Friday, June 27, 2014

Number 43: Sea Rim State Park

Sea Rim State Park in Sabine Pass has quite the story to tell.  After taking hits from Hurricane Rita in 2005 and Ike in 2008, most of the park's facilities were destroyed (including the bathrooms and visitor's center).  Though improvements have been made, there is a long road still ahead.

One problem with the park unrelated to the hurricanes is the large amount of seaweed that washes up on shore.  It stretches the entire length of the beach making it difficult to reach the water.

And it's not just seaweed that litters the beach: milk jugs, bottles, umbrellas, chairs, and the list goes on.

That said, we weren't there for a dip in the Gulf.

Brown Pelicans
Unfortunately, this was a spur of the moment, unplanned trip and I had to resort to iPhone photos having left my camera at home or my photos of the Brown Pelicans would be amazing!  They are gorgeous birds.

Great Egret
We had the place to ourselves.  Though new picnic tables, grills, and roads had been added to the park, nobody was using them.

We left the beach to walk a 3/4 mile boardwalk trail over the marsh.

It didn't seem to be well maintained with many boards warped and cracked and grass growing up through it.

We did see lots of crabs and fish on our walk.

And a Green Heron was a nice treat as it hopped along in front of us on the boardwalk hunting for lunch.

We didn't see any alligators, though I'm sure they were there, but we did see lots of birds:  stilts, kites, ducks, sandpipers, bittern, and grebe.  Many of these I could now name thanks to the education Breck and I received from the rangers at Estero Llano Grande State Park.

Much of the park was disappointing, and I dare say we will not make the long drive to visit again.  That said, it has faced harsh challenges and is fighting it's way back.  Hopefully it can become a place people want to flock to in the future.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Number 42: Estero Llano Grande State Park

It seems like stalling, and I admit, it is.  Though we visited our park number 42 weeks ago I am just now finishing the post.  Why so long to tell you all about Estero Llano Grande State Park?  The birds.

Altamira Oriole
The birds!  We documented 57 different species of birds on our walk through this park with two wonderful Rangers and a couple very knowledgeable birders.

They spotted birds that I would have walked by without noticing.

American Avocet
The problem came when I got home from the park, downloaded all my photos, and began the process of labeling what we saw.

Buff-Bellied Hummingbird
I didn't catch all 55 birds on camera, and not every shot was as clear as I would have liked, but what I did have took a lot time.  Thus, the stalling began.

Indigo Bunting
There were so many!  And I know so little.

White-Rumped Sandpiper
And to further complicate things (going back to the barely a novice thing) so many of the birds look alike.

Stilt Sandpiper and Pectoral Sandpiper
But over time, with the help of the park through Facebook and other bird enthusiasts at work, I have been able to sort my pictures to share.

Our experience at number 42 might make this my favorite park: but at the very least, it's one of my best experiences at one.

Green Heron; look closely
It doesn't have the breath-taking canyons like Palo Duro or amazing fall color like Lost Maples, but what it did have was spectacular and I can't wait to go back in another season and see more.  I am especially interested in the ducks next winter.

Fulvous Whistling Duck
If you go, please take the bird walk tour.  It's the best of what the park has to offer.