Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Coastal Bama Birding

Post by Henry

Since we’ve been here in southern Alabama, we’ve been doing a good bit of birding.  This is the time of year when the birds are migrating back North after spending the winter in Central America.  Amazingly, these birds fly nonstop across the Gulf of Mexico and when they get here they are hungry and exhausted and they stop at the first sight of land.  Fort Morgan and Dauphin Island, located on the Gulf, and Mobile Bay, near here, are some of the places they like to stop.

Fort Morgan

We’ve made several trips to Fort Morgan over the last couple of weeks and I believe we can say we may have seen more ‘birders’ than birds.  Yep, it’s been pretty slow.

One day we broke up the birding non-action and went for a bike ride at Gulf State Park.  They have a quite nice network of trails there that twist and wind through the forest of the park. 

Trail in Gulf Shores State Park

It was a very relaxing ride and you feel worlds away from the crush of condos, hotels, restaurants and bars of Orange Beach located just a few hundred yards away.

Picnic Pavilion and Butterfly Garden
Bottle Brush Bush in Butterfly Garden

Another day we took our bikes on the ferry across Mobile Bay from Fort Morgan to Dauphin Island.  

In Line to Board Ferry to Dauphin Island

Our good friends Ken, Trisha, Marshall and Donna were spending the week there in a beach house.  Unlike Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, Dauphin Island is very laid back, with a few Mom and Pop motels, rental beach homes, and private residences.  It was a four (4) mile ride along a mostly shaded bike trail from the ferry to where our friends were staying.  We spent the day with them catching up, eating lunch and then, of course, some birding.  First, we strolled the west end of the beach to some tide pools where we saw a good variety of shore birds. 


Deserted Dauphin Island Beach

We also saw quite a few sting rays in the water along our walk. 

Yes - there is a Sting Ray in there

Later on the other end of the island in our last hour before catching the ferry back, we were fortunate to catch a view of a few REAL BIRDS! !  A Prothonotary Warbler, Summer Tanager, 

Summer Tanager

Louisiana Waterthrush, White Eyed Vireo, Eastern Kingbird,

Eastern Kingbird

and Orchard Orioles.  FINALLY!

All too soon, though, it was time to catch the ferry back to Fort Morgan and say goodbye to our friends.

Trisha, Ken, Marshall and Donna

It was good to see them and there’s a good chance we may rendezvous with them this summer in Colorado.
On the ferry ride, we were excited that we had finally seen some of the birds we’d been looking for and were hopeful when the ferry docked at Fort Morgan we’d see a few more.

Nope.  A big zero.  ***sigh***  Maybe soon?  Hopefully.

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