I have stopped for a few days in southern Alabama, partly to see the Gulf Coast and partly to break up the long trip between Florida and Texas. I am now in Summerdale, which is about 15 miles north of Gulf Shores, and 15 miles west of Mobile Bay. I drove over to Mobile Bay yesterday -- good timing, because our weather turned rainy and cold today. Snow is even forecast for more northern parts of Alabama!
Mobile Bay is a tidal estuary, where the fresh water from the rivers that drain into the Gulf mingles with salt water. The fresh water brings nutrients, and the tidal action mixes them, creating a rich environment for the entire food chain. The dock in the town Fairhope was damaged in both Hurricane Ivan (2004) and Hurricane Katrina (2006), but has now been repaired and is open for fishing, boating or strolling. The fisherman in the picture above told me he hadn't caught anything yet today, but didn't really care -- he was just in love with the Bay and enjoyed being on the dock, breathing the sea air, and watching the gulls. Laughing Gulls were everywhere. Every so often another type of gull would fly by or an occasional pelican could be seen perched on a piling, but the Laughing Gulls were dominant. The city had erected several purple martin houses on poles in the water, but they appeared to be empty.
And then there was the crane. He had staked out his territory at the very end of the pier, hoping for a fish hand out. The Human wasn't paying him any attention, so he took the opportunity to check out the gear stashed against the wall. He'd move a little closer, and wait until he was sure the Human wasn't looking. Then a little closer. Another wait. A little closer. Drat. No fish in the cart! All that stealth wasted! But maybe if he hung around a little longer the Human might catch a fish and share...
Laughing Gull:One Second of Flight