Great Day for a Paddle & a Surprise Ending!

There is no such thing as a perfect day … especially while attached to a dock, but today came close.  First a 3 mile walk, featuring the marina resident horned owls on the return.  Middle of the day kayaking — a perfect day for a paddle out among the mangroves and spoil islands out the channel to the marina.  Finally end the afternoon with a dip in the swimming pool and a surprise appearance by a visitor enroute.

Burnt Store Marina Channel from our kayaks.

Burnt Store Marina Channel from our kayaks.

Paddling out the channel of the marina, there’s shallow water on both sides and two mangrove islands that emerged when the channel was originally dredged.  Despite the fact that the water here is ice tea clear, not crystal aqua beautiful, we could still clearly see the bottom a few feet below the kayaks.  David spotted a ray almost immediately and we watched several horseshoe crabs swimming along the sand.  Mullet jumped all around us and I hoped that none of them accidentally landed in the kayak, I might have to depart the kayak quickly!

We watched the American Oystercatchers hiding among the other shorebirds on the small sandbars … first time we’ve identified them – their bright orange/red beak is powerful enough to open oysters!  And clams and other similar species.

Shorebirds gather on a sandbar just outside the channel.

Shorebirds gather on a sandbar just outside the channel.

The first time we ID's an American Oystercatcher - their bright red beaks are strong enough to open oysters!

The first time we ID’s an American Oystercatcher – their bright red beaks are strong enough to open oysters!

The difference between American White Pelicans and regular Brown Pelicans?  Despite being one of North America’s largest birds (and somewhat rare most places, but not here), the American White Pelican is quite beautiful as it soars gracefully overhead and even while landing on the water or sandbar.  But these pelicans never do “The Pelican Ballet” – synchronized kamikaze diving into the water to catch fish.  American White Pelicans simply scoop fish up while they’re floating on the water and don’t enjoy the typical pelican stunt routine.  The more common Brown Pelican may be more ungainly in appearance, but certainly knows how to kamikaze plunge into the water and catch fish!

White American Pelican landing on the sandbar.

American White Pelican landing – and no, the white pelican on the left is not headless, just had its head dipped away from the camera.

The Brown Pelican also lands in trees and marina pilings, not necessarily gracefully!  But we’ve never seen a white pelican land anywhere but on water or a sandbar.



Oh, and the tree below is not a white flocked Christmas variety … this is what happens when enough cormorants and brown pelicans roost on the branches!

No definitely not a holiday flocked white tree...

No definitely not a holiday flocked white tree…

The cormorants share the trees with the Brown Pelicans and dry their wings, both in the trees and on the sandbar between White Pelicans.

Cormorant drying his wings.

Cormorant drying his wings.

After paddling back and giving the kayaks a good freshwater rinse, we decide a dip in the pool would top this day off just perfectly.  So we grab our beach towels & kindles and walk to the pool.  Walking from the marina to the pool involves passing a small lake.  While we were walking, there were ripples in the water just beyond where we could see.  I immediately thought of the rather large turtle who likes to hang out in the vicinity.  I think I jumped a mile watching this guy climb (maybe vault is a better description?) over the wooden seawall…..  YIKES!

Is he really GRINNING at me?

Is he really GRINNING?  So do we think this is “the better to eat you with, my dear” smile?

Later when we left the pool, he was still there, leisurely sunning himself.   Not so different that what we were doing, I guess … floating around, cooling off.  Then climbing out of the pool to dry in the warm afternoon sun.

Enjoying the warm afternoon sun.

Enjoying the warm afternoon sun.

We’ll just give him his space and head on back to the boat!  Today was definitely a fun day, not as fun as sailing yesterday afternoon, but fun just the same!


  1. What a wonderful environment you live in. We once spotted some Oystercatchers on an island here in the Hauraki Gulf NZ and had a chance to observe them. They don’t actually open the oysters themselves. What they do is stand on rock just like your pic and wait for the tide to come in. The oysters remain closed when the tide is out but when the tide starts to come in and wash over them, the open up to filter food. As they open to feed, the birds very quickly jam their long beaks into the partially open oysters and extract the juicy oyster. Very cunning. Great food source as they have no natural competitors for the food.

    • THANKS John! I had no idea, my bird book didn’t give me that much explanation & I haven’t had a chance yet to do any research online on the Oystercatchers. Cheers! Jan

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