Wednesday, January 11, 2006

News from the Texas Coast, part 2

Texas was at one time a populist state, and as a consequence of this we still have socialist beaches. Everything between the ocean and the line of vegetation beyond the high tide mark is public property. Consequently, every storm moves the property line a few feet towards Canada (or in the case of a major hurricane, many yards.) Hurricane Rita put a good many beach houses on the upper Texas coast on public land, or strictly speaking, put public land under the beach houses.

The State of Texas, strangely enough in such a Republican part of the world, zealously enforces its property rights against the unlucky beach house owners. The vacation home below, one of a dozen or so on this stretch of beach in the little town of Surfside, is not being repaired because it is now parked on the public right of way, and the Texas General Land Office won't allow repairs. It will be torn down, with no compensation to its owners. This seems harsh, and there has been some grumbling, but on the other hand, every landowner near the ocean has known since the 1890s that this is a peril of seaside living in Texas.

Damaged house, now on the public beach

This business, which I think was a boat-repair shop, is not on the beach, but is fifty yards from a muddy back bay. Doesn't look like it's being rebuilt.

The birds, however, are going about business as usual. These white ibises are enjoying the low-tide mud near the destroyed business above

Here is a snowy egret in the surf (I had another photo of this bird in Texas Coast pt. 1)

This snowy egret which was working the edge of a marina has just caught a fish and is trying to get it aimed in the right direction to be swallowed, which it very soon was

A brown pelican, a ring billed gull, and a royal tern resting in the sun on this unusually warm early January day

A few miles inland, an eastern bluebird

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