I guess today would be a prime example of the reason this “riding fence” is most worthwhile in my mind and exemplifies things we learn in the process.

Jeff Wolda, the new guide on PINS, and I started at the end of the pavement at 07:30 a.m. Seas were clear and 2 ft. in height and small organic debris was continuous along the entire shoreline. Apparently from Hurricane Isaac. Very few birds were seen on the way south other than staging flocks of Sanderlings and occasional mixed shorebirds.,/p>

A 10 point buck White-tailed Deer was dead in the surf at the 36 mile with no visible wounds and bloated but fresh. 1,200 yards north of the Turtle Shack at the 39 mile we encountered a heavy crude oil spill 10′ to 30’+ wide which continued 800 yards South; almost to the 40 mile. At the 46 mile we encountered 800 yards of heavy crude oil and at the 49 mile beachfront we encountered 1,300 yards. They were too liquid to be actually called “balls”.

Around 2,000 Terns were encountered at the Port Mansfield jetty and we had less than 6,000 total all morning. I called PINS NPS Resource Management (Wade) and reported the oil spills and called Mel Cooksey and Petra Hockey and told them our birds were absent. On the way out in mid afternoon we encountered 45,130 Terns. These birds are feeding offshore and out of sight in the morning and can’t accurately be counted till afternoon. This is not an assumption as we continuously see this over and over.

We encountered one oiled Grebe at the 49 mile. On the way out we passed one NPS Natural Resources team, one TX General Land Office Team and one unknown vehicle heading down into the area of the spill. I advised NR team of the apparently oiled but alive Grebe. 27 Long-billed Curlews, 2 Spotted Sandpipers, 2 Red Knots, 1 Great Egret, 3 Skimmers, 1 Yellow-crowned Night Heron, 3 Wilson’s Plover, 1 Little Blue Heron, and at least 1200 Sanderlings in 2 staging flocks were observed. Driving was good and water was clear the entire length of PINS. Many Least Terns were observed so obviously this small cold front Sat. night did not move these birds.

Capt. Billy L. Sandifer


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