Monday, December 12, 2011

Bay Birding

In my previous posting I mentioned that my Harris County life list had reached 250 species. Looking at the list, I realized that I had seen 196 species in the county this year. So I decided to see if I can get my Harris County year list up to 200 species, a total I had never previously imagined I could reach.

On my way home from work on Friday  I added one more bird when a Long-billed Curlew unexpectedly appeared at Paul Rushing Park.

I thought the easiest way to reach 200 species would be to add some coastal birds, such as gulls and terns. (I see lots of these birds in a normal year but usually in Galveston County.) With this in mind, we headed down to the San Jacinto Monument park yesterday morning.

The area around the Monument had few birds, except for an American Kestrel, a Red-shouldered Hawk and four Black Vultures. The reflection pool had a flock of 30 Ruddy Ducks.

The boardwalk was more productive, immediately yielding a handful of Roseate Spoonbills and Snowy Egrets, some Double-crested Cormorants, a Northern Harrier and a Great Blue Heron.

It also had two of my target birds, Herring Gull and Forster's Tern, even though these werre too far away to photograph.

The path beyond the boardwalk had numerous Ruby-crowned Kinglets and a Hermit Thrush.

The open water had a couple of dozen Northern Shovelers while several small groups of White Pelicans circled overhead.

The final sighting was of a female Belted Kingfisher.

After our walk around the Monument park, we crossed over to Baytown via the Lynchburg ferry, accompanied by several Great--tailed Grackles.

Unfortunately, the Baytown Nature Center was almost empty of birds, and the mosquitoes were fierce. There were plenty of butterflies, though, including several Common Buckeyes.

So our trip ended with a whimper rather than a bang. But at least San Jacinto had produced two new species, taking my Harris County list to 198.

If I had 2-3 weeks left in which to add two new species to my list, I'm sure I could manage it. But there is only just over a week (with one weekend) to go before we fly to England!

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