At Boy Scouts' Wood in High Island, Deanne ate lunch while I walked the trails. There were no birds! Well, that's not quite true. In 25 minutes I saw a female Orchard Oriole and a couple of Grackles.
We headed over to Smith Oaks, where we were greeted by a gorgeous male Scarlet Tanager.
Deanne decided to wait in the woods while I paid a quick visit to the rookery. (She made a good choice because she saw a male Western Tanager while I was away.)
As usual, the rookery was a hive of activity.
Great, Snowy and Tricolored Egrets were spending most of their time sitting or standing quietly on or by their nests, in some of which eggs were visible.
Roseate Spoonbills were much less well-behaved. They seemed to spend most of their time squabbling over ownership of desirable twigs ...
or chasing away other Spoonbills who intruded on their space.
A Snowy Egret seemed to be the only bird that noticed a group of six alligators hanging out below. (It won't be long before they benefit from a diet of baby birds falling from nests.)
After checking them out, he decided to perch above them and do some preening. Brave bird!
As we weren't in any hurry, we stopped in at Anahuac to do a drive around Shoveler Pond to see how the refuge is recovering from Ike.
Apart from for the large ditch by the road, there was little water to be seen. Birds were scarce, too, except for Barn Swallows, Red-winged Blackbirds and Great-tailed Grackles.
We had a brief spell of excitement when a group of Dickcissels appeared, to be followed a moment later by three Orchard Orioles.
I drove on, only to hit the brakes when Dee shouted "Stop." She had spotted our first rail of the year - a handsome King Rail.
Thirty yards further along, Dee yelled out"Stop" again. Another rail, this time a very agitated and noisy Clapper Rail.
Seeing two different rails in two minutes is pretty good by any standards and it was a fitting end to our visit to Anahuac and our weekend at the coast.
We had seen 76 species in about 6 hours of birding. I had added 18 new species to my USA year list, taking the latter to 204. That exactly matches the total number of birds I saw in Texas in 2009. Not bad, especially considering it's only early May and all of my birding has been done in the Houston/Galveston/High Island area.