Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Baytown Nature Center

On Sunday morning I decided to do a drive around the Baytown area, hoping to see a variety of Grebes and perhaps a Bald Eagle.

Arriving at the Baytown Nature Center, I stopped to watch a group of Mallards paddling around one of the ponds. 

The same pond had several Gadwall, a species that seems to be present at every pond or lake that I have visited this winter.

A solitary Lesser Scaup was hanging out nearby.

At first glance I assumed that this bird was a Double-crested Cormorant. However, it had a whitish "V" at the base of its beak, one of the distinguishing marks of the Neotropic Cormorant.

I spent a couple of minutes watching a Great Egret as it moved in virtual slow motion through the water, looking for prey.

The bay itself was quiet for birds, except for perahps 40 Ruddy Ducks and an Eared Grebe that were too far away for photos. There was no sign of either the Western Grebe or the Horned Grebe that have been seen here almost daily. 

A few Brown Pelicans flew over the water as I scanned it for Grebes.

The butterfly garden had only a few White-crowned Sparrows and a male Great-tailed Grackle.
I tried to make the latter into a Boat-tailed Grackle but the shape of its tail and the way it held its wings down while displaying clearly indicated it was a Great-tailed.

I couldn't resist parking by the bay to watch a Snowy Egret on my way out of the center. Much smaller than Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets are also distinguished by their black beak and bright yellow feet. 

My visit to the Baytown Nature Center had produced only one of the grebes I had been looking for. I left hoping that I would be more successful at the next site, Thompson's Bait Camp, a place I had never visited previously but where other birders had been seeing Western Grebes as well as hundreds of Red-breasted Mergansers.

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