Our day of touring Galveston, Texas took us to a couple of venues that featured an unusually high number of birds.
With Avery Island’s location in southern Louisiana the main agricultural business is sugar cane.
With the year round warm, wet weather it is the perfect climate for nature to grow. In the late 1800s the son of the founder of Tabasco sauce, Edward Avery McIlhenny, created the botanical gardens known as Jungle Gardens.
The gardens cover 170 acres of Avery Island.
There isn’t a large number of different plants, flowers and trees, but the gardens are well laid out, and immaculately kept up.
As with most of Louisiana, water is always nearby.
Including this nice pond, with a warning sign to not feed the alligators (which seems like anyone would know that).
We did NOT feed this alligator.
The turtles were safely out of harms way.
A few buildings remain from the early days of Tabasco pepper growing.
This drive is appropriately named Wisteria Lane, as you make your way under the Wisteria arch.
The highlight however is Bird City. In 1895 Edward raised eight egrets in captivity, releasing them in the fall for their migration. The next year they returned with more egrets.
Ever since then thousands of egrets return to Avery Island in the spring and reside there until late summer.
When we arrived for the Tabasco tour we were one of the few who opted to purchase combination tickets for the factory tour and the gardens. It was money well spent!
Early on a Sunday morning we paid a visit to the Living Treasures Wild Animal Park. Located just east of New Castle, Pennsylvania this park has over 70 different animals.
Their claim to fame is you get to get up close to all of the animals, with opportunities to feed many of them carrots or peanuts you buy in the souvenir shop.
As with a zoo, I am always torn to visit places like this – it is great to see the animals but you feel bad for them in their cages. But alas – we went and had a nice time taking photos and feeding them carrots. Feel free to correct any misidentified animals (they do have a nice website with photos and profiles of all of their animals)
Green Winged Macaw
Ring Tailed Lemur
Scottish Highlander Cattle
Cockatiel (I think)
African Crowned Crane
A butterfly (not really part of the zoo – but it was so still on the dung pile it made a great photo)
Cotton Top Tamarin
The next two were in the petting zoo – I even took photos of the signs and deleted them. Feel free to update.
Egyptian Fruit Bats. I took the photo and flipped it over to better see them.
The monkeys knew enough that when you put carrots in their bucket they pulled the chain to get them.
Eurasian Eagle Owl
You have to scratch where it itches. We had a good time at the park, but glad we were there just when they opened as by the time we left there were a number of people there and the animals I think had had enough carrots for the morning.
Lens envy hit me enough I picked up a new Canon EF 100-400 F/4.5-5.6 lens. With an hour or so we buzzed through the zoo so I could play with my new toy.
Taken through a dirty window. This new lens is much faster than what I had.
Another taken through dirty windows.
The 400mm is enough to pull in some shots.
The clarity is so much better than my Tamron 150-600mm, although the 600mm does get some really distant shots this won’t.
Wildebeests from about 100 yards.
The zoo worker was enjoying feeding the giraffe.
Vervet monkeys through more dirty glass.
More shots through the same dirty glass (a recurring theme).
Camels – finally a non obstructed shot.
In the bird section.
An eagle taken through the netting (shown as well).
With that the last train out of the zoo was leaving. This new lens is great, I am looking forward to sharing better shots on this blog.
With the small ship the entire crew, and other passengers, quickly become familiar with each other on a first name basis. One of the great features was the permission to go onto the bridge anytime you like during the day, unless they were in an especially tricky navigation spot.
This day I went up and it was just the Captain and me, jamming out to ‘Wish You Were Here’ by Pink Floyd, while we cruised along at about 5 knots looking for whales.
Later we anchored in a bay and set the kayaks out.
This bay offered more wildlife, which if I recall the information from the guides correctly are Cormorants.
A mama otter with her baby on her chest floating in the bay.
One of the paddle boarders and a kayak backed by 8000′ mountains.
Later on the same kayak outing we passed this otter, who was not happy we were in his space as he bared his teeth and hissed at us.
You can tell the females as their noses are dinged up from rough sex where the male apparently bites their noses in passion.
Why paddle board with your feet on the board when you can do a handstand.
Nothing better than to be in a still bay in Alaska checking out the sea life near the rocks.
A Harbor Seal.
The waters were so calm everything had great reflections.
The next morning there was thick fog that gradually lifted through the morning.
An eagle soaring above the fog.
A skiff returns across the calm waters.
The afternoon was spent ‘bushwhacking’ through the forest. No bears or other wildlife was found but there was evidence of foresting that once occurred there.
The ground was so thick with the moss that it was spongy.
more to come….
The National Aviary is located on the north side of Pittsburgh. It is the largest aviary in the country, as well as being non profit, so the U.S. government honored it by naming it the ‘National Aviary’.
There are more than 150 different types of birds in the aviary, all living in a nice environment for being captive.