Category Archives: Photos-Landscapes

~Yellow-headed Blackbird~

Monday, June 30, 2014

Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

 

High above the marsh as we walk along the boardwalk toward the entrance to the bird refuge, tall reeds wave gently in the breeze below, showing off their summer colors. 

I can hear birds singing. As we stop to take in the surrounding beauty, I spot Barn Swallows performing their acrobatics, Dragonflies trying to stay out of their reach and these gorgeous Yellow-headed Blackbirds singing their welcome.

There are several and we are delighted. It has been many years since we have seen the Yellow-headed Blackbird. The brightly colored males are sitting among  the swaying reeds, showing off their handsomeness for us. 

The lovely female, with her muted patch of gold, is busy catching Dragonflies for her babies. We stand in awe watching these birds. Finally, the female becomes brave, perhaps knowing we are not a threat, and delivers her mouthful of bugs to her babies.

Down she goes into the reeds and out of sight. We can’t see the nest even though we try diligently to get a glimpse; they have done a masterful  job of hiding their nursery.

Yellow-headed Blackbird (male)
Yellow-headed Blackbird
IMG_9313
Its a warm day and the birds are hot
IMG_9314
Looking for bugs
IMG_9317
Sitting proudly
Female Black-headed Blackbird
Yellow-headed Blackbird (female)
Got a bug!
Got a bug!
Down she goes to feed her baby.
Down she goes to feed her baby.
Near the Visitor Center
Near the Visitor Center

 

For all you birders out there, please go to the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge web-site and take a look! Better yet, if you are ever in this area stop in for a visit, you won’t be disappointed. It is located just north of Willard, Utah.  I know you will enjoy seeing this gorgeous refuge.

 

Sharing with: Wild Bird Wednesday

http://paying-ready-attention-gallery.blogspot.com

 

 

~a salt dome, some pepper pods and a jungle ~

What does, a salt dome, pepper pods and a 200 acre jungle have in common? A trip to Avery Island, Louisiana, and a good time!

 

The salt dome extends eight miles beneath the earth’s surface and its protruding “island” part of the formation rising above the surface is Avery Island.

The pepper pods, obtained shortly after the Civil War, are special capsicum peppers. Seeds from these capsicum peppers, grown on the Island, are exported to Central and South America, where tabasco peppers are cultivated and harvested.

The 200 acre jungle is home to the world’s most beautiful sanctuaries for the preservation and study of flora and fauna. Edward McIlhenny, son of Tabasco sauce inventor Edmund McIlhenny, was a noted naturalist and explorer and decades ago he cultivated what is today called The Jungle Gardens of Avery Island.

Live Oaks and Lazy Lagoons
Live Oaks and Lazy Lagoons

It all began when Edmund McIlhenny cultivated a crop, invented a product over 125 years ago and founded a company on Avery Island.

 

As their current day brochure states. Much of the world knows about Tabasco pepper sauce.

McIlhenny Company
Tabasco Sauce Brand
Pepper Sauce!!

**I want to give credit for the information in this blog to the wonderful writers at Tabasco, I used their brochures in writing this blog.

I love our flag and here with it are the Louisiana State Flag and the Tabasco flag
The Tabasco Visitors Center. I love our flag and here with it are the Louisiana State Flag and the Tabasco flag.

 

Wednesday, April 2nd we traveled to Avery Island to visit Tabasco. We always have to be conscience of the time we are away from the coach, because of our two beautiful four-legged friends. So when we drove to Avery Island we needed to make a decision on what we wanted to see as we only had time to visit one of two tours. Did we want to tour the Jungle Gardens or take the Tabasco plant tour? It was not a tough decision.

Tabasco factory tours
Tabasco factory tours

We decided to toured the Jungle Gardens. What beautiful grounds they have; we could have spent the entire day hiking around admiring these gorgeous gardens and taking photos!

A meandering road through The Jungle Gardens
A meandering road through The Jungle Gardens
Looking for UFO's or perhaps UFB's.
Looking for UFO’s or perhaps UFB’s.

The 200 acres of jungle gardens are home to a large collection of some 600 varieties of camellias, including some that McIlhenny developed, along with thousands of azaleas, acres of wildflowers, groves of evergreens, english hollies and wistaria vines, just to mention a few.

The 300 year old Cleveland Oak
The 300 year old Cleveland Oak
Have you ever driven through a Wisteria Arch?
Have you ever driven through a Wisteria Arch?

The jungle gardens are a birder’s paradise! We made the right decision in taking this tour.

Over one hundred years ago, Edward McIlhenny helped save a beautiful egret from extinction – the Snowy egret. In 1895 when the snowy was being hunted for its plumage, Edward, built an aviary on Avery Island, and then captured and raised eight wild snowy egrets.

