Monday, March 21, 2011

High Island

It was 3:30 by the time we reached High Island. As I usually get lost going to the Smith Oaks site, we stopped off at Boy Scout Woods to pick up a trail map. While doing this, I had a quick look at a pair of Inca Doves wandering along the road.

The woods at Smith Oak were quiet as we walked through them but the rookery lake had hundreds of large wading birds, many of them already standing on partially or fully completed nests.  Unfortunately, almost all of the Roseate Spoonbills (and some Little Blue Herons) were clustered on the far side of the lake and so the only birds we could watch close-up were Double-crested Cormorants and Great Egrets.

The Great Egrets were in full breeding plumage with long lacy feathers streaming behind them. (A hundred years ago these feathers were such a prized addition to ladies' hats that the birds were hunted almost to extinction.) That it was breeding season was also clear from the fact that they all had green lores (the area between the eye and the base of the bill).


We spent a while watching Great Egrets displaying ...

and occasionally mating.

Meanwhile a dozen or so alligators were lazing at the water's edge below the nesting birds. They're getting ready for next month, when they'll enjoy a diet of baby birds that will fall from the nests.

Then, when I was explaining to our friends that we'd have to come back another time to get good views of Spoonbills, a crowd of the latter starting flying into the trees in front of us. What a sight!

At the end of the afternoon, Carlos and Macarena headed back to their hotel on Galveston while Dee and I decided to look for a motel somewhere in Port Arthur. We'd never been to that area before and I thought this would be a good chance to check out some birding sites over there.

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