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January 15, 2014 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Gators. Where yat?

If they had wanted Icees, they would have crawled next to the Slurpee machines in the convenience stores.

(Agencies assured all this location was ideal for sun seekers. Sigh. Fooled again)

Time to roughly check on the scale of the problem along a local wetland trail.

shedding leaves to stay warm?

Shunning their leaves. Tree nudists dancing in the warming sun.

It’s a risk: A sudden burst of winter sun will bring out a surge of mammals.

Everyone squinting in the bright light.

Easy to take a wrong step or crunch a car door.

 Just so many parking spaces.

Just so many clearings allotted for two footers and fur ones.

The cold-hearted gators grumpy – for good reason.

Down the refurbished trail. Great! No mud - or gators

Down the refurbished trail. Great! No mud – or gators..yet

The popular Pine Gully trail rambles close to neighborhoods, is a bird watching site, and it’s just so darn pleasant – even in extreme cold or heat.

A protected wetlands marsh, it meanders through shady woods, among native grasses and pools, then flows into Galveston Bay.

It almost died.

this looks more promising. Bound to be someone home

This looks promising. Bound to be someone home around here.

The bay has salt water tides which surge into the gully.

Along with water comes sand and silt.

Fresh water drains from inland.

Bringing dirt, discards, and yard chemicals.

The wetlands have managed to balance it all for years.

There’s a huge busy shipping channel from the Gulf of Mexico through Galveston Bay to the Port of Houston.

Tankers, container ships, and supertankers constantly move past like silent giants.

Their wakes create large waves (surf-able ones, although not so smart there in the channel) and send more bay water into Pine Gully.

More water going in is great: keeps water levels stable in the backwater areas. But there’s also more silt.

something

Million dollar view – free. (Please don’t pester the inhabitants)

Periodically Pine Gully’s channel is neatly cared for by Mother Nature.

Spring floods or tropical storms send inland water rushing down the gully to the bay.

Clears all sort of stuff all the way down and out.

Sparkling waters. Happy inhabitants. Birds sing.

the pinks are flying in

In the winter migrating birds arrive. These are the pinks guys flying in.

Then there was Hurricane Ike. 

Salt Water surged in from the gulf and bay – possibly 8 feet in this spot.

Part of the cycle.

Critters of all sort sought higher land to wait out the bay water flooding inland.

To wait out the rain and flood waters draining out in reverse direction into the bay.

pink crowd

The pink flock is really really bright pink. The day was so bright my camera didn’t catch the brilliant hue. Lots of photographers were set up in this spot. Molly was quite polite and quiet among it all.

But loads of silt,vegetation, and debris blocked the gully’s entrance to the bay.

Totally fixable with a little desire and effort.

Channel restored

Volunteers planted marsh grasses.

Life floated, swam, and flew as usual.

Only it nearly died from a man-made threat.

the bay - the sand bar containtership wakes silt corps of engineers

Pine Gully flowing into Galveston bay. The rock jetty at the gully’s mouth is new. An attempt to limit the wave action and amount of silt that can flow into the wetlands.

Environmentalists, neighborhoods, and friends of the area protested.

The Corps of Engineers gave approval anyway.

A large container port and storage facility was built right around the corner. Huge container ships arrived pushing very large wakes.

And what was predicted happened. 

Silt blocked the mouth of Pine Gully and the wetlands, without those tidal surges, started drying up.

Of course there were lawsuits.

The Container Port agreed to fix the damage their port and ships are doing to the area.

shore birds and deer tracks deep mud

No gator tracks, these. But everyone wants to inspect the new stuff.

And long waits for settlements from the 2008 Hurricane disaster funds.(State and Federal)

Finally work started last fall.

Pine Gully Trails were closed. (and it seemed like forever.)

Hurricanes, storms. floods,  Get some aptients Hurricane sandy - it takes forever...and don't jump in line, please

Pay attention, Jersey Shore. Hurricane Ike was 2008 and it’s now 2014. Have patience. Be persistent. And do not try to jump in line!

After weeks of grey dreary – frigid weather, sun!

And 70 degrees. Get out the short sleeves. Grab the leash

Time to inspect the progress from the partially opened trails.

headed back

Yes the trail are wide. It’s gator country. And they have to be somewhere…sleeping and sluggish enjoying the warm sun.

Quick. Before the March of the Gators begins.

Spring makes them wander.

Looking to party…and a snack or two.

more pinks!

More pinks!

Wandering back from the bay to the car, we once again passed the elusive pink guys and the paparazzi.

This time Molly assumed we paused so she could wander over and chat with the pink guys about their journey.

Luckily she was on leash and it isn’t too long.

But photographers were annoyed as the grass rustled and swayed.

Hey, the birds didn’t even notice.

anyone home? too much silt

Anyone home?

