Who'd ever have thought that a housing subdivision surrounded by oil refineries and petrochemical plants and abandoned after being swamped by hurricanes could become a jewel of a nature reserve. Yet that's exactly what has happened with the Baytown Nature Center.
We were there yesterday with our friends Macarena and Carlos Aguilar, and we were all struck by how beautiful the site is, as well as by how few visitors it seems to attract.
It has recovered well from the damage it sustained from Hurricane Ike, and this summer's drought appears to have had less effect here than at some other reserves.
It's true that the number of birds was down from our previous visits but there were still enough to keep us occupied. As usual, Osprey, White Ibis, Great Blue Heron and other large birds posed dramatically in trees and atop snags.
Although mosquitoes were very active on our walk around the peninsula, we escaped them when we climbed up to the Pavilion.
So we had our picnic lunch up there, fanned by a cool breeze and entertained by several Great Egrets and Roseate Spoonbills fishing the waters below us.
Our bird list for the morning was: Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, Osprey, Turkey Vulture, Laughing Gulls, Double-crested Cormorant, Brown Pelican, Great Blue Herons, Yellow-crowned Night Herons, Tricolored Heron, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbills, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Reddish Egret, Belted Kingfisher and Loggerhead Shrike.