Tuesday, March 17, 2009

San Bernard in the Rain

After the disappointment of our cancelled Whooping Crane cruise, we made the best of our drive back to Houston by stopping off at San Bernard NWR. Unfortunately, while birds were very plentiful, the driving rain made it difficult to see them and even harder to take photos!

We had good views of a Bald Eagle but the photos didn't turn out so well.

This Great Blue Heron was kind enough to let us watch him from only a couple of yards away.

This Cattle Egret was our first of the year.

We had good views of a Crested Caracara and an American Bittern, but photos were impossible.

The road was busy with groups of American pipits. There lots of Savannah Sparrows also ...

but most of the time they were only dimly visible through the windshield wipers.

Barn Swallows constantly circled our car, often only inches away. Meanwhile, our first Tree Swallows of the year swooped over the water or sat in rows on branches.

While Dee had a snack lunch in the car, I braved the Bobcat boardwalk in pouring rain.

I was rewarded with extremely blurry views of Swamp Sparrows.

Behind Bobcat Woods, I was surprised to see that the lakes had been outfitted with an observation platform and a covered picnic area. The lakes themselves were busy with Great Blue Herons, American Coots and other wading and water birds, but I was already too wet to enjoy them.

In spite of the weather, we enjoyed our brief visit. (It isn't every day you get good views of a Bald Eagle.) We'll certainly be heading back to San Bernard before long.

Trip Totals
In spite of the weather, we enjoyed the trip and saw 50-60 species. The only lifer was Whooping Crane but we also had 8 new-for-the-year species: Redhead, Osprey, Glossy Ibis, Northern Parula, Barn Swallow, Cattle Egret, Sanderling and Black-bellied Plover. This takes my 2009 list to 154.


Isaac said...

There's just something about bald eagles.

Jeff said...

There certainly is! Before I became a birder, the only two birds that I really wanted to see in the US were the Greater Roadrunner (because of the cartoons) and the Bald Eagle.

Kyle said...

Wow, what a difference a day makes! I took a day off on Monday and headed for San Bernard, arriving just as the fog burned off. It was a gloriously beautiful day and I got quite a few decent pictures (some are posted on my blog now, others will be there soon) -- but I missed the Bald Eagle!! Didn't see any cranes, caracaras or osprey either, for that matter, although I did get some good looks at American Bitterns and an actively-fishing Belted Kingfisher.

You got some nice pictures in spite of the rain, and it sounds like y'all had a pretty fun outing!

Jeff said...

It was a good visit, Kyle, but would have been much better if it had just stopped raining for, say, half-an-hour!