This is part of a very large flock of Black Skimmers. They form large colonies during the non-breeding season. Every day this flock of about 200 birds can be found at the same spot on the beach. They are strange looking birds, almost the size of a herring gull, but with a large red-orange/black beak. The lower bill is substantially longer than the upper. It feeds by flying close to the water and dragging its lower bill in the water. When it encounters a small fish the top beak closes down sharply catching the fish. Seems like a tough way to make a living.
These little mud volcanoes are the openings of the extensive communal burrows of the crustaceans known as ghost shrimp in the intertidal zone on the beach. They are evidently fairly deep and complex, about 3 - 4 feet down. We tried to dig them out but didn't have any luck finding the critters.
Finally a photo of our camping spot, and a map of southern Louisiana. Grand Isle is certainly way down the bayou in Cajun land.
Toward the back of the Casita are the vegetated dunes and beyond that a very wide and shallow beach. Today the park is sparsely occupied and very quiet. During Mardi Gras there were more visitors because of local school vacations, but still not full. Although it is pleasant weather, a little chilly at night, this is definitely the off-season.
Tomorrow morning we're visiting New Orleans, then moving on to Davis Bayou, MS of the Gulf Islands National Seashore