In spite of the recent heavy rains, several of the ponds remained dry and birds were certainly nothing like as plentiful as they were before Hurricane Ike covered the area in saltwater. However, there were enough birds to make the visit very enjoyable. (To be honest, we would have enjoyed the visit even without any birds, because the landscape at the refuge is simply beautiful.)
The most common shorebirds were Black-necked Stilts. We came across them at every pond and also along the flooded verges of the road.
Near the shelter where we stopped to have our picnic, several Willets were nesting. I didn't notice the nests at first, but the parents' calls soon alerted me and so I backed off.
While we were having lunch, we were able to watch several adult and juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Herons feeding among the marsh grasses. This species must have had an extremely successful breeding season because we have seen lots of juveniles everywhere we have birded recently.
On this occasion, the adults and juveniles were accompanied by what looked like a very young chick.
We had been sitting at the shelter for some time before Deanne noticed that a Barn Swallow was nesting under the structure's roof.
The parent seemed totally unconcerned by our presence.
Nearby a couple of Black Terns were busy fishing.
As you would expect in our area at this time of year, there were frequent flyovers by Black-bellied Whistling Ducks.
If every year is good for these ducks, this year seems to have been a particularly good one for Common Nighthawks: I've seen more in the past few months than in all of the years I've been birdwatching.
Our drive out of the refuge was punctuated with stops to admire numerous Eastern Meadowlarks and Red-winged Blackbirds, as well as several Dickcissels, a species we had never previously seen at Brazoria.