Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Number 61: Galveston Island State Park

Recently we took advantage of some vacation time to check out a park we had not been to before.  Number 61 for us was Galveston Island State Park.  No park sign picture this time because as we were heading into the park I spotted this guy and was distracted.

Cattle Egret
Check out his intensity.


The park spans FM3090 on the ocean side and bay side of the island.  We did all our hiking on the bay side hoping to see some birds.  We were not disappointed.  I learned a lesson though.  Taking pictures through the window of a car yields blurry pictures unless you turn the car off.  You can see what I mean in the photo below.   Argh.  Lesson learned.

White Ibis and Laughing Gull
Fortunately for my photography we did park the car and hike so many of my pictures turned out clear.  First we set out from the parking lot to an observation deck that looked out over the marshes.


Great Egret
Great Blue Heron
The land is flat at sea level and there are no tall trees to obstruct your view.  We hit the trail and were immediately rewarded with island beauty.

Buckeye


The trails are a mix of dirt and sand with bridges connecting some of the marshy areas.  We got a very clear view of a pair of Roseate Spoonbills, Breck's favorite bird, from the first bridge.



These Neotropic Cormorants let us get really close on the second bridge before deciding enough was enough and they flew away.

Neotropic Cormorant
Neotropic Cormorant pair
The terns were pretty active at the bridge as well, plunging into the water for fish.  Their hunting habits are fun to watch.

Common Tern
I know I'm heavily relying on my bird pictures for this post, but I couldn't help it.  There were so many birds and I was in a honeymoon period with my new 400mm lens.

Red-winged Blackbird
Willet
The trails were easily followed and many of the birds we spotted ran right out in front of us.

Wilson's Plover
We headed down this trail at the end of the afternoon hoping to spot some American Oyster Catchers.  



It was not the prettiest of the trails and we didn't see a single bird until this.  It's an Osprey albeit blurry.  However keep in mind I was more than a football field away from this guy, in the wind, with no tripod, and camera I was not yet familiar with.  All that though does not change the fact I SAW AN OSPREY!  Check that off my Life List.


There are places to launch a kayak in the park to ride through the marshes.  Next time.  We did check out the launch for future reference and spotted these guys hanging out.  These are also blurry, but it had been a long day at this point and the wind was still a major factor as was my ability to navigate the settings.  I kept switching my focus from the bird to the grasses around them.  And I really need to get a good tripod.

Black-necked Stilt
This shot would have been awesome if I had the focus correctly places.  Such beauties.

Tricolored Heron
Redhead (ducks)
But you get the idea.  There is a lot to see in this park of which I have only shared a small part.  If I go back again with the kayaks I'll be sure to let you know.

* If you saw my last post Every Picture Tells A Story I want to tell you that I visited GISP first.  I learned from many of my focus mistakes I made here which helped me get the clear Yellow-crowned Night-Heron pictures.