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|Sunday 1st April 2007, 15:02||#1|
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Cypress, Texas
Upper Texas Coast Trip March 2007
March 24, 2007 LAKE SHELDON
We set off at 8:00 am from Houston for Anahuac NWR, stopping at two sites on Lake Sheldon. (Earlier in the year the lake was very busy with ducks and in a month or two it will be the biggest inland rookery in the USA for egrets, herons, etc.) Even though we were between busy seasons and stooped for a total of only 15 minutes, we saw: Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Little Blue and Tricolored Herons, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, American Coots, Common Moorhens, Anhingas, Red-winged Blackbirds and White Ibis.
March 24, 2007 ANAHUAC NWRAnahuac is one of my favorite wildlife sites in Texas. Although it was quieter than usual this time, it was well worth the visit. Alligators were very much in evidence now that they’d ended their winter torpor and the males were ready to look for mates; we saw 10. The entrance road (newly paved) was surprisingly empty, except for Boat-tailed Grackles, American Kestrels and Loggerhead Shrikes. However, the pond near the Visitor Center had Black-bellied and Fulvous Whistling Ducks, Greater White-fronted Geese, Snow Geese, and White and White-faced Ibis, plus American Coots, Common Moorhens, Gadwall, Blue-winged Teal, Marbled Godwit, Black-necked Stilts and Gull-billed Terns. The Willows had Yellow-rumped Warblers, while a drive around Shoveler Pond added Song Sparrows, Seaside Sparrows, Northern Harriers, Black-crowned Night and Great Blue Heron, and Great Egret; plus many more of the birds seen at the entrance pond.
March 24-25, 2007 HIGH ISLAND, ROLLOVER PASS & BOLIVAR PENINSULA
We stopped at Robin Hood Wood in High Island but didn’t stay because people said it was absolutely empty of birds. (We’ll come back later in the spring if we get strong winds coming down from the north and can expect to see warblers, etc.) Rollover Pass was not very busy but 15 minutes produced Laughing Gulls, Bonaparte’s Gulls, Black Skimmers, Caspian and Royal Terns, Brown Pelicans, Great and Reddish Egrets, Great Blue Heron and Black Terns.
The second major site of the day was the Audubon section of Bolivar Beach, and this was as good as I’ve ever seen it. There were dozens of Brown and White Pelicans, Reddish Egret and Great Blue Heron, and a great array and number of shorebirds: Marbled Godwit, Long-billed Curlews, Least and Western Sandpipers, Dunlin, Ruddy Turnstones, Willets, Long- and Short-billed Dowitchers, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Red Knot, Sanderlings, Wilson’s Plovers, and Snowy and Black-bellied Plovers, and Semipalmated Plovers. Laughing Gulls, Caspian and Royal Terns were abundant also, but the most amazing sight was 10,000+ American Avocets, almost all in breeding plumage. Unbelievable, especially when a Peregrine Falcon came in and caused all the birds to lift off at once!
We stayed the night at the nearby Fisherman’s Cove Motel, seeing White-tailed Kite on the way and Barn Swallows, Seaside Sparrows and Long-billed Curlews around the motel.
The next morning, Jill and I saw many of the same birds back at the Audubon beach but only a few of the Avocets remained. So we did the loop drive around Horseshoe Marsh, seeing American Oystercatcher, Great and Snowy Egrets and Long-billed Dowitchers. A brief walk through the marsh turned up only American Coots and a very aggressive Cottonmouth (Water Moccasin).
March 25, 2007 GALVESTON & BRAZORIA NWRAs we were running late, we made only one brief stop on Galveston, at Lafitte’s Cover. It was deserted, except for N Cardinals, Carolina Chickadees and a Brown Thrasher.
So then it was on to Brazoria, another of my favorite Texas sites. It was still windy here, but at least this kept the mosquitoes to manageable numbers. The Visitor Center pool had American Coots, Common Moorhen, Killdeer, and Red-winged Blackbirds, plus flybys by Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks and Northern Harriers. The main driving loop produced nothing spectacular but good sightings of: Roseate Spoonbills, Great Blue and Little Blue Herons, Black-necked Stilts, Blue-winged Teals, White and White-faced Ibis, Great and Cattle Egrets, Lincoln’s Sparrows and Crested Caracara.
My sister-in-law Jill, visiting from the UK, greatly enjoyed our several days of birding in the Valley, on S Padre Island, at Rockport, around the Sheldon-Anahuac-Bolivar-Brazoria loop, and at Edith Moore Sanctuary in Houston, as well as our yard in Cypress. While we missed a lot of both common and special birds, she was pleased with the 145 species she saw. She increased her US life-list from 112 (seen on an earlier visit to the San Francisco Bay Area) to 187 species.
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