Waterside Supper with Riparian Entertainments
(With thanks to Hyacinth Bucket and her memorable announcements.)
(Strictly speaking, some of these are “Marine Entertainments” rather than “Riparian.” )
On Christmas Day, my husband and I went birding on the Texas City Dike, which goes 5 miles out into Galveston Bay, and then around to some of the surrounding parks. It was a wonderful day, cool and breezy. I would gladly do this every year!
There were a lot of terns sitting on the edge of the dike, and far out in the bay we could just barely see more hovering and diving for fish. Most of the terns we saw were Forster’s Terns, but there were a few Royal Terns too. We saw this one fly up with its catch, and take its time to swallow it completely.
As this Brown Pelican flew by I decided to snap some pictures, even though I see these birds quite often. I didn’t notice the tern racing it, or the cormorants following the action, until I saw the pictures on the computer.
The other birds are a Forster’s Tern and three Neotropic Cormorants.
After being out in the salt waters of the bay, we also drove around on the mainland, stopping at some lagoons and ponds. We saw lots of ducks, and I enjoyed watching this line of Spoonbills and Snowy Egrets advance through the water methodically.
Roseate Spoonbills are at home in fresh, brackish, and salt water. They eat small creatures by opening their spatulate bills part way, and then sweeping them from side to side, sifting through the mud. They are capable of visually detecting shellfish and invertebrates too, and will sometimes eat aquatic plants.
Snowy Egrets have diverse feeding habits. They can stand quietly and wait, like Great Egrets, or run around and actively pursue food, like Reddish Egrets. Here they are accompanying the Spoonbills, to pick up prey flushed up by all the activity. (This information is from The Behavior of Texas Birds by Kent Rylander.)