Monday, January 13, 2014

Looking for a Rarity

I don't usually have time to go looking chasing after the rare birds that are reported in our area. However, Sunday morning I saw that a Common Merganser had shown up in south Houston, and I decided to drive down to look for the bird. I love Common Mergansers and this was the first one ever seen in Harris County.

I arrived at the Eldridge Retention Ponds at 8:40, only to be told by another birder there that the bird had flown off at 8:00!

The ponds had plenty of other birds. A score or more Great Egrets lined the water's edge, while there was a large raft of Cormorants, accompanied by several American White Pelicans.

Further back in the grass were 7 or 8 Great Blue Herons. I was scanning these when another Great Blue Heron flew past carrying a large fish. 

The bird landed well away from where I was standing and it proceeded to try to turn the fish around so it could swallow it.

It took the Heron fully 5 minutes to get the fish the right way around for swallowing.

Then the fish slipped out of the bird's bill.

I never saw whether the Heron managed to eat the fish, because a jogger appeared and the bird flew off with the fish in its bill.

After watching the Heron's struggle with its breakfast, I drove over to nearby Cullinan Park to make sure the Merganser hadn't settled there. on the pond. It hadn't and in fact the park's lake had very few birds.

A handful of Pied-billed Grebes were grazing.

A solitary Ring-necked Duck appeared, my first of the year.

An American Coot dove to bring up weed from the lake bottom before settling down to its morning preening.

After 15 minutes I headed home, stopping off for half-an-hour at Bear Creek Park. Unfortunately, many areas in the park were flooded and birds were very scarce: All I saw were a few Cedar Waxwings, Pine Warblers and Carolina Chickadees and a Red-headed Woodpecker. So it was a rather disappointing end to a rather disappointing morning's birding.

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