Although yesterday morning was very foggy, we drove over to the Baytown Nature Center for a relaxed couple of hours of birding. I knew we were too late to see the White-winged Scoters that had hung out there for a while, but I was hoping we might still see some of the Hooded Mergansers that had been reported.
The pilings along the shoreline were hosting dozens of Double-crested and Neotropic Cormorants as well as Laughing Gulls (below) and Brown Pelicans (below).
As usual, there were plenty of Great and Snowy Egrets and Great Blue Herons (below).
Mudflats and other wetland areas did not have the variety of shorebirds I expected but they were busy with Least Sandpipers, Greater Yellowlegs and, of course, Killdeer.
Spotted Sandpipers were exploring the mud and rocks at several places.
The bay and the ponds had a score or more Gadwall in addition to a handful of other ducks: Northern Shoveler, Lesser Scaup and Mottled Duck. A small group of Hooded Mergansers was present but wouldn't come close enough for clear photos.
Raptors included Osprey, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk and Northern Harrier.
Passerines were comparatively scarce, with the exception of Red-winged Blackbirds, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Northern Mockingbirds and Northern Cardinals. However, I did see my first Barn Swallow of 2014.
As we were leaving, we stopped near the entrance to check out the Great Horned Owl nest. There were two owlets hunkered down in the nest.
Occasionally, one of the birds would raise its head a little further, letting us see that even very young owls have fearsome beaks.
Our day list was 42 species, which wasn't too bad for two hours of birding on a very gloomy day. The Hooded Mergansers and Barn Swallow took my year list to 137 species.