 

For the love of this bird, it all started over 100 years ago. The beautiful Snowy Egret
For the love of this bird, it all started over 100 years ago. The beautiful Snowy Egret

After they had raised their hatches and were ready to migrate, he released them. The snowy egrets returned the next spring and every spring since.

Today this rookery is fondly called “Bird City” where some 20,000 Snowy Egrets, plus many other species of birds, return each spring to raise their young.

The Rookery
The Rookery
An Anhinga couple
An Anhinga couple
The Great Blue Heron enjoying The Jungle Gardens
The Great Blue Heron enjoying The Jungle Gardens

For the love of the Great Blue Heron:

 

 

Others also enjoy The Jungle Gardens:

A snoozing little guy!
A snoozing little guy!
Nature's ultimate camouflage design at work
Nature’s ultimate camouflage design at work
I Spy
I Spy

 

As the time for our departure from Avery Island approached, we stopped at the Tabasco Store to look around. We enjoyed a nice cool cup of homemade ice cream, of course made with Tabasco peppers, sampled some of their flavored sauces and even purchased a few items to bring home. It was another fun day spent in Cajun Country!

The Tabasco Country Store
The Tabasco Country Store

 

Side note:
On our way down to New Iberia, Louisiana and then out to Avery Island we stopped for lunch at a local place called Landry’s. They serve a different daily lunch to a huge number of hard working folks! The food was delicious!

On this drive we were impressed with the oil and gas related businesses we passed. Thousands of people employed in this industry in numerous small Louisiana towns. From, large oil companies, oil service and training companies, to local support businesses like Laudry’s all employing hard working people.

We should all thank these businesses that supply our oil and gas, and the folks that work in them. It made us happy to see the booming economy in this area, to know that America is rich in oil and gas and that Louisiana is employing lots of people to work in these industries.

~

We said farewell to Louisiana, for now, and drove to Beaumont, Texas!

While in Beaumont we enjoyed two full, wonderful days of birding. We met some nice folks from the Houston Audubon Society in High Island and it was a special treat meeting a fellow birder and blogger at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. More on meeting Judy and how we spent these exciting two days later.

We arrived this morning, April 6th, at Stephen F. Austin State Park and we will be here for several days. As I sit here typing I can even count the number of Northern Cardinals we are seeing, so many in one place!

 

 

 

~With our nose pointing west….

 

With our nose pointing west….

We sadly leave family and friends in Mississippi and Louisiana….until next time our hearts remain with each of you.

Two weeks ago we visited our family in Purvis, Mississippi. We had a wonderful time and it was truly sad leaving them. They spoil us rotten while we are there.

We stay at my brother and sister-in-law’s farm. While there we also get to see my younger sister and many nieces, nephews, greats and great-greats! Love you guys and thanks for making us feel loved and welcome!

A few Mississippi photos:

Annie
Annie She loves to chase cows and run off critters at night
Japanese Magnolia (my brother love to plant trees and blooming scrubs)
Japanese Magnolia
(my brother loves to plant trees and blooming scrubs)
Another variety of Japanese Magnolia
Another variety of Japanese Magnolia
Sing Baby Sing I saw twenty-three species on the farm while there
Sing Baby Sing
I saw twenty-three species, of bird this visit

 

Big Red, Hot rod, Lace and Fat Mama/Lena before she foaled
Big Red, Hot Rod, Lace and Fat Mama/Lena before she foaled. All across the Front Pond
Front Pond, Howard and Leland going to see if the Wood Ducks were in the bog.
Front Pond, Howard and Leland going to see if the Wood Ducks were in the bog. We saw 14!

 

 A pair of Blue-winged Teals visiting the back  pong

A pair of Blue-winged Teals visiting the Back Pond
Red Missippippi Mud -back pond
Red Missippippi Mud
-back pond
Tracks, probably Turkey
Tracks, probably Turkey
Another view of the back pond
Another view of the back pond

Goodbye Mississippi, we’ll be back! 

After our visit in Mississippi we drove to Madisonville, Louisiana and again stayed at Fairview Riverside State Park. We stay there, because it is close to friends, who also spoil us rotten! We had a great time and hope to see yawl soon. Love you guys!

 

I have been posting a few photos from Fairview Riverside State Park and I have a few more to share, including my new bird sightings!

A beautiful Cypress Tree
A beautiful Cypress Tree

One evening we had dinner with Howard’s brother and our sister-in-law, who drove from Hobe Sound, Florida to visit with SIL’s family in Metairie. Remember we spent time visiting with them and family in Hobe Sound. We will see all of you very soon, with all our love!

