All about Hoofbeats & Footprints

The Avocets

One of the reasons why I wanted to travel to Galveston Island was due to a fellow blogger Tim Timmis a Texan local who always shares wonderful captures of shorebirds from the Bolivar Salt Flats. Bolivar Peninsula is just north of Galveston Island and is accessed by a free ferry from Galveston which also is an adventure on its own.

Registering for one of Tim’s ground-pod photography outings during the Galveston Featherfest was something I was looking forward to. Not only do I get to enjoy wonderful shorebirds, but I finally get to meet Tim in person. Taking the 6:00 a.m. ferry across to Bolivar, the group met and drove together to the beach. I tell you, it’s always exciting being able to drive on a beach and this one was great and nicely hard packed. No getting stuck in the soft sands like in Florida.

Add to the thrill there was a group of camping horse people with horses in corrals. Right up my alley ! Horses and birds all in one place, but I was not to be distracted. To be prepared for laying down on the wet sands of the salt flats I knew it was time to add waterproof waders to my large collection of outdoor wear. Not sure what to get I decided to go with an inexpensive pair of Froggtoggs Women’s Waders. They didn’t break the bank like some of the others I’ve been looking at so they get me in the game. One thing I didn’t think through well enough was the proper footwear to go with the waders as the neoprene stocking feet were too big for my feet and didn’t fit into my bulky mud boots that I packed with me. So I went ‘barefoot’ in my stocking feet and was just fine with the waterproofing.

The weather had been bad all week with dreary days, air filled with sea mist, winds blustering about and unusually high water levels. The ocean had been angry that week with lots of white-caps. But sometimes when you get lemons, you’ve got to make lemonade. As what happened is that these weather conditions messed up the Avocet’s usual hang out spots and lo-and-behold there were thousands, and I mean thousands of Avocets on the beach. The locals told me that it was quite unusual and they were astounded.

We finally got into position with all of us lying on the sand waiting for the dreary light to improve. Tim captured some wonderful blurs of the Avocets, for me I knew I was looking for something different. We had arrived to the beach around 7:00 a.m. and the outing was scheduled to end by 10:00 a.m. For planning that meant that people were supposed to be back at the Featherfest headquarters by 10:00 a.m. so the actual time on the beach was less than two hours. Certainly not nearly enough time for me especially when you’ve got thousands of Avocets in front of me.

While I laid there I noticed the younger ones were all white with black markings.

And so the others left, and I stayed with the flock all to myself. And then the sun begun to shine. I was able to crawl closer to the flock and saw that they had a minimum viewing distance that they required. Some birds I respected that. And then gloriously they decided to take flight.

It was truly a special morning for me and one I’ll always remember. Knowing I had to return back to Galveston I slowly left the beach, enjoying the endless view of Avocets along the beach. That back line at the top of the frame? Yeah, that’s all birds too!

16 replies »

  1. Those bills, so delicately curved! I love how you write Emily, you take your reader right down in the sand with you, thank you for the adventure and sharing those amazing pictures. How good it is to live in a world with such beauty.

    • You are also so kind and complimentary Terri. I wish I had more energy at night when I put these together. But at least they get out. 🙂 Means everything that you enjoyed this experience with me. Big hugs!

  2. Awesome photos Emily. It was great to finally meet you. Thanks again for coming to Galveston’s FeatherFest. We hit the jackpot with avocets that day for sure. I’ve been back a couple of times and haven’t seen that many since then.

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