Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday at Baytown (2)

The wetland area on the edge of Scott Bay isn't in the most attractive location.

However, when I arrived, it had a nice selection of waders, including 8 Roseate Spoonbills, and a dozen or so Great and Snowy Egrets.

A Great Blue Heron was too far away to photograph but several Tricolored Herons and a Little Blue Heron were just within range.

Although two adult Yellow-crowned Herons tried very hard to avoid being photographed, I managed to get a quick shot of one of them.

Unfortunately, there were very few shorebirds, and the ones that were present were too far away for decent photos: a Least Sandpiper, a Solitary Sandpiper, half-a-dozen Western Sandpipers and two Least Yellowlegs.

Beyond the wetlands the main trail ends at a gate but trails lead off to the right and the left. I headed right to the Scott Bay Overlook. I scanned the bay with binoculars, looking unsuccessfully for the Common Loon that had been reported there a couple of weeks earlier. All I could see were 50 Brown Pelicans, some swimming and some just standing about.

Back at the gate, I crossed the main  trail and looked over Heron Haven pond, disturbing a pair of Belted Kingfishers as I did so.

Snags in the pond were providing perches for three Black-crowned Night-Herons, the heron/egret species that I seem to see least often on my birding trips.

The path left from the gate gave me an even better vantage point for scanning the pond.

Several snags had Neotropic Cormorants.

Another snag had the only Osprey I saw all morning.

My final sighting was of three Anhingas. Two were perched on snags. 

Even when these birds are not swimming, it is easy to see why some people call them "snakebirds".

The third Anhinga circled overhead as I left Heron Haven and headed back to my car.

Although I had seen only a handful of the shorebirds I had been hoping for, I had really enjoyed my visit to Baytown. It was particularly interesting to see so many large wading birds, and to get to watch many of them from just a few yards away.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sunday at Baytown (1)

When I got to Baytown Nature Center at 8:00 on Sunday, it was cold enough for me to have to don a jacket. It was also overcast and windy, so clearly not the best weather for seeing and photographing birds. However, the various parts of the site had more birds than I'd seen there for years.

My first stop was by the roadside just after reaching Burnet Bay. The ditch on the landward side had a very cute young Yellow-crowned Night-Heron.

A few yards further along, I was surprised when an adult Great Blue Heron didn't fly off as I stopped beside it but rather stayed and let me take photos from just a few yards away.

Several Laughing Gulls were swirling around overhead and a juvenile came to check me out.

Burnet Bay was empty of birds but the newly-created wetland area on the edge of the bay was absolutely hopping with large waders. This area is so near the road that it makes a perfect place for viewing waders and watching how they interact with each other.

As one would expect there were Great Egrets stalking around in the shallow water, and flying overhead.

Snowy Egrets were even more numerous. Some were hanging out alone or with others of their species.

Several were happily fishing alongside half-a-dozen Roseate Spoonbills. 

It's easy to see how Spoonbills get their name.

Of course, when the birds are grazing, their bills aren't visible.

A Tricolored Heron (below) was also moving about near the Spoonbills, while a second Great Blue Heron and an adult White Ibis (below) seemed to prefer to keep to themselves.

After this, I drove to the parking area near the gazebo mound and walked along to Wooster Point. I was hoping that the pools by the trail would produce a selection of migrating shorebirds but this wasn't to be. The only shorebirds that I came across were a couple of Willets (below) and a couple of Black-necked Stilts.

I'm very fond of Black-necked Stilts and have been ever since I saw my first ones, back in the early 1990s on Kauai. So I couldn't resist stopping to take a few photos.

I decided to complete my trip by walking down to the new wetland area next to Scott Bay and by exploring the Heron Haven pond, a part of the Baytown site that I haven't checked out for years. As you will see in my next blog post, this area turned out to be the most productive part of my visit.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Last Week in Our Area

Fall migration may be here but, if so, I'm not seeing too many signs of it.

A few - but only a few - migrants turned up during the Saturday (Sept. 6) bird-walk at Kleb Woods. I missed getting photos of a Yellow Warbler but this Baltimore Oriole stopped to pose.

Three Eastern Wood-Pewees were presumably just passing through.

The best sighting of the day didn't involve migrants but some local residents. All of us were thrilled to see a family of three Pileated Woodpeckers pop up a couple of time during the walk.

The hummingbird feeders were drawing in plenty of birds. All the ones I saw were Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, like this female.

Back at home, our yards have been very quiet: We haven't been putting out much food, plus a Cooper's Hawk is hanging out in nearby trees. Early in the week a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird (below) was defending our one hummer feeder from another male and a female. By the end of the week the males had disappeared and so females were able to feed.

If there weren't many signs of migration at Kleb, there were even fewer on the CyFair campus. The only migrant I spotted all week was a solitary Red-eyed Vireo.

There were quite a few of our normal residents around, though. The utility pylons on the north side of the campus seemed always to have at least one of our Red-tailed Hawks, while a Cooper's Hawk (below) also turned up a few times.

I don't think there was a single day that I arrived on campus without being greeted by a Great Blue Heron and a Great Egret (below) or two.

Yesterday morning I went over to Baytown Nature Center in search of shorebirds. The latter were few and far between but there were plenty of other birds there. I'll post my pictures later this week. 

Monday, September 08, 2014

Down to the Coast (2)

Rollover Pass on Bolivar can be a great birding site or a poor one, depending on the state of the tide and the number of anglers present there. When we went on the Labor Day weekend, the tide was high and the site was crowded with fishermen. In spite of this, we saw quite a few birds out in the water, along the beach and even in the parking area.

The water had a few large waders (Snowy Egrets and a Tricolored Heron) as well as several groups of Brown Pelicans. The latter species usually fishes by diving into the sea from a height but these birds were adopting a different approach. They would float on the water and then suddenly fly just a few yards before settling back down onto the water and grabbing fish.

Two Marbled Godwits turned up and began to groom as we were watching.

The edge of the beach had adult and young Laughing Gulls.

There were Semipalmated Plovers (with black neck band) and Sanderlings also.

There were some adult and young Wilson's Plovers, distinguished from the Leasts by their heavy bills.

A handsome American Oystercatcher was prowling along the water's edge, while a Willet wandered nearby.

There were Royal and Least Terns, too.

One of the Leasts decided to bathe and groom.

The parking area itself had several of the same birds but also had a couple of Ruddy Turnstones.

The puddles had Snowy Egrets.

As we prepared to leave, I mentioned to Dee that I was disappointed not to have seen a Reddish Egret, a bird missing from my 2014 list. Amazingly, right then one flew down into one of the puddles among the parked vehicles.

It even proceeded to groom just yards from our car.

It was certainly a very good note on which to end our short visit to Rollover.