Borrego Springs, CA

Friday, January 1, 2010

A good start to the New Year.

The massive fog, that dominated the day yesterday, dissipated overnight, and by ten o'clock this morning the sun was shining. Even though it's a holiday, and I have the day off, I decided I had to take advantage of the sunny weather. I got the van packed and headed out to do the salinity tests and the bird survey around Shoveler Pond.

It was a little nippy out and the wind was out of the north, but only at about 15 mph. The cows had pretty well packed down the mud at the first stop, so slipping and sliding through it was a little easier this week. As I sloshed my way back to the van, I kicked up a rail running through the marsh. As I did the bay side testing, I noticed a movement out of the corner of my eye.

A clapper rail was working the shallow bayou waters just before they entered Galveston Bay. Of course, I didn't have my camera with me; it was in the van about 100 yards away. I did watch the rail from a distance of about four feet for a while, and then headed back to get the camera. He didn't seem too skittish, so I thought I might have a chance for a picture.

As I was getting the camera together on the mono pod, wouldn't you know a big noisy diesel pickup truck went past me and stopped right at the culvert where the rail was. It sat there several minutes before moving on. I figured that I had missed my chance, but walked over anyway.

It turns out the Clapper rail was hiding in the culvert, and after a few minutes came back out to continue looking for tasty morsels in the mud and shallow water of the bayou. Rails are generally pretty secretive, so I felt very lucky to have this one pose for me. :) What marvelous feather coloring on its lower belly. Kind of looks like ripples in the water to me. Those long wide-spread toes give it stability in the mud and marsh. Rails can even walk across lily pads because of those toes.

Driving back to the RV pads in the afternoon, I did some reminiscing about the past year. I volunteered at four different National Wildlife Refuges, visited numerous state parks, national parks, and monuments, and spent time visiting all of my kids. What a wonderful time I had last year. After three and a half years of fulltiming, I still have no regrets and have no plans to quit any time soon! I hope all of you have had a good year too, and wish you the same for the New Year.

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

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