Saturday morning I spent an hour at our nearest birding site, Little Cypress Creek Preserve. It was busy with common birds but not much else. However, I did see my first Golden-crowned Kinglet of the year as well as a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks.
On Sunday we drove down to the San Jacinto Monument in hopes of seeing the Long-tailed Duck that has been hanging out there for several weeks. It would be a life bird for me. From the parking lot and the boardwalk I spotted a flock of scores of American White Pelicans (below) plus several new year birds - Vermilion Flycatcher, Brown Thrasher, Roseate Spoonbills, Green-winged Teal and Mottled Duck.
From the end of a park road I walked out to where two other birders were scoping the bay. One of the birders, Paul Sellin, had the Long-tailed Duck in his scope and let me view the bird. Unfortunately, the duck was too far away for a photo, which was also true of other new year birds I could see - American Avocets and Long-billed Dowitchers.
We drove on to take the Lynchburg Ferry across to Baytown. The beach near the ferry landing had many Laughing Gulls and several more new year birds - Sanderlings, Herring Gulls, Forster's Terns and Royal Terns.
Just after disembarking from the ferry, we had a good if brief luck at a coyote trotting across a grassy area.
Baytown Nature Center was fairly quiet when we arrived and so we had a picnic lunch in the hilltop pavilion. In the distance an Osprey was standing on a partially completed nest while closer to hand a Loggerhead Shrike was hunting.
A Great Egret walked slowly through the water on one side of the hill.
We watched a Brown Pelican fishing on the other side of the hill.
After lunch we strolled along the bayside trail looking for the Eared and Horned Grebes that have been seen many times over recent weeks. We had no luck with the Grebes but I added to my year list with distant views of a Tricolored Heron and a pair of Hooded Mergansers (below).
The walk also produced flyovers by Great Blue Herons and distant looks at some Northern Pintails.
We saw what at first glance looked like a two-headed Red-eared Slider!
We did a quick drive out to the furthest jetty but saw only Great-tailed Grackles.
On our way out of the park we stopped to admire a distant Belted Kingfisher (below) and an Osprey lunching on a fish.
Nearby a Snowy Egret was resting by the edge of a pond while another Snowy was rushing about trying to scare up fish.
Our final sighting was of a Killdeer and a Spotted Sandpiper (below).
All in all, it wasn't a great day's birding. However, we had seen some interesting birds, including one lifer (Long-tailed Duck) and 13 other year birds, taking my 2013 total to 108 species.