Saturday, December 17, 2005

Winter Birds on South Padre

Fig. 1. Mottled Bucyrus Erie Crane. It's a 1960 Model 25-B.

We’ve seen a few in the past, but the recent flock of cranes on the Island is quite impressive. Being so large, they have difficulty hiding in the brush. You may have seen large birds like the Roseate Spoonbill or the Great Heron or some real cranes like the Whooping Crane or the Sandhill Crane (real rare here), but the strange thing is that all bird lovers hate this kind of crane – in this case the Mottled Bucyrus Erie.

And they seem to be multiplying and Lord love a duck, evolving into towering sky cranes! Here's a couple caught 'in delictico.'

Fig. 2. Two Cranes Mating. Aren't they cute?

What kind of biological niche do these despised cranes inhabit? Well, they are mainly used for installing pylons in the dirt for hurricane protection for coastal homes. These pylons are blasted 12 to 20 feet in the dirt and then connected to the concrete slab so the hurricanes don’t blow the houses and structures out by the roots. “Hey honey, the house got nailed bad but heck, we still got those pylons in the ground and a good slab, yeehaw!”

See, the pylons are pretty useless unless they extend to the second story or higher. Our house was built with telephone poles in 1970 using the old style where the bottom level was a garage and the upper level was living area. In effect, the bottom was a “blow out zone” in the flood zone so why try to tame Mama Nature? So the telephone poles are tied down to the sill plate on the second floor. The new houses though, are not – and why I cannot figure. Their pylons stop at ground zero.

Fig. 3. Red Cockaded Link Belt Crane. Nice rack on this baby!

But I digress. And don’t get me wrong, I’m all for people making money and building a nice house and doing construction. It is just that our new flock of South Padre Cranes is a little overwhelming.


sandy feet said...

There was a siting on Saturn not long about - these are some noisy birds, let me tell you. I expect it to return here very soon as a new set of concrete pylons was poured jsut a few days back - that activity seems to attract the critters.

Seriously, I was looking at them pounding those pylons and wondering what the heck purpose they could serve, cut off like that at ground zero. Perhaps one of our happy developer friends could take the time to explain the concept to simple minds like us, Sammy.

Sam said...

I agree, sf, and I'm not going to second guess them aside from the fact that right on the beachfront the sand can be eroded bad (Dewey says he actually saw a beachfront Condo perched up on those pylons after a bad one but with no problems or cracks - and I don't doubt it).

Corpus Christi has a building code that says the roof ridge needs to be connected by steel, wood piling, or concrete beam all the way to and through "ground zero." Maybe I missed something here?

Mystified, but let me leave you with one last comment. For houses built on uncompacted sand 5-7 feet above grade, you probably need those big pylons in the ground. What maybe happens is that the sand (some taken from your dunes, sf) becomes like Ketchup when saturated - the word is thixotropic I think. So without the pylons, it's floating on a sea of slippery mud, sand, and seaweed. /sw

beerman said...

From the about of rebar we have seen extending from the poured piers I was assuming they would be tied onto and extended. The piers poured lying on the sand are quite ugly and irregular. To get a good bond you have to rough up the existing concrete and expose the aggregate. They they could form them nice and true to continue up.
Just my guess, we sat on our bikes and watched a few being driven during Candcastle days.


Everett said...

Hi Sam, Saw a couple of the offspring of your type cranes up here a couple of weeks ago. They had evolved into the type that have round black feet and a neck that is retractable so far it almost disappears into their nether regions. They were hanging about down at the Old Harbor and it looked like they were getting a head start on building their nest, Made out of Metal yet?

Sam said...

THese cranes are worse than teenagers on a hot Friday night! Why I was just walking the dogs down by the bayside and here comes a crane on a barge, pushed by a tugboat. Have they no discretion or morals or compunction? Who decided to let cranes on a joy ride on the water?

It must be because they're always having erections....

Everett said...

You got me there! Laughed out loud, damn kids and their mating displays!