Sunday, August 02, 2015

Down by the Bay

This weekend I thought it was about time I added some birds to my year list for Harris County. (As I haven't birded much this year, my list on Saturday stood at only 172 species.) So on Saturday morning we headed over to the Baytown Nature Center, where I expected to see a good range of large waders, plenty of gulls and terns, and perhaps several shorebird species.

In the event, there were fewer birds visible than on any of my (many) previous visits. After half-an-hour, we had seen only a couple each of Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets and Cattle Egrets, and a few Yellow-crowned Night Herons (below).

As we walked back to the car, we did get to see a flight of five Wood Storks, a welcome addition to my county list.

We decided to drive home via the San Jacinto Monument, which I thought was bound to be buzzing with birds.

Sure enough, our visit to the Monument grounds started off well when we passed a group of a dozen Black Vultures near the road and then spotted three more Wood Storks.

However, my hopes the boardwalk didn't produce a single bird except for a flyover Great Heron. 

At first glance, the main bay area seemed fairly empty except for a few Egrets on small islands and a few gulls and terns fishing far out in the water. But then I noticed a large number of birds were stretched out in a long line at one end of the bay.

While the smaller birds turned out to be mainly just Laughing Gulls, the bigger birds were of several different species. Brown Pelicans, Neotropic Cormorants, Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets predominated.  

An American White Pelican was tucked in among the Browns. 

A single Black-bellied Whistling Duck was barely visible but here and there I caught sight of some juvenile and adult White Ibis (below).

A Little Blue Heron and a Great Blue Heron refused to let me photograph them, while a Green Heron and a Yellow-crowned Night Heron were out of camera range.

While none of the birds were new for the year or in any way unusual, their presence certainly made the visit worthwhile.  

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