Late last week Dee and I decided to do a weekend trip to Beaumont, east of Houston and close to the Louisiana border. We'd never been there before and we'd heard the town had a good birding site called Cattail Marsh.
We set off on Saturday morning and made a brief stop at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, a place we never tire of visiting. A main reason for visiting this time was to check if there were any geese on the refuge.
We drove slowly around the Shoveler's Pond loop and were surprised to see that the water level was very high and that birds were comparatively scarce.
One of the few busy spots was a berm where dozens of Black-necked Stilts were hanging out with a variety of ducks and egrets.
The pond had Green-winged Teal, Blue-winged Teal, Gadwall and Northern Shovelers but all were far from the road. Roseate Spoonbills and White and White-faced Ibis kept their distance, too. A number of Pied-billed Grebes, Common Gallinules and American Coots (below) were a little closer.
When we reached the west side of the loop, we were pleased to see that the fields away from the pond were crowded with hundreds - perhaps thousands - of geese.
Most were Snow Geese but there were also some small groups of Greater White-fronted Geese.
When a couple of sub-adult Bald Eagles made a pass over the fields, the geese took flight and filled the sky above us.
On the rest of our drive around Shoveler's Pond we saw very few birds - and no alligators. So we decided to leave Anahuac and make a quick diversion down to Rollover Pass on the Bolivar peninsula.
When the tide is right, the beach at Rollover can be packed with thousands of gulls, terns and shorebirds. Unfortunately, when we got there this time, the tide wasn't right. There were thousands of birds but they were on sandbars so far away that the only birds we could ID among them were Black Skimmers.
The beach itself had Brown Pelicans and Laughing Gulls (below).
Shorebirds were largely absent except for a couple of Black-belled Plovers, three Willets and a Greater Yellowlegs.
A small flock of American Avocets flew in. Some birds stayed in the water while others patrolled the beach.
What elegant birds they are!
Then a Marbled Godwit turned up and wandered along the beach, eating a worm.
A few moments later it discovered another worm. It took ages for the Godwit to pull the worm out of the sand.
Once the worm was free, the Godwit quickly gobbled it down.
By now it was well after noon and so we said goodbye to Bolivar and drove back up to I-10 and then east to Beaumont, where we had arranged to spend the night.