They did a good job replanting here.

Looks like natural vegetation.

Still some channel work or watching going on. (Orange stakes along the main flow channel.)

bird sunning

Hey, you’ve got a bird’s-eye view, see any gators? Where are they?

Even in winter, Pine Gully is a favorite spot for deer, other wildlife and birds to meet, greet, and eat.

Tucked warmly under palm foot. Guarded by cane and thick brush, the wetlands’ grocery store is never really bare.

early spring ? 6-8 weeks, but the bees are grateful

Hey. Hey. Over here! Special request for honey bees.

Appreciate the nice dry trail where before it was soggy so much of the time.

But gators? Gone? 

time to head back - no gators gone?

Time to head back.

Wait?  What’s this? Unreported alien landing?

NASA has lost that much funding?

Or simply preparing for the new trend of private industry reusable space launch sites appearing here and there?

It’s a race track. A hiking super highway!

hey what's this? No wonder the gators are cranky. It's a new birm - but no brush!...much wider chanel between the people side and the bird/wildlife banks

Hey what’s this? No wonder the gators are cranky. No hiding spots! Everyone likes private spaces.

The new tall berm is part of the flood control plan.

Every biker, every stroller, every jogger, every kid, and all the dogs in the world  are taking advantage of the wide open track.

Pine Gully’s narrow waterway has been widened. (But still curves and swoops. Not concreted.)

Those cranes on the opposite bramble-covered bank much happier with the wide distance separating the species.

The water fowl seem to love the new available water real estate..and the lack of hiding foliage for predators.

No comfort zone for gators here…yet.

The huge wide berm barren.

Gators sulking in waterway elbows and bends.

Their union reps slapping their tails asking “OK. We relocated as requested. Now finish up as agreed.”

Natural landscaping needs a little assist.

No doubt replanting native vegetation is scheduled.

Now’s the time, before the gators start their annual scheduled spring rambles.

A wide open road like this might encourage gator drag races?

Guess we’ll see ya’ later, gators.

Phil the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.

Gotta have more gators?  Just click “alligators” in the sidebar. Or try

Another posts about Pine Gully here.“End of the campaign. End of the trail.” (Oct.2012. Pictures of Pine Gully’s old entrance into Galveston bay)

Well, hope htey get the forest trail done by June- I'll never get staff on a barren march when it's hot! My tail was so cool and shady. I'm with you gators. Certainly uncomfortable here now!

I’m with you gators. It’s a desert march right now. Got a spare bottle of water?

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27 Comments

  1. coolron33 / Jan 15 2014 2:32 pm

    Great photos, thanks for sharing them.

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jan 15 2014 2:54 pm

      Someday I’ll take the real camera. This was a quick trip in very bright sun. Felt better that the expert photographers were struggling to capture the pink guys. Thanks for flying in to chat

      Like

  2. susielindau / Jan 15 2014 2:46 pm

    What a great trail even if you didn’t see any gators!

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jan 15 2014 3:03 pm

      It was a beautiful day.The gators were lurking somewhere…probably back where the trail is still blocked off. Gators, who like sun as much as anyone, were probably checking out the dirt loaders and big machinery to see if they might work as transport to Spring Breaks Gator Fest. Thanks for sauntering along

      Like

      • susielindau / Jan 15 2014 3:26 pm

        Oto ooh! That would not be good for some college kid…:)

        Like

  3. shoreacres / Jan 15 2014 4:12 pm

    Where’s the trail? Is this in Pine Gully, or did you start there on the main road where everything’s been cleared off? or elsewhere? I was out at Maas last week and couldn’t figure out what was open – whether to head north or south.

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jan 15 2014 4:27 pm

      The entrance by the gazebo parking is open. The path opposite Maas is still there. West of the walking bridge down the trail a bit still closed. Still large machines/equipment at the edge of the park at the mouth. (which is building quite a beach on both sides of the rocks – more crowds this summer). There’s supposed to be a woodlands trail parallel to the berm…or that was the original plan. Hope so. That shady path was really great in the summer.
      It looks to me like the machines are sitting on that little “historical site” that was by the road’s bridge. Hope they redo it – there was a little story there.
      Lots of people checking it all out…one middle size kid down from bike crash….he barreled past us twice. Only a scrape, but we think he refused to get back on bike – dad gave in and went to get car.
      Enjoy the sun! Thanks for stopping by

      Like

  4. angelswhisper2011 / Jan 15 2014 4:34 pm

    Loved the tour, Molly. I specially loved the humour you brought in again…I guess the birdie is still looking 😀 Pawkiss 🙂

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jan 15 2014 9:00 pm

      Silly bird – think he was napping in the sun instead of being a lookout. Sounds like a good idea.Molly Muddy Paws is snoozing in a sun puddle right now – it’s cooler, but sun is so nice after such a long stretch of grey days. Thanks for hiking along

      Like

  5. Robin / Jan 15 2014 8:25 pm

    Looks like a beautiful place, and a beautiful day. 🙂

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jan 15 2014 9:04 pm

      A little sun certain brought out the people and pets. Nice to see so many people so happy! Thanks for wandering along

      Like

  6. PiedType / Jan 15 2014 8:45 pm

    Love the grasses in the “Anyone home?” shot. I’m always amazed at the color that appears in a photo of seemingly drab grass. So happy to hear your trail is opening up again for you and The Molly.

