Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Very Good Day!

We had a very good day's outing yesterday: Good company, mild weather, excellent birding, beautiful landscapes and no mosquitoes. What more could you ask for?

Sheldon Reservoir
We started by meeting up with Carlos and Macarena Aguilar on a cool, gray morning at Sheldon Lake/Reservoir. The Carpenter's Bayou end of the lake had some nesting activity (mainly Great Egrets, Night Herons, Anhingas, White Ibis) and a nice variety of the larger wading birds. Snags in the bayou were occupied by Great Blue Herons, Anhingas and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, while Barn Swallows swooped around the Garrett Road bridge and a large flock of Neotropic Cormorants flew in and settled on the lake. Meanwhile Common Moorhens and a young Little Blue Heron meandered among the waterlily pads.

Carlos' Photo of a Young Little Blue Heron

The fishing jetty on Fauna Road had more Whistling Ducks, plus a Red-tailed Hawk, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Red-winged Blackbirds, Great Egrets and Cedar Waxwings.

The ponds at the Environmental Center had a couple of alligators as well as a nice group of herons' and egrets' nests.

Anole at the Environmental Center

Waterlilies were much in evidence.

Baytown Nature Center

At noon we drove over to the Baytown Nature Center and had a picnic lunch in the butterfly garden. It was now warm and sunny, and lunchtime entertainment was provided by a Common Loon and several terns.

Carlos and Macarena

Then we walked the peninsula trail, stopping frequently to admire the flowers, butterflies and birds that lined the pathway. Brown Pelicans patrolled the channel, while Ospreys and Laughing Gulls circled overhead. Ponds by the trail were busy with Great and Tricolored Egrets, Tricolored Herons, Blue-winged Teal, Mottled Duck, Killdeer, Willets, Black-necked Stilts, Lesser Yellowlegs and Roseate Spoonbills.

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

White Ibis

Great Egret

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Tricolored Heron


Lesser Yellowlegs

We were all struck by how beautifully nature has managed to reclaim this housing subdivision, abandoned 20+ years ago because of hurricane damage. Flowers are everywhere and they attract lots of butterflies, bees and other insects.

Indian Blanket

Sulphur Butterfly

Birding Total

For a relaxed few hours of birding, we saw a very good range of species: 28 at Sheldon, 30 at Baytown and 45 overall. My year list moved to 160 with the addition of Common Loon, Yellow-crowned Night Heron and Marbled Godwit.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Bear Creek Park

Bear Creek Park was looking beautiful and was busy with common birds Sunday morning. I didn't spot any warblers but I was delighted to see and hear my first White-eyed Vireo of the year.

The resident Eastern Bluebirds were much in evidence.

Eastern Bluebird

The inside corner of Golbow where the road turns south - always great for woodpeckers - had many Red-headed Woodpeckers. At one point, I had five in view at the same time.

Red-headed Woodpecker

I managed to get some reasonable video. If it's wobbly, it's partly because, while I was filming one Red-headed, the tree I was leaning against was vibrating from the drumming of another.

The same area had a Barred Owl, the first owl I've ever seen at Bear Creek, although I imagine there must be quite a population in the park.

Barred Owl

My "goodbye birds" were a pair of Broad-winged Hawks, which circled overhead.

Broad-winged Hawk

The hawks brought my 2008 bird list to 154 species. Cliff Swallows flying under the 290 flyover at Huffmeister raised the total to 155.