When I managed to take a few hours' comp time to do some birding, I decided to drive over to the Attwater Prairie Chicken Refuge, some 60 miles west of Houston. My main aim was to look for Northern Bobwhites, birds I have seen only a few times and which I've never been able to get a good photo of. I though, too, that I might get some photos of Dickcissels, another species that I don't often see but that is common at Attwater.
Sure enough, the entrance road was lined with a dozen Dickcissels. However, they either disappeared as soon as I stopped the car or else were perched too far away for good photos. Scissor-tailed Flycatchers were much more obliging.
The entrance road also had a Crested Caracara, another very common bird at this refuge.
On the auto-loop, there were black butterflies everywhere.
Birds were rare except for Mourning Doves, Red-winged Blackbirds, more Caracaras and a beautiful White-tailed Hawk.
And except for Dickcissels. There were scores of them.
I enjoyed watching them ...
and listening to their "dick-dick-dickcissel" songs.
But after 25 minutes I was ready for something different - and preferably a Northern Bobwhite.
Right on cue, a pair hopped out of a hedge and started walking down the road ahead of me. As soon as I stopped the car, they took fright and disappeared back into the hedge. But not before I got a photo.
Now that my mission was accomplished, I left the refuge and headed back towards Houston. On the way, I stopped to explore Stephen F Austin Park, a site I'd never visited before. I had a pleasant walk along the Cottonwood Trail, which was busy with common birds and lots of butterflies.
A pair of Red-shouldered Hawks flew off before I could get a good look at them. Then a male Cardinal flew up from the path, followed by another bird that I didn't get a look at. I assumed it was probably a female Cardinal but I thought I'd check it out just in case. I'm glad I did. When I located the bird, it was actually a Yellow-billed Cuckoo.
The Bobwhite and Cuckoo took my year list to 206 species.