Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Mar 31 (Day 90) - Dauphin Island arrival, camera problems solved!

Dauphin Island has a reputation as one of, if not the best, birding spot in all of Alabama. Dauphin sits at the mouth of Mobile Bay, and it is a fantastic migrant trap. Many species of birds migrate across the Gulf of Mexico from the Yucatan Peninsula in a single, non-stop flight. These birds are exhausted when they reach the Gulf Coast, and they descend on the first land masses they see to rest and refuel. Since Dauphin juts prominently out into the Gulf, it is the first bit of land that many of these migrants see. On good days the island can be crawling with migrants. It is also worth noting that the migrating birds also utilize the offshore oil rigs as rest stations; This is a rare example of a positive externality in the oil industry.

South to Dauphin! ~62 miles today.

I had arranged to meet another of my online photography friends, Socrate, at Dauphin for some afternoon birding. Socrate and I regularly view each other's work at our favorite photography website, www.fredmiranda.com. After my camera died two days ago, I put up a post describing my situation on this website. As I am a very active member of this online community, I received a number of notes and offers of help from other members. The most outstanding of these offers came from Socrate. He has offered to lend me his Canon 7D for the remainder of the year. He lives not Far from Dauphin, so he just drove over to meet me this afternoon. The 7D is the exact same model that I was using, so this transition will be seamless. I used this camera for most of the afternoon today with results exactly on par with my own, now-defunct, camera body. We spent the afternoon birding some of the hotspots on Dauphin, and I got to hear a lot about his life including about his time as a pilot in the Italian Armed Forces. Socrate is a fantastic photographer and an even better human being. He just told me to take the camera and enjoy it as my trip would not be the same without it. He is even going to coordinate the repair of my old body since he is a member of Canon's Professional Service Program. It was an amazing set of gestures from a truly generous man. I just hope I can show the same generosity to someone else in the near future.

Socrate and Dorian 

I did add two birds to the year's list today, Yellow-billed cuckoo (#267) and Red-eyed vireo (#268). I also found many Hooded warblers, several Eastern kingbirds, and a single Louisiana waterthrush. Birding was a bit slow today since the winds last night were from the north. This means that no birds attempted the Gulf crossing last night so there is a bit of a bird vacuum here at the moment. I expect to have a fresh crop of migrants tomorrow since the southeast winds should help carry many migrants across the Gulf. I am specifically hoping to find Black-throated blue warbler and Cape May warbler. These 2 birds winter in the West Indies and migrate north mainly over the eastern half of the Gulf. Therefore, the further west that I bike the less likely it is that  I am going to find either of these birds. Migration is just getting going, so it could be a bit early for either of these species. I cannot, however, wait around for too long since I must be in Texas for the main thrust of the migration that will come in a few weeks. I could easily miss these birds, but that's how is goes on the bike. This would be a non-issue during regular big years. 

***Click for bigger images***

  A distant Louisiana waterthrush - big white eyeline!

Treetop Yellow-billed cuckoo

Hooded warbler very close!

Snowy plover also very close!

Great blue heron SUPER close!

Sandpiper tracks at sunset - taken with iPhone!

I am going to spend all day tomorrow on Dauphin, so hopefully I can tack on a few new species!


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  2. Sue, the Florida Farm GirlApril 1, 2014 at 2:41 PM

    Glad you got the camera situation fixed. Not surprised at all that Socrate helped you out. I was hoping that you'd meet up with him while you're in the area.

    1. Yes, it worked out amazingly well. He's a great guy!