sparrow P1010284

Lincoln’s Sparrow, Goose Island State Park.

Ladder-backed Woodpeckers P1010298

Ladder-backed Woodpecker’s, Goose Island State Park.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker (female) P1010301

Female Ladder-backed, Goose island state Park.

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We saw a number of Killdeer, a common bird adjacent to the farm fields of Ohio.

Killdeer IMG_5281

Killdeer, Goose Island State Park

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Kestrals were very numerous along the roads in the area. Looking for insects and small rodents.

Kestral (male) P1010316

Kestral (male), near Goose Island state Park

Kestral (female) IMG_5090

Kestral (female), Aransas Natl Wildlife Refuge.

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A very small beautiful dove common to southern Texas.

Inca Dove P1010483

Inca Dove, Goose Island State park.

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Pier, Goose Island State Park, great spot for birding.

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A typical area to look for shore birds.

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Aransas Natl Wildlife Refuge.

Harris's Sparrow P1010498

Harris’s Sparrow (center), Goose Island State Park

Great Egret IMG_5042

Great Egret, Aransas Natl Wildlife Refuge.

Eurasian Collared Dove P1010490

Eurasian Collared Dove, Goose Island State Park.

Dunlin P1010421

Dunlin, Goose Island State Park.

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Thanks for looking in.

Lovers Key State Park, Florida

This will be the last post for a while that discusses a natural area other than one located in Ohio. The pictures are from a visit to Lovers Key State Park near Fort Meyers, Florida during a recent trip south to escape the winter cold in Ohio. Our visit consisted of a paddle in the Mangroves and then a walk along the beach to look for shells and whatever else there was to see.

We decided to paddle first hoping that, because it was earlier in the day, we might see more birds and other critters. We took advantage of a beautiful five mile “paddle only” trail within the park that provided views of herons and Ibises, however no Manatees were seen.

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Paddling in the Mangroves, Lovers Key State Park

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Little Blue Heron, Lovers Key State Park

The beach was also beautiful and turned out to be relatively unpopulated even though our visit was on the weekend. Shorebirds seemed to be very acclimated to people so a photograph didn’t require a long telephoto. When not being amused by the birds we did have some luck finding interesting shells.

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Beach at Lovers Key State Park

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The waves come in

We started seeing shorebirds almost immediately:

Willets playing in the waves 020814 Lovers Key beach cp1

Willets in the surf, beach at Lovers Key State Park (Donna)

Willet duo 020814 Lovers Key beach cp1

Willets paying no attention to us, beach at Lovers Key State Park (Donna)

sanderling 020814 lovers key beach cp1

A friendly Sanderling, beach at Lovers Key (Donna)

ruddy turnstone closer 020814 Lovers key beach cp1

Ruddy Turnstone, beach at Lovers Key State Park (Donna)

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Relaxing , beach at Lovers Key State Park

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Osprey nest near the beach, Lovers Key State Park

A beautiful day and a beautiful beach:

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The waves go out.

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Bicycles with blanket, beach at Lovers Key State Park

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Coral, beach at Lovers Key State Park

We returned to the frozen north to soon but given the birds and other wildlife that can be observed in this area of Florida, it could well become a yearly destination.

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