Thursday, February 25, 2010

More Whooping Crane Photos

More Whooping crane photos here

Orphan Train Presentation At Homestead National Monument

Last fall while passing through Concordia Kansas, I was looking for a spot to take a photo of this old granary.

I came across this building and ended up taking the above photo near this one.

The building was originally a Union Pacific train depot and is now the Orphan Train Museum. The museum wasn't open but the plaque on the grounds piqued my interest.

From the Orphan Train Museum site:
Between 1854 and 1929 an estimated 200,000 orphaned, abandoned, and homeless children were placed out during, what is known today as, the Orphan Train Movement. The name is derived from the children's situations, though they were not all orphans, and the mode of transportation used to move them across forty-seven states and Canada.

Homestead National Monument

...will host Orphan Train historian Charlotte Endorf and one of the few remaining Orphan Train Riders, Lela Newcombe on Sunday, March 7, 2010, at 2 p.m. at the Education Center. Charlotte Endorf is the author of Plains Bound: Fragile Cargo: Revealing Orphan Train Reality and By Train They Came. Abook signing will follow the program. The books are available for purchase at Homestead National Monument of America.

Beginning in 1854, charitable organizations in New York City began sending orphans on trains to the west to find new families. As the train made its stops the children were lined up on courthouse lawns to be examined by prospective families. Charlotte Endorf has extensively researched the phenomenon of clearing orphanages by sending children out west. She will tell the moving stories of the lives that changed forever by the Orphan Trains. Orphan Train Rider Lela Newcombe will tell her touching story as part of this program. Lela Newcombe discovered late in life that it was a paper mistake that landed her and her siblings on an orphan train. You’ll hear how her parents tried to find her, but were unable.

My present plans do not have me back in Nebraska in time to attend, and I am sorely disappointed that I won't be able to take advantage of the opportunity to attend this event.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Great Blue Heron

Here on the Texas coast, Great blue herons are almost as ubiquitous as the gulls.

I chuckled when I saw this Great blue heron. Gatekeeper or trespasser? You decide.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Whooping Cranes

I saw Whooping cranes today!

Cropped photo

Friday, February 19, 2010

Black Skimmers

I think these guys are kinda neat.

The second picture clearly shows the longer lower mandible. The next photo shows how skimmers forage. They fly low over the water, with the lower mandible in the water. When the skimmer senses a fish he snaps the his bill shut.

The wing span of the skimmer is 42 to 50 inches.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Terns of the Texas Coast

There are three terns commonly seen here during the winter months.

The first is the Royal tern. Photo taken at Port Aranasas

The second is the Forster's tern. Photo taken at Port Aransas

The Royal tern is twenty inches long and the Forster's is 14.5 inches long. The difference is size is apparent in this photo. Photo taken at Padre Island National Seashore

The third tern is the Caspian tern. Photo taken at Port Aransas

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Gulls of the Texas Coast

Gulls seem to be just about everywhere and since they are so common I thought I would do a post about them.

The largest of the gulls commonly seen is the Herring gull. I took this photo last year on Mustang Island.

Without a doubt the most common gull is the Laughing gull. Taken a couple of days ago on Mustang Island.

Then there's the Ring-billed gull. Also taken on Mustang Island a couple of days ago.

Not seen nearly so often, is the Bonaparte's gull. However, they do stand out in a group of gulls, because they are so much smaller. Taken on Mustang Island several days ago.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Homestead National Monument Request For Birders

It's raining on the coast of Texas today...

Homestead National Monument is looking for volunteers:

Homestead National Monument of America is looking for birders to help us with a monitoring project and special events. Homestead NM of America is a National Park Service site located four miles west of Beatrice on Nebraska State Hwy 4. The monument is just over 200 acres in size, 100 acres is restored tallgrass prairie, 60 acres riparian woodland with the rest located along Cub Creek.

The breeding bird monitoring will consist of visiting 48 points within the park and counting all the birds heard and seen for five minutes. It is estimated that it will take approximately 4-5 mornings to complete the yearly monitoring. The sampling will begin no sooner than the first full week of May and extend no later than the second full week of June. During sampling conducted in 2009 within the tallgrass prairie, 48 species were observed, Dickcissels were observed the most (748), followed by the Red-winged Blackbird (482), and the Common Yellowthroat (286).

I am also interested in volunteers who may be able to assist or join us for "Birds and Bagel" events held on Saturday, May 8 and June 5 and 7 a.m.

If you are interested in helping with the projects please contact me, Jesse Bolli, at or call me at 402-223-3514.

The monument's main page

I stopped by there earlier this year and took a few photos

Monday, February 8, 2010

Connie Hagar Wildlife Sancturary

Connie Hagar was a self taught birder that documented the birds of Rockport. She became renown in birding circles during her time. Amongst those she counted amongst her fans was none other than Roger Tory Peterson. In 1943 the Texas legislature designated a portion of the Rockport shore as the Connie Hagar Wildlife Sanctuary.

These photos of an American white pelican were taken there last Friday.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

U.S. Coast Guard Vessels

I was sitting next to the channel that separates Quintana and Seaside one afternoon last week. I kept hearing what sounded like a police radio in the distance. But I couldn't make out what was being said or figure out where it was coming from.

Then this Coast Guard cutter appeared

Then two Coast Guard Defenders appeared.

Defenders are 25 feet, powered by two Honda outboard motors, and are capable of speeds of 45 knots, or 85 mpg.

They can be mounted with M60 or M240 machine guns

They can turn on a dime

They were conducting an excercise and soon captured their prey

And then headed back to the nearby Coast Guard Station

Monday, February 1, 2010

Port Lavaca

I moved south on the Texas coast today. I was running way ahead of schedule and when I got to Port Lavaca I decided to take some time and see if I could see a bird or two. Last year I looked high and low for this bird. Never did find one. I drove onto a pier and looked at the Laughing gulls, the Herring gulls, and the grackles and then I saw them. There were two of them. Behold

American Oystercatcher