Friday, October 31, 2014

Back to Baytown

Sunday morning I had agreed to take some non-birders on a birding trip. The site I chose to take them to was Baytown Nature Center. Although I had been there several times recently, I picked Baytown as our destination. Apart from the fact that the site always has plenty of birds, the presence of large wading birds near the roadway and trails makes it a good place to take people who are not accustomed to using binoculars.

Waiting in the entrance parking lot for late arrivals, I passed the time by watching some Blue Jays, a pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers, a Northern Mockingbird and a Red-headed Woodpecker.

When the group was assembled, we drove along to where the road passes between Pelican Cove and the Egret Tidal Flats pond. The water on both sides of the road had Brown Pelicans.

It also had numerous Great and Snowy Egrets. (As you'd expect from their name, Great Egrets are larger than Snowy Egrets. They also have a yellow, rather than a black, bill.)

A little further along the road we stopped to watch the birds in the new wetland area on the edge of Burnet Bay. Apart from the American Avocets I posted pictures of on Wednesday, there were several other species of shorebirds: Least Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers, Greater Yellowlegs, Killdeer (below) and a Willet.

Everyone enjoyed seeing a Great Blue Heron posing in the bay.

I was more excited to see a Reddish Egret, a bird I'd never seen on any of my previous visits to Baytown.

We drove on to San Jacinto Point, where we had distant views of one of the two adult Brown Boobies that have been present for a couple of weeks. The Boobies typically hang out in the company of Brown Pelicans and Cormorants on utility pylons in Burnet Bay. An Osprey resting on the nearest pylon proved to be a most cooperative photographic model.

After this we left the cars near the gazebo and walked down to Scott Bay and the Heron Haven Pond. The pond had a single Anhinga, while the mudflats on the edge of Scotts bay had Roseate Spoonbills, White Ibis, Willet and Spotted Sandpiper. Unfortunately, the lighting did not allow reasonable photos.

We completed the trip by walking the loop trail back to the gazebo. As it was now hot and after noon, we saw few birds except four Northern Rough-winged Swallows, a distant Northern Harrier, a Northern Cardinal and a couple more Ospreys. The exception was a flock of 60+ American White Pelicans that circled high overhead, well outside camera range.

I wasn't able to get photos of any of the butterflies that we passed, which included Monarch, Gulf Fritillary and Common Buckeye. I fared a little better with the praying mantis that one of our friends noticed.


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