Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sunday at Brazos Bend: Part 2

For some reason, we have always overlooked Creekfield Lake on our many previous visits to Brazos Bend State Park.

However, we spent an hour there on Sunday morning and were so impressed that we have now decided to make it (rather than 40 Acre Lake) our normal starting point for future visits to the park.

Creekfield Lake

Our main purpose in visiting Creekfield was to see if we could spot the family of Least Grebes that has been living there. We couldn't have been luckier. The Grebes were on the very first section of the lake that we reached - and they stayed within 20 feet of us for the next 15 minutes. Is this what heaven will be like for birders?

One of the parents

Four of the chicks

Both parents spent a lot of time diving to bring up food for their young. As soon as the parents surfaced, four of the chicks would rush over and beg for food.

We noticed that one chick was hanging back and was not getting anything to eat. One of the parents noticed this, swam over to the chick and started feeding it.

We were surprised to see that one of the tidbits was a dragonfly.

When we finally tore ourselves away from the Grebes, we hadn't gone more than ten yards before we came upon this Yellow-crowned Night Heron.

Further along, we walked out onto a small pier and watched this male Common Moorhen strutting his stuff and constantly calling out.

The trees near the pier were very busy with Tufted Titmice, Downy Woodpeckers, Carolina Chickadees, American Crows and a Carolina Wren. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get any photos.

I was unlucky with this alligator, too. Just a moment before we reached it, some French visitors saw it snap up a large turtle.

The islands and reeds in the middle of the lake held numbers of Common Moorhens, White Ibis, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks and Mottled Ducks.

We were fascinated to see these young Whistling Ducks feeding by sweeping their bills from side as they swam, in the same way that American Avocets and Roseate Spoonbills feed.

As we walked back to where we had watched the Least Grebes, I was startled by a young deer that popped its head up only 8 feet away from me. The fawn was even more startled and instantly disappeared into the reeds. A few yards down the path, its sibling was much less concerned about our presence.

Our final sightings were this frog ...

and a young Whistling Duck that left me take photos from only 3-4 yards.

We wound up our visit with a very quick look-in at Elm Lake. A dozen White Ibis were grazing near the path.

The trees in the lake were covered in Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, a fitting end to any visit to BBSP.

We were very surprised to leave the park without having seen a single egret. (I had thought that it was impossible to visit any lake or even small pond in southeast Texas without seeing at least a Great Egret.) However, as we passed the George Ranch on our drive home, we saw a group of 6-8 trees that were literally covered in egrets.
We weren't able to stop to count or photograph the birds, but I would guess they were Cattle Egrets and I would estimate their number at well over a thousand.


T Shaughnessy said...

Looks like a nice productive day at BB. Reptiles included.

Regarding egrets, I though of you Monday night. I was visiting the library at Cy Fair College and while waiting at the stop light at West Rd to turn into the campus I was counting multiple groups of 10 or more Cattle Egrets. There had to be at least a few hundred birds flying West to East. By the time I parked near the library and walked towards the entrance they were still flowing. I stood and watched for at least 5 minutes while they flew over, wondering where they were coming from and where they were headed. In total I'm guessing 1000's. They were flying directly over the campus too. All about 7:00PM.

Jeff said...

There seem to be lots and lots of Cattle Egrets flying around Cypress in the late afternoon and evening. I haven't seen the numbers you did, though.