Tuesday, April 11, 2017

With a Little Help from my Friends

Iceland Gull
I've been nursing a tire that was loosing air for a week and I had a 1 pm appointment to get it fixed. A front was passing through with what seemed like good timing to ground some migrants so I took my backpack with me to go look for migrants at Quintana when it was fixed. It would only take 15 minutes or so right?

All was going well. My car was in the bay by 1:15, I should be out of here by 1:30 I thought to myself. Then a text message came in from Julie Ann Brown, Executive Director of the Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council, Kevin Karlson wanted her to pass on to me that he had just found an Iceland Gull at the Bolivar Flats. Awesome I can be on my way in about 15 minutes I thought.

Rain on the Galveston
Right as I was thinking it should be ready, the tech came and found me to show me how the tire couldn't be patched, the hole was too close to the sidewall. I picked a tire out to replace it and they promised to expedite it since I had a bird to see. It began to pour, like inch an hour rain. I began to worry about how drivable the beach would be.

Finally after what seemed like an eternity of waiting I was off. It was still raining buckets. Rain on the causeway, rain as I boarded the ferry.

I checked weather as the ferry made 12 mph across the Bolivar Road according to my GPS. It was raining lighter now and it looked like most has moved off shore.

American Avocets on the beach
The beach was ok to drive on. I guess the weather had the birds all bunched up, everything was along the beach including numbers of very snazzy looking American Avocets.

At the flats itself I just took my scope and binos, no phone, no camera since it was still raining lightly. I had to walk out a pretty good ways before I found any gulls. Then there it was, a snow white second cycle Iceland Gull for Year Bird 377. I studied it and made notes with the scope for a TBRC report.

Crud though, it really was close enough for a picture. I headed back to the car to get the camera going over what I had with me to protect the camera. All I could come up with was the wrapper for the case of water I had in the back, it would have to do.

The plastic covered the camera well enough. When I made it back out to the bird I got a few shots pulling the plastic back. I decided to move closer. I let loose of the plastic and then the wind took it. I gave chase but it got away from me, I felt very guilty for that. To make up for it I pick up as much trash as I could on the way back to the car, hoping a net loss of trash would balance the karma.

I wasn't able to get very close to the bird though because of a tongue of water between us. Every bird in the group seemed calm. Oh well, it was warm enough and my shoes would dry and I headed across. Eventually making it calf deep and getting some decent shots while the birds ignored the wet footed dodo with the camera. As I emerged from the water it dawned on me that my rubber boots were in the car.

My phone was loaded with messages when I got back to the car. All told five people had contacted me to let me know about the bird. Friends like this is what it takes for a Big Year!


  1. Great find, and yes, you have some great folks helping. Glad to see you making such great progress.

  2. Fun report! Congratulations! Sure appreciated the trip you led for Featherfest, and seminar on iPhone birding apps. Enjoyed both! Larkwire has been downloaded. With thanks to it....and you.....might get a few more warblers-by-ear down in time for their arrival. Here's to a very Big Year! Keep these entertaining and interesting blog reports coming! Sara B.