Thursday, September 11, 2008

Vacation Interrupted

On Monday we went down to Surfside, where we had rented a beach house for four days. It was perfect weather and the location was great for fishing (for my daughter's partner, Jose-Luis) and birding (for me). The first afternoon, we sat on the deck watching Willets and Laughing Gulls arguing on the beach as a Reddish Egret hunted in the surf. Jose-Luis was thrilled to catch a small Hammerhead Shark.

Jose-Luis enjoying Surfside beach ...

while a Reddish Egret fished a few yards away

The next day, I drove to Brazoria for dawn to do some early-morning birding. Most of the refuge's ponds were dry but there were still enough birds to make the trip worthwhile. Amazingly, there were absolutely no mosquitoes, a first for Brazoria. It was particularly good to see large numbers of adult and juvenile Black-crowned Night Herons, mixed in with Roseate Spoonbills, Black-necked Stilts and various Egrets.

Dawn at Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge

Black-crowned Night Heron and Roseate Spoonbill

Killdeer in the early morning light

Later in the morning, I drove along the beach at Surfside and was rewarded with great views of shorebirds, including American Oystercatchers, Willets, Black-bellied Plovers and Ruddy Turnstones. Gulls and terns were plentiful, as were Brown Pelicans (including a couple which were mating).

Black-bellied Plover

American Oystercatcher


Brown Pelicans

In the afternoon, Jose-Luis continued, encouraged by having caught a second, larger shark. The rest of us went to Brazoria, where my daughter Emma saw her first Roseate Spoonbills.

Great Egret at Brazoria

Roseate Spoonbills (with White Ibis and Snowy Egrets)

Our visit ended well when Emma spotted a young coyote wandering among the flowers by the side of the exit road.

We all woke up on Wednesday looking forward to more beautiful days in Surfside, which Jose-Luis had decided was "paradise." Unfortunately, Hurricane Ike intervened: A mandatory evacuation order was issued and we had to pack up and leave at 10:00 a.m. So much for paradise!

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