Day 6: The Path Less Taken Was Clearly Marked


Tuesday, 13 April 2004
Gulf Shores, Alabama

A fairly un-medicated Jen began feeling better. She was up and about, getting her bearings and seemed to have a bit of an appetite—a good sign. The wind whistled outside our window, and though the sun occasionally peeked out from the clouds, it definitely looked chilly out. The waves were pretty high, breaking from another direction, and the water was a dark green.

Every-so-often, the sun shone brightly like a spotlight far out on the water and it shimmered like gold before disappearing. It must have been good fishing weather; the pelicans cruised off-shore, diving here and there for their breakfast. The horizon looked different. Instead of a flat line, it was choppy and wavy, and if you looked at it through the binoculars, it looked like one solid, continuously breaking wave as far as you could see from left to right. It just seemed to drop off behind the wave ridge, and between the horizon and the waves breaking at the shore the Gulf was relatively wave-free, though the swells were moving fast. A very strange effect.

Today’s big outing was to Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. (Jen was glad to skip the birding and stayed behind to rest.) Karen, Anne, and I walked the Pine Beach Trail and had the best birding of the trip. We saw many birds including the colorful summer tanager, blue grosbeak, indigo bunting, and my favorite, the yellow-billed cuckoo. We started at around 2:30 and walked for four hours, seeing one new kind of bird after another. Once again, in keeping with the theme of our nature walks, we hiked down a CLEARLY MARKED path to find a “public entry prohibited” sign. Doh! No sooner did I see the sign at the end of the path when a park ranger came walking up to meet us and I thought for sure we were busted. Turned out he was just curious about the birds we were watching. He and a friend joined us in our birding at a particularly good spot. After about 20 minutes, we said our goodbyes and returned back down the CLEARLY MARKED trail.

Lasting Impressions:

  • If I never hear Jessica Simpson or “Ev’ry body in the club get tip-say” ever again, it will be too soon.
  • Waiter at the restaurant where we had dinner: “A hurricane is just an excuse to party.”

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1 Response

  1. Cricket

    Another interesting–and gross–yellow-billed cuckoo fact: In the Eastern regions of the country, they eat tent caterpillars, up to 100 (!) in a sitting. Also, they have an interesting foot structure, with two toes forward and two toes in back. This allows them to perch easily (presumably near caterpillar-infused webs) but makes it difficult for them to walk or hop. Weirdly enough, though, roadrunners are in the same family, and all they do is run. (They rarely fly.)
    I suppose that’s too many bird observations for one comment. What can I say? I’m a bird nerd.

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