Monday, January 09, 2012

Weekend Trip: Part 1

By 9:15 a.m. on Saturday we were at the first of the birding sites we planned to visit over the weekend - Sheldon Lake. The corner of the reservoir visible from the southern end of Pineland Road was crowded with American Coots, Double-crested Cormorants and Gadwalls, while the banks had numbers of White Ibis and Great and Snowy Egrets. There were several Anhingas, too, one of which did a head-waving display from a perch on a jetty before flying away.

Down at the Environmental Center many of the ponds had little or no water and we didn't see a single wading or water bird or duck. Orange-crowned Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets were plentiful but the best sighting was of a flock of 100-200 Cedar Waxwings at the end of the parking lot.

Our next stop was Anahuac NWR, where we wanted the drive around Shovelers Pond and then have lunch in the old Visitors Center. Unfortunately, the road to and around Shovelers Pond was closed for construction and the old Visitors Center was already occupied. So after taking a quick photo of a Red-shouldered Hawk perched by the road, we set off for the refuge's Skillern Tract instead.

Although the tract had many fewer birds than during our last visit, there was still enough action to keep us entertained while we ate our picnic lunch.

A pair of Red-tailed Hawks kept moving from tree to tree near the parking area whenever visitors came too close, and one or other of them would occasionally soar up into the sky for a while.

I missed seeing a male Vermilion Flycatcher that Dee saw but I did get to spend several minutes watching a female as she chased bugs from nearby trees.

Lunch over, we drove down to Bolivar Peninsula, counting hawks and American Kestrels along the way. (Between Anahuac and the Bolivar ferry, we saw 9 Kestrels and 78 hawks, of white 64 were Red-tailed!)

Although the sandbars at Rollover Pass had masses of birds, including many White and Brown Pelicans, we didn't stay long because all the birds were far away from the parking areas. The exception was a Great Blue Heron that spent a long time struggling to swallow something it had caught.

Since leaving Sheldon Lake, we hadn't been very lucky with the sites we visited but we had great hopes for the next stop on our itinerary - the shorebird sanctuary at Bolivar Flats. Surely a walk along the beach there would produce a range of interesting birds!


Jay said...

I am just getting into bird and nature photography and your photos are a great inspiration. Especially since you are nearby and photograph areas I hope to visit soon.

Jeff said...

Thanks, Jay. There are a lot of people around here who take much better photos, but they tend to have top-level equipment. Let me know if there's any help I can give.

Marilyn Kircus said...

You are making me homesick. I LOVE Sheldon Lake State Park. But I usually bird there by canoe or kayak go during nesting season. Those islands filled with scores to hundreds of wading birds -cattle, great, snowy, little blue, and tricolored herons, white ibis, roseate spoonbills and anhingas. Oh yes, we found purple gallinules there as well as common gallinules.

And of course, its always exciting to get close to an alligator waiting underneath the trees for a snack of baby bird.

That last trip was last May so thanks for a little virtual fix.