Yesterday I dropped in for an hour at Baytown Nature Center on a very gray and cold morning.
Surrounded as it is by chemical and oil plants, Baytown is not the most beautiful site in our area but it can have some good birds.
The visit started well with several birds on or around the very first pond that I reached. A Great Egret and a Snowy Egret were happily fishing the water's edge together, while another Great Egret looked on and a Great Blue Heron was crisscrossing the water further out in the pond.
A Belted Kingfisher was busy in the same area but, in typical Kingfisher fashion, it protested loudly and flew further away every time I approached.
The most exciting birds on the pond were a group of Hooded Mergansers. If there is a more spectacular duck, I don't know what it is!
The group was accompanied by a solitary Bufflehead, looking very unremarkable next to the Mergansers.
As I watched, a Northern Harrier swooped across the pond and I managed to get a quick photo as it flew off, its white rump distinctive even in the poor light.
As I walked the main trail out to Wooster's Point, surprisingly few birds were in evidence, except for more Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons and Belted Kingfishers.
I came across a Red-shouldered Hawk and an Osprey but both birds flew off before I could photograph them. Several spotted Sandpipers, Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet were equally skittish. In the end, the only other birds I managed to photograph was a Savannah Sparrow and some Double-crested Cormorants.
So not a great morning's birding but certainly made worthwhile by the appearance of the Hooded Mergansers.
Later in the day, I drove down our street in the rain to find that the trees were absolutely packed with birds: Hundreds of White-winged Doves and scores of Cedar Waxwings.