Saturday morning we drove down to Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. As it was a hot day and we didn't arrive there until 10:00, we weren't expecting to see a lot birds. However, there turned out to be plenty of activity.
Cliff Swallows were busy raising their young in the old Visitor Center.
Most of the Barn Swallows that nest there every year had already left but a few were lingering on what looked to be empty nests.
Just outside the building, a Killdeer had decided to lay her eggs beside the road.
The utility lines nearby had lots of Scissor-tailed Flycatchers.
We spent the rest of our time at the refuge doing a slow drive around Shoveler's Pond.
Neotropic Cormorants were occupying many of the signs and posts.
Grackles were everywhere, too. I can never tell whether adult males are Great-tailed or Boat-tailed.
Luckily females are a little easier to ID. This bird's dark eye marks it as a Boat-tailed.
The only ducks we saw were a couple of flyover Fulvous Whistling Ducks.
Black-necked Stilts were making a lot of noise, irrespective of whether they were foraging in the water or circling above.
Male Red-winged Blackbirds were displaying and calling.
Eastern Kingbirds, normally common at Anahuac, were few and far between.
There were also very few birds on the water, except for Common Gallinules and a family of Pied-billed Grebes.
Several of the bushes and trees along the road were hosting Cattle Egrets.
We spent some time watching a pair of Tricolored Herons building their nest.
One of my target birds was Least Bittern. Unfortunately, we saw only one and it disappeared before I could even raise my camera.
Another target species was Purple Gallinule, a bird that we regularly see at Brazos Bend State Park but occasionally also spot at Anahuac. It must be a really exceptional year for Purple Gallinules at Anahuac because we saw no fewer than twelve on our drive around Shoveler's Pond!
After finishing the loop around Shoveler's Pond, we met up with our friends (Carlos and Macarena) and drove over to High Island, where we wanted to check out the rookery at Smith Oaks.