|Huge Number of Birds on Texas Gulf Coast
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In the morning of January 25, 2015, we took the 15-minute free big Galveston-Bolivar ferry to go from
northeastern end of Galveston Island to southwest end of Bolivar Peninsula along the Gulf of Mexico on Texas
coast. This free ferry is big and carries not only many passengers, but also many cars, buses and trucks. As
bird watchers, we were happily surprised by huge number of noisy seagulls swarming over our heads and
following our ferry in a feeding frenzy. It was a fantastic and exciting experience for bird watchers.
Huge number of seagulls following the huge wakes behind the big and powerful ferry.
Some more experienced people said that in warmer seasons, they see not only many gulls, but also many
pelicans. Furthermore, some playful dolphins are jumping and playing with the powerful turbulence and wakes
behind the big ferry.
There are two factors that are driving such frenzy behavior of huge number of gulls around and behind the big
ferry: (1) some passengers on the ferry are enjoying feeding these birds by throwing some foods (may be
French Fries) up into the air for those birds to catch in the mid air, and (2) the powerful turbulent wakes behind
the ferry stir up many fish to the surface and these surfaced fish become easy targets for these birds to catch
as shown in the following pictures.
These two pictures show that this man with baby on his right arm is using his left hand to through food up into
the air for the birds to catch. His right hand under the baby is holding some more food.
This baby has food on his raised left hand waiting for gulls to get the food from his hand.
There were also several other passengers on the ferry enjoying feeding the birds. They had a bag of food on
one hand and were throwing food up into the air with the other hand as shown on the following picture.
This is one of many gulls getting the foods in mid air.
In this picture, another gull got the food in the mid air.
The Sport Mode of my camera is very useful and helpful to catch such action photos. In Sport Mode, the
camera focuses very fast, and as long as the shutter release button is pressed down and is kept down, the
camera keeps on taking several shots in every second of ongoing actions, until I release the button.
In this picture, a piece of food is going up in the air among the gulls.
The powerful turbulence behind the big ferry.
Some gulls dived down to the surface of the turbulent wake behind the ferry to catch fish.
Some gulls are on the surface of the powerful and turbulent wakes behind the ferry to catch fish.
The ferry operation consists of five boats, each of which can carry approximately 70 vehicles, 500 passengers
and six crew members. Each ferry is capable of carrying eight 18-wheel trucks weighing 80,000 pounds each.
This gave me opportunities to take pictures of not only frenzy bird activities near our ferry, but also near other
ferries. On late afternoon near sunset time of January 27, 2015, we took the free ferry ride in opposite
direction from Bolivar Peninsula to Galveston Island.
A side view of the ferry at the ferry terminal of Bolivar Peninsula.
One of two or three beautiful roseate spoonbills that we saw in Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). We
toured this NWR twice, once in the afternoon of January 25, 2015 and the second time in the morning of
January 27, 2015.
There were two or three other occasions at other locations in this 13-day tour of Texas Gulf Coast that I saw
a roseate spoonbill flew by quickly, but I was busy driving and did not get a chance to take pictures.
For example, some roseate spoonbills show up in Arthur Storey Park （at 7400 West Sam Houston Parkway
South, Houston, TX 77072) in Chinatown in Houston as shown on the following two websites:
Map 2: Click here for interactive Google Map showing location of Anahuac NWR
Map 3: Click here for detailed Park Map of Anahuac NWR
The main entrance of Anahuac NWR is at 4318 FM (Farm Market Road) #1985, Anahuac, TX 77514. It is
about 70 miles east of Houston. FM 1985 is also known as Whites Ranch Rd. The main entrance is on FM
1985 and is about 4 miles east of the junction of FM 1985 and FM 562 and about 11 miles west of the
junction of FM 1985 and TX 124.
This NWR provides a paved road entrance and approximately two and a half mile paved one-way auto tour
loop around Shoveler Pond for wildlife viewing.
Note: There is a second entrance into Anahuac NWR. This second entrance is also on FM 1985 and is about
7 miles east of the main entrance. This second entrance with a road goes into a limited area of Anahuac
NWR known as East Bay Bayou Tract or Skillern Tract. However, the road from this second entrance is NOT
connected to those from the main entrance. So, if you want to tour the main portion of Anahuac NWR, make
sure that you go in from the main entrance. Do not confuse these two entrances.
