2021-01-30 Boca Chica Beach

Bonaparte's Gull - Chroicocephalus philadelphia
The Bonaparte’s Gulls I met here on the river mouth seemed to be juveniles. I rode my bike to the southern end of Boca Chica Beach and enjoyed meeting the foraging birds at the mouth of the Rio Grande. This is the east-most border of Texas and Mexico.

I wanted to ride my bike on Boca Chica Beach all week, but operations at the Space-X Launch Complex mandated a closure of the road to the beach. Finally, on Saturday, the road opened, and I drove out to meet the birds that haunt the gulf shores. Most folks visiting Boca Chica head north to the jetty opposite South Padre Island, but for me the most interest was in the river mouth of the Rio Grande. Estuaries, where fresh water systems meet the ocean, are ripe with life, and hold the promise of meeting creatures making a natural living. Fish often concentrate in such places as they prepare to drive upstream to spawn or forage, and where there are fish, there will often be fish eaters engaged in gathering groceries.

I didn’t capture images of all the birds I met on the beach. I missed on Ruddy Turnstones, Sanderlings, and Herring Gulls. I was luckier with American Avocets, American White Pelicans, Boneparte’s Gulls, Brown Pelicans, Forster’s Terns, Greater Yellowlegs, Laughing Gulls, Reddish Egrets, Ring-Billed Gulls, and Snowy Egrets.

I enjoyed meeting Bonaparte’s Gulls here, but my favorite episode was watching a first-cycle Ring-Billed Gull perching on a foraging Brown Pelican, hoping to catch a meal that the larger bird might let slip away. I’d read about these kinds of parasitic relationships in birds, but it was so interesting to watch it in action.

When I finished with the birds at the river mouth, I turned north, intent on reaching the jetty everyone else seemed so interested in. Unfortunately, a mechanical failure on the bike, about three-quarters of the way out, prevented me from achieving my goal, and I had to turn back. The chain tensioner on my bike came off while I was peddling north, and I had to limp back to the RV. I found most of the parts on the beach sand, but securing them in place without tools (I forgot to take them with me on the ride) was beyond my finger strength. I shall have to return one day and see for myself what lies at the north end of the beach. I have my doubts that my bird meetings there could surpass those I had at the river mouth.

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