Birds and a Gator

Our last day in South Padre Island - bummer. We will miss our friends, but what Julienne will miss is the beach. She walks more here than she's done in years. Today we walked down to the jetties, which are covered with thick, bright green moss.
We saw a lot of little sand crabs today. These tiny things move so fast that usually you see just a bit of movement and by the time you focus on it, they're gone. But one of them stood still and let me take his picture
After we put the dogs back in the RV, we met everyone for breakfast at White's, followed by a trip to the Bird Sanctuary. The sanctuary is an area of about 50 acres that is being managed as wetlands. In the office they show a little film about the place, and they have a beautiful office parrot named JoJo. JoJo is a little shy; they say he can talk but he wasn't saying anything today. He's only about 1 1/2 years old, so he has time to learn.
We went up to the top of the tower to look around, then went back down, bought little paper bags of bird seed, and headed out on the boardwalk.
Of course the birds know very well that the little paper bags contain bird seed, so they rushed up and followed us. We were on the boardwalk and they mostly stayed below, on the banks. I liked the American Coot with his big, goofy feet. He's checking out the slim green feet on his buddy, a Common Gallinue
And there were lots of pigeons and blackbirds. They followed us along the entire path, expecting to be fed. I did feed them but I didn't want to give them all the seed. This guy wasn't happy with me. Not at all.
The brown pelican wasn't interested in seeds; he was fishing. And he was really good at it, he caught several in a row, very easily. 
None of the cranes or herons wanted seeds, either. For them, it was all about the fish. This pretty Tricolored heron was fishing right below us.
At the end of one leg of the boardwalk we discovered why, during that beautiful sunset, we saw flocks of birds sitting on top of the water. They weren't sitting on the water at all - they were standing on the ground. The water here is really shallow!
Our friends have been here before and told us about the alligator who lives here. He's been here several years, all by himself. Recently the folks in charge of the sanctuary decided that "Ally the Alligator" needed a friend. They brought in a female gator and suddenly there were 2 big gators and 10 little gators. It's a big sanctuary so the odds were against us to see any of them, but we all really wanted to. And, unbelievably, the guys found one! It's just a couple of feet long, but with all this fish around, it's going to get a lot bigger....soon. But he sure is cute right now!
South Padre Island is an important stop on the twice-a-year bird migration path. This is a pretty area and apparently lots of water birds stay here all year. Wish I could have gotten closer to the pink ones, but this isn't a zoo, so they can sit wherever they want.
By this time we were all hungry. Randy and I hadn't tried Dirty Al's yet, so we went there for lunch and ordered the 40-piece Botana. 10 pieces each of shrimp, fish, chicken and oysters, with a ton of lightly-battered french fries. Wow, was this good!
Even with 5 of us, it was a challenge to finish is all -  but we did. So we knew we didn't want a big dinner later. Randy and I went back to the RV to pack up for tomorrow and around 7:00 we went over to Jenny's with pulled pork, potatoes and fruit salad. Jenny added a yummy salad and we enjoyed an evening of two of our favorite things: eating and talking. It's going to be hard to leave tomorrow.

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