In Anahuac NWR, we saw many snow geese flying in the sky.
One group of snow geese was on the wetland marked as White Fronted Moist Soil Units on the Map 3 above.
So, we drove to the unpaved Cross Road to get closer to this group of snow geese so that my compact
super-zoom camera could zoom in to get some good pictures of the snow geese.
Moist soil units are a management tool that provides a critical part of the diet of wintering and migrating
waterfowl. Seeds and plant parts (leaves, roots, and tubers) found here provide energy and essential nutrients
for wintering waterfowl. They also support abundant and diverse populations of invertebrates, including insects
- an important protein source for waterfowl. They are important for wildlife and make for great wildlife
watching. During the winter months large concentrations of waterfowl can often be found feeding here.
From the Cross Road, I reduced the zoom of my camera to cover larger area of snow geese activities. We
were happy to find this group not too far from the Cross Road.
But on the auto tour loop road, we saw and heard the sound of another much larger group of snow geese very
far away in a different direction (northwest) as shown in these two pictures. Even my compact super-zoom
camera with 65X optical zoom is still not powerful enough to get good and clear pictures of that huge group.
We asked the NWR ranger and other birders in the NWR to see if there is any road to get closer to that huge
group of snow geese. The answer is No. Those snow geese know how to choose a location very far from any
road in the NWR.
(We tried by driving along FM 1985 and along FM 562 along northwest boundaries of Anahuac NWR. But no
luck and did not get close to that huge group of snow geese.)
That group of snow geese is so far away and so huge that they look just like a very long white line on the
horizon in this picture. These snow geese are migratory bird and winter in this NWR. In spring season, they
leave here and migrate north to arctic tundra. We were happy to see them in this NWR during this winter
However, sometimes if a bald eagle comes to harass and to stir up the entire huge group of 20,000 or more of
snow geese to lift up and soar into the air at the same time, it then becomes the most memorable experience
of spectacular and very noisy air show as shown in the following YouTube movie:
We have also seen the spectacular views of tens of thousands of snow geese in action in Delaware, New
Jersey and Pennsylvania as shown on my web pages at:
We also saw many white ibises in this NWR.
A flock of white ibises in the air.
One of several snowy egrets in this NWR are shaking their feet in the muddy water to probe for and to stir up
fish. When a fish is disturbed and tries to swim away, the egret uses its long bill to catch the fish. I took a
movie clip of this snowy egret in such action as shown in the following YouTube website:
Duck and black-necked stilts.
One of many American Coots on the water. This is commonly seen in many national wildlife refuges all over
Many birds in the air.
On the afternoon of January 26, 2015, we came to Sea Rim State Park for bird watching on this (0.75-mile
one way) long marsh boardwalk, known as Gambusia Nature Trail, over a large wetland. This State Park is
located at 19335 S. Gulfway Drive, (i.e., TX 87), Sabine Pass, TX 77655, Phone (409) 971-2559. It is 10
miles west of Sabine Pass on the northeast coast of Texas.
One of many white ibises seen in this state park.
A frock of white ibises busily foraging at the edge of marsh by poking their long and curvy bills deep into the
mud. I took a movie clip of the foraging behavior of this flock of white ibises as shown in the following YouTube
天上人間任你來去, 展翅高飛， 揚長而去。
This one seems to be Anhinga.
Many ducks in the air.
This egret just landed.
An egret in the air.
Some big birds or wild animals are eating blue crabs on the boardwalk and leave the shell and the craw of the
crab on the boardwalk. There are several sets of such shells and craws left on the long boardwalk.
A view of the large wetland area in Anahuac NWR.
Two American Coots out of water on the boardwalk.
One of many kinds of birds seen in this State Park.
Many white ibises in the air and on the ground in this State Park.
This looks like a falcon eating its catch on the tree.
How I use information age technologies to enhance my enjoyment greatly of sightseeing large driving tour loop
of thousands of miles and of one to two weeks in duration covering many Points of Interest is described on my
web page at: