Monday, March 31, 2014

A Quick Visit to Anahuac

On our way to High Island on Sunday, we decided to make a quick visit to Anahuac NWR. We weren't expecting to see a lot of birds, but the landscape there is beautiful and there are always some interesting birds to look at.

While we were signing the visitors book, several White-crowned Sparrows were hopping around.

Shoveler's Pond was as lovely as ever, although quiet for birds.

Roseate Spoonbills and both Fulvous and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were present but far from the road. A Green Heron was closer.

The Willows produced our first Eastern Kingbirds of the year.

The water by the road had mainly American Coots and Common Gallinules, as well as a handful of Pied-billed Grebes (below).

This Snowy Egret was lurking in the grasses by the roadside.

A Laughing Gull was less secretive.

Male Red-winged Blackbirds don't look very striking ...

...until they fluff up their feathers and call.

I looked in at the old Visitor Center to check if Barn Swallows had started nesting. They had.

While the walls of the Center are lined with the bowl-shaped nests that Barn Swallows build, the roof is covered with the gourd-shaped nests favored by Cliff Swallows.

As I peered up into one of these nests, a Cliff Swallow peered back at me, its white forehead clearly distinguishing it from the Barn Swallows.

Anahuac really deserved much more than the 45 minutes we spent there. However, we had to leave because we wanted to join the noon birding trip from High Island down to Bolivar. With any luck, Rollover Pass would have an excellent variety of terns, shorebirds and waders.  

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Saturday at Home

As we are planning to visit High Island today (Sunday), we spent yesterday at home. It was another beautiful spring day.

Both of our American Robins were enjoying our front yard.

Although most of our winter birds have left, we still have a few Chipping Sparrows. We'll be sad when they leave, which will probably be soon now.

Our only male Ruby-throated Hummingbird visited the feeder in our backyard from time to time, never staying long enough for me to get a really sharp picture.

While I was watching for him, I was surprised to see a female Ruby-throated sneaking in to the feeder.

Dee has been putting raw peanuts out on our fence for the young Blue Jays that have been regular visitors lately. The birds really appreciate the nuts and will beg loudly when none are left. 

Unfortunately, the squirrels sometimes get to the nuts first.

White-winged Doves are partial to nuts also, although the squirrel had left none for this one.

We've had the same pair of House Finches visiting our feeders for several months. However, a different male has now turned up. Male House Finches are usually red but this one is a so-called "orange variant". In reality, as you can see from the photo, he's more yellow or gold than orange.

Coast Trip
In a couple of hours we're driving down to High Island to see if any spring migrants have arrived. While we're there, we'll no doubt look in at the wading bird rookery and we'll probably also check out Rollover Pass for gulls, terns, plovers etc. With any luck I should have some interesting photos to post next week.  

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday Fotos

I was looking out of our living-room window the other afternoon when our resident Carolina Wrens put in an appearance.

One posed nicely against the shed wall.

It then moved onto the shed roof.

Its partner hopped onto the fence. It could hear the click of my camera shutter and kept looking around to see where the noise was coming from.

As it was windy, this bird had problems keeping its feathers in order.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Action in the Eagles' Nest

Sunday morning I drove over to the Longwood detention pond again to see how the Bald Eagles were doing. I really wanted to find out whether there were two chicks in the nest or only one.

When I arrived, one parent was standing guard in a tree not far from the nest.

Bald Eagles really are magnificent birds!

They can be quite vocal, too.

I waited a while but couldn’t see any sign of movement in the nest.

I sat down and kept watching, in the hope that the nestling(s) would eventually get bored with hunkering down and decide to look out of the nest.

I was right. After 20 minutes a nestling popped its head up. Then a second chick came into view.

One of the nestlings, clearly older than the other, started exercising its wings.

I had never used video on my camera before, so I thought I'd give it a try.

I can’t wait for the young birds to get big enough to be more easily visible – and for them to start venturing outside the nest.

I'm trying out linking this blog posting to Wild Bird Wednesday.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Eagles and Pelicans

Last Saturday morning I went over to see how the nesting Bald Eagles were doing at the Longwood detention pond.

I was greeted by a pair of Loggerhead Shrikes, a bird I can never resist photographing.

As I was watching the Shrikes, one of the Bald Eagles flew in from the west and headed towards the nest. 

By the time I reached the other side of the pond, both adult Eagles were perched in a tree far from their nest. They then disappeared off to the south.

With no Eagles to watch, I turned my attention to a large group of American White Pelicans, who were doing their morning grooming.

Straightening our feathers can't be easy when you have such an enormous bill.

From time to time another Pelican would float in from a different part of the pond. 

It would stand in the shallow water and work at its wing feathers.

Then it would settle all the feathers into place with a good flap of its wings.

It was fun watching how other Pelicans would fly in to join the group. 

There weren't as many wading or water birds as usual at the pond, just a couple of Killdeer, a Wilson's Snipe and the resident Snowy Egret (below).

Then, apparently out of nowhere, a pair of Green-winged Teal popped up.

I was halfway back to my car when I noticed that one of the Eagles had returned to the trees by the pond. 

Then the other adult flew in and landed on the nest. I didn't have time to walk back for a better view, so I grabbed a quick photo from where I was. The photo isn't clear but you can make out the adult and a nestling. I suspect that there is a second nestling but only time will tell.