Jim Stevenson kindly left his house to us while he went to Florida to visit his mother. Jim’s place is a wooded oasis in a desert of new subdivisions spreading like cancer the length of Galveston Island. Before he drove off he casually said, “By the way, watch where you put your feet. I just saw a big cottonmouth in the yard.” From the wooden observation deck above the house we watched Roseate Spoonbills and egrets out in a marsh, White-tailed Kites hovering over the fields, and cormorants and ducks swimming in a pond. We’ve had four days to rest here. We think we deserve it.
Christmas day in Galveston dawned clear and cool – at least cool for Texas. Not as cool as we are used to however. The typical December 25th in Whitehorse is about 0 F (-18 C). In Texas it was about 60 F (16 C). Instead of skiing out past Hidden Lakes, we went down to the beach. A couple of men were sitting shirtless on lawn chairs. They toasted us with Bud Lights and said that it doesn’t get any better than this.
During Bird Year, we never get a holiday from birding. We scanned every gull, hoping that one of them was a Lesser Black-backed. Unfortunately Santa Claus only left us Ring-billed and Laughing Gulls, although we did see a Mottled Duck, the first one of the trip.
The best part of the day was using the stove in Jim’s kitchen. We are cooking a real holiday meal, instead of our typical one-pot-glop using the camp stove. It is almost ready as I type this: nut loaf, mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, broccoli, cauliflower and yams. It is time to go set the table. . .