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jan 15 2014 9:07 pm

      The colors this time of year are so subtle, but still very beautiful. It’s so nice to see some sun again. Thanks for shining up a comment to leave

      Like

  7. Kourtney Heintz / Jan 15 2014 10:41 pm

    Cool trail. Was it that isolated or did you just manage to avoid getting people in your shots. It’s gorgeous. Kinda glad you didn’t encounter gators. 🙂

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jan 15 2014 11:56 pm

      This trail has such interesting environments. We thought it was pretty crowded – but it’s a big space with lots of room – and most people are congenial – event he kids seem to have good manners.
      We stayed out of the dark shade with tall grasses – the gators are napping somewhere. There’s a reason the trail is wide with mowed edges. Gators are pretty shy and avoid people most of the time, but wouldn’t like to step on one and startle it! Thanks for hiking over

      Like

  8. Sun / Jan 16 2014 1:42 am

    i had a hard time getting down to the end of this post after the first funny hit: “Shunning their leaves. Tree nudists dancing in the warming sun.” HHHHAAAAHHHAAA!!! 😆
    maybe the gators were off doing the same but in a reclusive hide out spot.
    thanks for the fun walk, Philmouse and Molly 🙂

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jan 16 2014 6:44 pm

      Those trees were just having too much fun in the sun! Thanks for dancing down the trail

      Like

      • Sun / Jan 17 2014 4:49 am

        🙂

        Like

  9. roughseasinthemed / Jan 16 2014 9:16 am

    Hey Molly, Snows wants to come and check out that walk with you. He need the big dog too for protection though, but Pippa walks a bit slowly for energetic young dogs. Seems like a load of work has been done there over the years. Maybe this time the humans will get it right? Paw waves.

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jan 16 2014 6:51 pm

      Locals really like Pine Gully try to protect it. It was all going pretty well, until the container port got approved. Those who canoe and kayak are really upset with the water levels. Sometime I’ll take pix of the 5 cargo cranes you can see towering beyond the trees – but usually I like to pretend we are away from civilization when there. Molly says Snow is welcome – with a secure harness and leash…he might look to much like a gator snack! A doggy snore from napping Molly. But thanks from staff

      Like

  10. Ally Bean / Jan 16 2014 6:24 pm

    Beautiful photos. I like accompanying other bloggers on their walks. Especially when a dog is involved.

    Like

  11. jmmcdowell / Jan 17 2014 12:41 am

    I love the Roseate Spoonbills—that color and those bills are such a combination. 🙂 I’m glad to hear the company is being responsible and repairing the damage that was done to the environment. And maybe the Corps will learn something from the experience…. Well, we can dream, right?

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jan 17 2014 2:37 pm

      The Corp is pretty focused on flood prevention and shipping lanes here. So many agencies have authority over the marshes and waterways, it really confuses the issues – and environmentalist groups have to struggle with so many groups. We are a bit concerned about the deepening and widening of the ship channel to allow the new group of monster-sized ships that are expected to start using the Port of Houston (if you think that the ships now are already giants, this newest groups…) The wakes will be larger, too. The corps is working from modeling, but reality could be different. The dredging spoils may be used to create islands that could act as barriers and new wetlands, but will destroy some favorite fishing areas and create more obstacles for sailing. Mother Nature may have the final say, anyway?
      Seeing the pinks soar in is such a piece of whimsy. PINK! We get spoonbills and ibis (I think, with narrow down turned bills). Most places have school kids study birds in spring – our look at birds in Jan-Feb when they all are here. Right now Molly is perturbed with a very large cardinal male singing loudly. Apparently that song isn’t on her play list? Thanks for singing along

      Like

  12. jannatwrites / Jan 17 2014 4:21 am

    I’m glad they are building the area back up and fixing the damage that was done. Looks like a nice trail… but it does look like Molly could use some water!

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jan 17 2014 2:20 pm

      We do hope they get the shady woodlands trail done by late spring – that was one of the few places we could hike in the summer without broiling. Molly generally goes through 2 water bottles a mild day.There’s a dog water fountain at each end of the trail, but she thinks the bucket looks too weird. Glad you hiked along

      Like

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