Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Dec 16 (Day 350) - Boating for birds!

As I discussed yesterday, there is are a pair of flamingos, one American and one Greater, that have been bouncing around the Texas Coast for the past few years. These birds have a few favorite haunts where they are occasionally seen. One of these is the large expanse of mudflats on Cox Bay behind (i.e south of) the Alcoa plant in Port Lavaca. The birds were seen at this location on Saturday, and it was to this location that I headed today. As I cannot use motorized boats, a kayak became the most viable transportation option. Bob Friedrichs, a local birder and fisherman, volunteered not only his kayaks but also his guidance for the search today. 

We meet on the east side of Lavaca Bay and launched with a moderately strong NE wind blowing across us. The general idea was to paddle around the Alcoa plant to reach Cox Bay. We were somewhat sheltered from the wind by the large island, but it was still fairly bumpy. Since I have used my arms for nothing this year,  they fatigued quite quickly today. I also had great difficult steering the kayak at the oust. Between my lack of skill and the winds/waves, it was a real challenge for the first hour or so. I eventually got the hang of it. We made good time and after about 2 hours (and a single portage to cut off some paddling), we reached the flamingo area. We scanned and scanned; We were not able to locate the birds. We explored the area further with the same result: no flamingos.

We paddled from where Route 35 hits the eastern 
edge of Lavaca Bay around that big island and 
the plant to reach the center of Cox Bay.
We figured we paddled around 8 miles.

Bob during our quarter mile portage

Cox Bay, looking southeast during our portage. 
We paddled over towards that far shoreline.

This was a painful miss for several reasons. First, American flamingo would have been a very high quality bird for the year. Second, as I do not have many possible birds left, missing any of them seems like a huge deal right now. Third, my guide Bob took time of of his day to escort me, and I really wanted his efforts to be rewarded. It was not to be though. As a bird chaser, you must recognize and accept the fact that misses are part of the process. However, seeing the bird is only part of the puzzle. There were many positives that came out of the outing. I met a great person in Bob, explored a new area of the country, and birded in a new way. The winds on the return paddle were murderous, but that's all part of it. I will say that "Kayaking for Birds" won't be happening anytime soon. The main reason for this is that it's so damn hard to take a leak when out in open water. I almost burst on the return trip! Here's a video. I was a bit flustered trying to make it and not fall out of the boat; Please excuse the somewhat discombobulated commentary.

This was unfortunately my only crack at American flamingo. Returning tomorrow is not an option for many reasons (increasing winds, tired arms, Bob has a life beyond me). I need to be in/around Lake Jackson and Freeport on Thursday afternoon to get ready for the Yellow rail search that is now scheduled for Friday morning. There will be strong east winds tomorrow. I am, of course, headed due east. I hope to get an early start and lay down a decent chunk of miles before midday when I might get shut down for a few hours. There could also be thunderstorms on Thursday and Friday. The weekend is looking much better, but the next few days are going to be a royal slog - UGH.

Biked west to Palacios after the kayak session - just 28 miles total

Tomorrow could be rough. I expect both my arms and my legs to be sore and tired. So stoked for more headwinds! Woot woot!

1 comment:

  1. Oh man, that is some tough kayaking in some tough conditions! Don't be afraid to take a day off if you need to!