It has been a whirlwind of birding since the start of the new year. When it comes to our Average Year efforts (link here), the most exhilarating birding is at the the start – when the counter resets to zero, everything you see with wings means a +1 for the year. Yeah, a Northern Cardinal – check – wow a Carolina Chickadee – check – is that a Grackle, why yes it is – check – IS THAT REALLY A Robin, color me thrilled – check, check, check and on and on. Ron was able to meet us down her for a week to get his year started off on the right foot as well. To be honest, if you miss the border birds, you are probably in a deep hole with tall slick sides. I am still trying to get caught up, but as of January 7th Ron is at 87 and my counter sits at 108. For those keeping track that is over 1/3rd of last year’s total. Ron had to get back home today (of all days, one where the FAA grounded all flights). We have several weeks before we start heading home which will allow me to pad my lead… oops, I mean turn my attention to other creatures…
Hit the jump to see a few more shots from the Gulf waters.
Taking a quick break from the winged ones. These tins come courtesy of fishermen (and a growing number of fisherwomen) that we encountered during last year’s trip to the Gulf, specifically the Robert’s Point Park area and the public beach in Port Aransas. Need to immediately put this out there before we proceed any further in this post – my entire water creature ID knowledge is based on the following taxonomy: for the big stuff – Dolphin, Stingray, Turtle, other and for the fishies, Catfish and then “not a Catfish” bucket. This rudimentary decision tree doesn’t prevent me from getting excited whenever I see someone with a bent fishing pole. Wait.. just remembered, I also know what a Clown Fish looks like entirely thanks to the popular movie. Can’t even imagine what the shock looked like on my face when this creature was yanked out of the Robert’s Point channel.
Immediately caught Ron’s attention and pointed out the green-eyed spiky blob now sitting on the cement walkway. Definitely not a Dolphin, no wings like a Stingray, possibly a Turtle that was yanked out of its shell when the hook was set .. eh, seems to have fins. DEFINITELY not a Clown Fish or a Catfish. Asked the individual on the other end of the line if I could take a picture and then quickly asked “What the hell is THAT!?!”. My water taxonomy just grew by one thanks to the “Puffer” response. Note, there was a tone of disgust with that response. Apparently, these things are still a bit dangerous purely based on the care being taken to keep appendages away while using a pliers to remove the hook. Once freed from the line, the Puffer was released back into the canal.
I thought that was going to be the highlight of the day until we headed over to the Port Aransas beach area and witnessed THIS!
Turned to Ron and Linda to get confirmation I was not seeing things – “That is not a Dolphin, a Stingray or a Turtle right?”. Initially thrown by the weird nose, the fin sticking out of its back reminded me I left off an entry on my highly detailed taxonomy list…the Shark. Outside of a few movies, an alcohol influenced decision to watch Sharknado and a few “never go in the water again” episodes during Shark Week, these sleek death dealers remain a mystery. Without question, this is the first encounter on a public beach.
Missed all the effort it must have taken to land this beast. Catfish will put a mighty bend in a pole – this silver surfer probably put up a hell of a fight. Would have been interesting to see how you de-hook a shark – missed it thanks to being intrigued by something that fell of the shark as they were dragging it across the beach.
Was able to get a good view of the now detached suckie thing with The Beast. “Oh hell no”. Linda hates Snakes, hates Lizards as they are “Snakes with legs” and now we have a Snake with FINS. She is never going to go back in the water if she sees this.. quick, distract her with a pretty brown Pelican. The two who made the catch must have seen it fall off as well – now walking towards it. Yikes, the lady just took off her shoe and handed it to her companion. Thankfully, the first assessment was incorrect.
No clubbing today, the shoe was just the most convenient way to nudge it without physically touching it. Definitely still alive. Trying to push it towards the water was completely ineffective as it was surprisingly “squishy”.
Eventually the lady gave up, reached down, grabbed it by the tail and returned it to the choppy waters. Kudos to Ron who knew what this thing was – a Remora or more commonly referred to as Sharksuckers. Another add to my ever growing ID knowledge.
Somehow in all this excitement, I missed the release of the Shark, only catching a glimpse of the shark as it was being gingerly released into the oncoming waves capping off a fun day with fins.
Hope you enjoyed this quick diversion from the wet realm. Need to put a wrap on this post as tomorrow starts out early with another attempt for a rarity – wish me luck. Apologies again for all the comments and other blogs I’ve fallen way behind on – promise I will catch up as soon as the birding slows down…or it rains ha. Take care everyone.