Deanne and I were back at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday morning. It was a beautiful if very hot day and the refuge was looking at its best.
We started and ended our visit with slow drives around Shoveler Pond, where even the alligators seemed to be trying to escape the heat.
The usual Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets were outnumbered by Cattle Egrets. The latter were collecting sticks, presumably for nesting, and they were looking very good in their breeding plumage.
Although we again missed seeing a Black-crowned Night Heron, we did see several Yellow-crowned Night Herons, including this juvenile.
There were also several Green (below), Tricolored (below) and Little Blue Herons.
Eastern Kingbirds and Orchard Orioles were present but absolutely refused to be photographed. Male Red-winged Blackbirds were much less shy.
Way out in the middle of the pond, a dozen or more Roseate Spoonbills were hanging out with as many Wood Storks. As these were out first Wood Storks of 2014, I really wanted to get photos of them. However, they were so far away from the road that my Canon SX50 struggled to produce a picture that was even recognizable.
Luckily, most of the other birds were not so far away.
As on our last trip, Laughing Gulls and Neotropic Cormorants were making good use of roadside signs.
Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were dividing their time between the water and the road itself.
Surprisingly, Fulvous Whistling Ducks outnumbered their Black-bellied cousins on this trip. They looked particularly beautiful as the paddled about among the water-lilies.
Adult and juvenile Pied-billed Grebes were also feeding among the water lilies. The young Grebes have very distinctive face markings.
Everywhere we looked there were Common Gallinules. Some adults and juveniles were foraging or preening on their own.
But most were in family groups.
Equally common but much more difficult to photograph were Purple Gallinules. They would wander along right by the road or even cross it but would disappear into the vegetation as soon as I stopped the car.
Then, just as were were finishing our second tour of the pond, we came across one that was more interested in preening than in our presence.
After our first loop of Shoveler Pond we decided to take the 5-mile drive down to Frozen Point, something we rarely do on our visits to the refuge. As it turned out, this was a very good decision.