It really annoys me how so many wildlife sites have fanciful and misleading names: "Bobcat Woods," "Alligator Nest Pond," "Armadillo Trail," "Warbler Walk," etc. Just about the only thing you can be sure of in these places is that you won't see any of the animals mentioned in the sites' names. It's rather like the way many housing subdivisions have names that are either totally inappropriate (e.g., "Rocky Glen Drive" in totally flat Cypress) or that describe landscape features (e.g., "Oak Lane"or "Prairie Way") which were probably destroyed to make way for the subdivisions.
I mention this to explain the frame of mind I was in the other morning when I parked outside Bobcat Woods on the San Bernard NWR.
I got out of the car and walked towards the woods. A cat crossed the trail ahead and slipped under a fence rail. A domestic cat, of course. Or was it? I walked over to the fence and looked down. Five feet away, a bobcat looked up at me. We stared at each other for several seconds. Then I broke the spell by reaching for my camera, and the bobcat trotted off through the vegetation.
I will never complain about misleading signs at San Bernard again - even though I didn't see a single Water Moccasin at Moccasin Pond or a single Rail at Rail Pond!
San Bernard NWR
San Bernard was my first stop on a long birding drive I was doing and it was not at all productive in terms of birds.
The entrance road had a Loggerhead Shrike and a pair of Turkey Vultures.
Otherwise, all I saw were a couple of wading birds and a lot of Red-winged Blackbirds and Great-tailed Grackles.
After 45 minutes, I decided to press on to my second destination.
Brazoria is one of my favorite sites but on this particular day it, too, was extremely quiet. A couple of alligators were lazing in the water.
The largest concentration of birds I saw was a group of twenty White Ibis and Roseate Spoonbills.
Disappointed by the lack of birds at the two marshland refuges, I decided to try a very different type of site: the beach at Surfside.
Unlike the other two sites, this one was very busy. Unfortunately, though, the busyness was due to people and cars rather than birds. A brief drive along the beach revealed only Willets, Sanderlings and Ruddy Turnstones and so I left the coast and headed north.
Brazos Bend SP
I didn't reach Brazos Bend State Park until early afternoon, the very worst time for wildlife viewing. However, as always at this great site, there was still plenty to see.
Yellow-crowned Night Herons were everywhere, some with impressively long plumes on their heads.
Anhingas and Common Moorhens were very much in evidence, too.
This Purple Gallinule was one of four I saw in about as many minutes at 40-Acre Lake.
Given that I'd started the day with seeing a bobcat, it seemed appropriate that my final sighting should be of another mammal: a raccoon exploring the edge of Elm Lake.
The Purple Gallinules took my year list to 207 species.