Monday, December 8, 2014

8-Mile Road and Sportsmen's Road

Date of visit:  11/9/2014

There seems to be a constant stream of rare birds this year.  Unfortunately, I have not the time, money, or energy to chase them all.  Fortunately, there are plenty of birds and birding trail sites near home to visit.  Someone posted online that the loons had returned to Galveston.  I had never seen one and decided the island would be a good destination for the day.  

Great Southern White 

The driving directions for this site take you first to Moody Gardens, where I started in the butterfly gardens.  Here, among the many flowers and herbs, are plaques providing interesting facts such as Texas has approximately 400 butterfly species, more than any other state.  Wow!  Someday, maybe I'll do a butterfly big year...after my birding big year...after I'm done with this project...I'm going to need a lot of years to accomplish all these things.

I saw several butterflies, including the Great Southern White with it's turquoise blue antennal clubs.          

Unknown bird inside the Moody Gardens Rainforest Pyramid.

Moody Gardens has many exhibits that are viewable for a fee, including an aquarium, rainforest, IMAX, man-made beach, etc.  Tickets are available on an a la carte basis, or daily passes and memberships may be purchased.  The butterfly gardens and the walking paths are accessible free of charge.

I couldn't resist a visit inside the Rainforest Pyramid.  Birds flew free, landing in a tree branch beside me or on the path just steps ahead.  A monkey suddenly appeared on the railing beside me.  A sloth is also free to roam around, but mostly sleeps in the canopy at his favorite spot.  If I had to be a captive animal, I'd want to be in a place such as this.  

I used to bring my daughter here when she was little, so it was a bit of a sentimental journey.  I miss those days terribly sometimes, and then I witness a toddler throwing a temper tantrum and remember I don't miss everything about those days.  

I'm not sure what the bird in the photograph is called, but I love his beautiful blue eye.  If anybody can identify it, please do so in the comments.

Common Loon

I found one!  The Common Loon was swimming in Offatt Bayou, which is viewable from the walking paths behind the pyramids.    

Brown Pelican

Brown Pelicans were swimming, diving, and perching on the pilings past the Palm Beach area, near the end of the walkway.  I think this is the bluest I've seen the water anywhere in Galveston.  Except for a little cropping, these photos are straight out of the camera.  I didn't alter the color at all.

Neotropic Cormorant

The Neotropic Cormorant was feeding near the marina.

I followed the directions on the map from Moody Gardens to 8-Mile and Sportsmen's Road.  I did find some birds, but I got my best photos in and around the pyramids and Offatt Bayou.  

Did you notice a lot of blue in these photos?  I did, so I'm linking to Blue Monday.

High 70 deg F
Sunny, mild breeze
Birds identified (23):  European Starling, Great-tailed Grackle, House Sparrow, Common Loon, Brown Pelican, Laughing Gull, Willet, Ruddy Turnstone, Neotropic Cormorant, Snowy Egret, Least Sandpiper, White Ibis, Northern Mockingbird, Western Sandpiper, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Killdeer, Dunlin, Great Egret, Yellow-Crowned Night Heron, Ring-billed Gull, Osprey, Great Blue Heron, Mottled Duck

Butterflies: Monarch, Cloudless Sulphur, Gulf Fritillary, Great Southern White, Queen


  1. Hi Jen,

    I sure did notice a bunch of blues. Thanks for making Blue Monday special.

    I'm looking forward to reading your comment on my Christmas music post. Please come back.

    Happy Blue Monday!

  2. The unknown bird looks amazing! He certainly has big eyes!

  3. Hi!

    I found you by popping in with Smiling Sally! Love your photos, too.

    Have you seen any of June Osborne's books about birding in Texas? She was a friend in Waco and I highly recommend her books to you as you seek to find the birding places in TX.

    Wishing you well.

  4. What wonderful photoes and I had no idea that Tx had the largest butterfly population.

  5. Every time I think about the Loons, I remember ON GOLDEN POND, one of my favorite movies.:)
    I've never seen a Loon...maybe, someday I can.
    Thanks for sharing all your great photos...and thanks for coming by.
    xo bj

  6. I don't know what the type is, but I love that one, ever so beautiful. Everything is superb.

  7. Great shot of the loon Jen. Here we call the same species Great Northern Diver but I think I prefer your Common Loon.

  8. What a gorgeous unknown!!!
    And congrats on finding a loon....I want to also, but yet to find one. Someday

  9. This is such a great time of year for you to see so many birds wintering in warmer climes! Love the loon shot!

  10. congrats on spotting the loon! like the exotic bird, too. :)

  11. wow, what a gorgeous bird with that blue eye feature :)

  12. yes....lots of blue and lot's of awesome wildlife!! congrats on the loon sighting!!

  13. I loved going to the Moody Gardens Rain forest as a kid. Also, the blue eyed bird is amazing looking.

  14. Very pretty birds, that looks like a great place.