« The Passionate Gardener | Main | Engines Thrumming »

The Beach in January

I had business in southern Alabama this week. Lou accompanied me, and we decided to drive on down to Gulf Shores and spend the night at the beach. Our beachfront condo had great views:

We enjoyed panoramic views. We could see not only the Gulf of Mexico but also the Intracoastal Waterway that separates the coastal city of Gulf Shores, Alabama, from the mainland. Charming cottages and condos occupy the area.

There had been a recent storm, but the day we were there, the Gulf was calm with the water gently lapping at the shore:

There were some dramatic shadows created by fencing that had been blown over by high wind:

This American flag on the beach reminded me of the famous "One small step" moonscape photo with astronaut Neil Armstrong.The sun was shining, but the air was cold enough for coats. So what does one do at the beach in January?

Hunt for seashells; many were washed up by the storm:

How about some extreme kite flying?

This man was flying a drone:

Fishing is always popular:

Did you see the Grey Heron? (In many of these photos his feathers have a golden glow from the sun as it is setting.) We were amazed at how tame he was as he posed for me and others. He seemed to be a part of the fishermen's community and stayed in the same place for almost an hour!

The heron was very territorial and would chase other birds away from his spot. As the sun sank into the horizon and the fishermen began to pack up to leave, we discovered why. They gave the heron their leftover bait! Apparently this was something the heron was accustomed to. When the last fisherman left, so did the heron.

Sunsets at the beach are always beautiful.

The next morning we wakened to more splendor as the horizon was once again flushed with color, this time from the sunrise:

Another day, and too soon it was time for us to leave. Before heading home, however, we drove over to Mobile Bay, where we saw the big platforms that are used for drilling for natural gas.

We also saw some dramatic colonies of sea oats.

Finally, we turned north. This had been a quick trip, a last minute decision. We met people visiting Gulf Shores from as far away as Wisconsin and Michigan and Texas. We are fortunate to be less than four hours from this great beach. It had been an unexpectedly delightful winter pick-me-up, and now we want to do it again!

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (24)

Dear Deb, sounds and looks like you and your husband had a wonderful time at the beach! I don't know what it is about beaches but visiting them always lifts my spirits. Love your photos of the old broken down fences and the shadows they are creating. Very artistic!
Warm regards,

January 30, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterchristina

If only our Pacific Ocean shined like that under crystal blue skies! I look out at a gray-brown haze over the LA harbor most mornings. With the reduced rainfall (we're still running below "normal" in southern California, despite El Nino), our skies haven't been scrubbed clean this winter.

I love your shots of the heron! He's a majestic creature, even if a bit of an opportunist.

January 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKris P

Stunning photos, love the heron and the sunsets and sunrise, so beautiful. What a sensible heron, waiting for the fishermen's leftovers, who says birds don't have brains!

January 31, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPauline

Loved your shots of this wonderful part of the world...Welcome to the new year.

January 31, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie@Seattle Trekker

Beautiful place and images, Deb. I love that heron just leisurely enjoying the day. You must have had a great time waking up to that beautiful sunrise. Those drones bug me though. I was driving and one was following along the highway. They are everywhere.

January 31, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

I enjoyed your beautiful photography of the wildlife and happenings at the beach and breathtaking sunset. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us!

Deb what a treat to see your shore....and I loved that heron fishing with the humans! I never heard of extreme kite flying but it is interesting. So many wonderful views especially the desolate beach scenes.

January 31, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDonna@Gardens Eye View

Beautiful shots Deb.

January 31, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Good to see the heron is 'part of the family'

January 31, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Studer

I'll echo the other commentators in praising your heron pics.

You've done a great job capturing the overall ambiance of the beach and its beautiful sunrises and sunsets!

January 31, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAaron Dalton

Yes, the heron shots and the fences with the shadows are stunning images! My sister and her family have frequently vacationed at Gulf Shores and really enjoyed it. We have yet to visit there, but it sounds like a dreamy locale. The views from your condo were amazing!

January 31, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBeth @ Plantpostings

I'm a big fan of sunrise at the beach. This looks like a wonderfully peaceful place for a winter getaway.

January 31, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJean

Wonderful images Deb. Imagine, all those tiretracks on the moon ...

February 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

I love the beach in winter; the ocean looks so blue and beautiful, you've made me want to go to the beach too!

February 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

Oh Deb! This was just such a wonderful and uplifting post with drop dead gorgeous photography!! I had just come back from walking the dogs and I was thinking what a fantastic day it was and how great it would be to go to the beach - well you just took me right there! I am embarrassed to say I have never visited Gulf Shores but everyone tells me it is lovely, as is the Panhandle of Florida too. So now I absolutely have to go. The pictures of the sunset and sunrise were really amazing. I'm so glad you got to go on a trip so you could bring us these lovely photos! Please feel free to go again so we can see more! Haha!
- Kate

February 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKate R

It was a winter pick-me-up for me too! What a beautiful place - your photos of it are wonderful and give a real sense of place - of the people using the beach and the wise heron. Absolutely lovely!

February 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Shoesmith

Did you find any really great shells? I live 45 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean yet I seldom go and I never find any really great shells. I do, however, find a walk on the beach soothing. Maybe I should schedule a walk in the near future.

February 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

What a beautiful location to spend some time Deb, and gorgeous photographs. I live right on the coast, and love our local beaches, but we have nothing quite like that enormous stretch of white sand and the view of Mexico!

Love the heron too, one of my favourite birds, so elegant, whether stood still mimicking one of those plastic ones you use to protect your fish in your pond or when flying - we have a pair nesting in the river valley, and often see one gliding down to the beach for a snack.

February 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJanet/Plantaliscious

What a beautiful sunrise and sunset! A winter day at the beach is fun. We go occasionally and have seen dolphins and many species of overwintering birds.

February 2, 2016 | Unregistered Commentersweetbay

PS That heron really has it made! No wonder he defends his territory.

February 2, 2016 | Unregistered Commentersweetbay

I love visiting the beach in winter. Your photos are stunning and the heron was spectacular!

February 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKarin/Southern Meadows

I love visiting the beach in winter. So peaceful and beautiful. You took some fabulous pictures, especially the gray heron and the sunset.

February 3, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterjason

Oh how beautiful! And what a fun thing to do in winter! That is one smart heron! I could stay at a beach and watch the birds for hours. Water birds are so different, digging in sand or swooping into the water for food.

February 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterIndie

If I was less than an hour away from this lovely spot, it would be hard to keep me away!

February 9, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRobin

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>