We just returned from a week-long trip to the gulf coast. The main purpose of the trip was to run a marathon in our 50 state quest, though we got a fair amount of birding in! The only parrot part of our trip was seeing quakers fly over us.
As for the marathon part, Thomas and I both set PRs! Mine was a 10 minute PR (to a sub-3:30 race!), and his was over 30 minutes! We have several marathons and at least one ultra-marathon (50 miler) planned for later this spring.
I think this is one of the best pictures I have ever taken -- a pelican, roseate spoonbill, and ibis all taking off at the same time. The only thing that would have made this better is if you could have seen the spoonbill's head, but her coloring is so distinctive, I love this picture anyway. This was taken from the car. (The day before the marathon -- didn't want to be on our feet much!)That same day, we came across a dolphin. At first, we thought she was dying, as she was thrashing around in the shallow part of the coast, but we think she was just scaring up some food. We watched her for quite some time; she was quite agile. Every other time we've seen dolphins, they've been in a group, so hopefully this solitary one was OK.
We mostly birded and hiked post-marathon. It was so fun to see armadillos!
And this raccoon was one of the cutest things I've ever seen. He kept going up to the plants to see what might be hidden there.
Quintessential gulf cost picture. If I lived there, I'm not sure I'd ever get to work -- I'd just go birding all of the time.
We would have walked right past this nesting great-horned owl; luckily a volunteer at the national forest had us follow her and let us use her spotting scope:
In the botanical gardens, we were able to see this Buff-bellied Hummingbird. We'd spoken to one of the naturalists earlier who told us to look at the cherry blossoms to find him. We'd just about given up and were going to leave the garden when he appeared. What a treat!
This is a picture of one of our most exciting moments. We were driving along the highway when we had a feeling to get out and look. We had to traverse some pretty heavy brush, but it was worth it to see a flock of Black-crowned Night-Herons. During the day!
I love rails -- partly because they are so elusive and difficult to see. During our trip, we saw two Black Rails (different days), a Virginia Rail, and a King Rail. The king is the only one we were close enough to get some good pictures of:Isn't she gorgeous? We watched her for probably 5-10 minutes until she slunk off. She didn't seem to mind our presence and we tried to be as unobtrusive as possible.
We had such a fantastic trip and are hoping to take a mostly-birding trip at least once a year. It was wonderful to spend a week outdoors, in nature.
As for our parrots, they survived our absence just fine. I haven't spoken to our birdsitter yet; I just got her written message. All of the birds behaved for her, with the exception of Max. I just don't get it. Max is our best-behaved bird when it comes to parrot-human relationships. But she does not get along with our birdsitter (who is an amazing person and wonderful with birds in general -- she's the main volunteer at the rescue.)
She left me a cryptic note -- "Max is neither winning friends nor influencing people." I will find out tomorrow what that means. This is just mind-boggling to me and I have to think of ways that she can win Max's affection before our next trip!