We all met at a restaurant in Covington, Louisiana. Howard and Bob’s childhood friend and his family jointed us for dinner and we had a very enjoyable time visiting.

One morning we drove the 22 mile causeway over Lake Pontchartrain traveling, as they say, from the north shore to the south shore to the city of Metairie, which is near New Orleans. We went to visit with our 82 year old cousin. Joy is her name and she is a joy to be around.

As you can see we had a busy time and again our visit has come to an end. This morning we pulled out of Fairview Riverside State Park and pointed our nose west!!! 

 

Goodbye Madisonville, Louisiana, we’ll be back!

 

We are slowly making our way home to Colorado, stopping along the way where ever we want, to enjoy birding, hiking, sightseeing and some more good eats! 

We are staying a few days in Duson, Louisiana (can you say the cajun pronunciation of Duson). While here we will visit a state park in Abbeville, Louisiana to see if we would like to stop there on future trips through this area. We really love the State Parks!

Tomorrow night we plan to eat dinner at a restaurant near Lafayette, while a cajun band plays their unique style of music!

 

We have not decided on a specific route home.

 

We don’t have any firm plans beyond this point, except to visit some of the national wildlife areas near Beaumont, Texas, hoping to see some migrating birds. 

 

Which way, which way shall we go?

 

 

~Gators, Good Eats and Good Times~

~Meaher State Park~

Spanish Fort, Alabama

http://www.alapark.com/meaher/

Big Mama
Big Mama
(This Gator was sunning herself behind Felix’s Fish Camp)

We arrived at Meaher State Park on Sunday and have eaten our way to Tuesday. It is a good thing we are leaving Wednesday morning!  However, with more southern Good Eats to look forward to, before we leave the states of Mississippi and Louisiana, I guess going on a diet will have to wait until I return home! I won’t even think about Tex-Mex as we travel across Texas!

What do all the items listed below have in common? Good Eats in Spanish Fort, Alabama!!

~Southern Pecan Beer~Soft Shell Crab~Oysters~Red Beans and Rice~Cheesy Grits~Crab Cakes~Seafood Gumbo~Green Fried Tomatoes~Seasoned Fresh Turnips~

Two places, to enjoy a fantastic meal around the Mobile area are: Felix’s Fish Camp and The Oyster House.  Both of these restaurants are located within a couple of miles from the state park.

These are the two we dined at, but there are many more to choose from. Judging by the people eating out in this area, we would say the economy is booming! 

Felix's Fish Camp
Felix’s Fish Camp
(where we enjoyed a delicious lunch)
Felix
Felix, when he is not in the kitchen cooking!
The Original Oyster House
The Original Oyster House
(our day two lunch)
A tall glass of Southern Pecan beer from the Lazy Magnolia Brewery
At The Original Oyster house we enjoyed a tall glass of Southern Pecan beer from the Lazy Magnolia Brewery
(located in Mississippi!

If you are ever driving west on 1-10 toward Mobile, Alabama, think about stopping for a day or two at Meaher State Park in Spanish Fort. Ask for their senior discount!

Meaher State Park is a lovely park situated in the wetlands of Mobile Bay.  Lots of Bays in the area: Mobile Bay, Ducker Bay, Chacaloochee Bay, Justin’s Bay,  D-Olive Bay and I am sure there must be others.

The campground has 56 new campsites all with full hookups. It has a new bathhouse with a 6 machine laundry room. All sites have blacktop pads, lots of grassy area between each site and all set in among tall pines. We are in a back-in site right on the Bay. Which bay, I guess it depends in what direction you are looking!!

If you are into touring grocery stores (which I get a big kick out of) while traveling, you will have a wonderful selection to pick from here in Spanish Fort, to include Florida’s Publix and Fresh Market!

Back Yard Gator (one of two hanging out behind our coach)
Back Yard Gator (one of two hanging out behind our coach)
A Reflection of a Happy Camper
A Reflection of a Happy Camper
A Cloudy Day Swimmer
A Cloudy Day Swimmer
A Broad Walk out into the Bay
A Broadwalk out into the Bay
Do you see our camp site in the distance?
Another view of our site from the boardwalk
Another view of our site from the boardwalk
"Are you enjoying the Sunset over my Bay?"
“Are you enjoying the Sunset over my Bay?”
I feel like I should have given her a name!
Hundreds of ducks landing in the Bay for the night!
Hundreds of ducks landing in the Bay for the night!
The Bay Bridge in the distance and a Fishing Pier in the park
The Bay Bridge in the distance and a Fishing Pier in the park on the right
A Mobile Bay Sunset as taken from our backyard
A  Bay Sunset as taken from our backyard

Did you think I forgot to take any additional bird photos? Nope, just wait!

Live in the Now