I did not plan it this way, but it turned out, on this trip, I did a tour-de-force of the most interesting birding places around Houston. (Click on each image to see the high-resolution version) My "tour" started humbly enough -- at the Seabourne Creek Nature Park in Rosenberg, and this Neotropical Cormorant obligingly posed for me.
Next, I would go to St. Bernard National Wildlife Refuge.
St. Bernard National Wildlife Refuge
The wetland habitat of St. Bernard is an excellent place to see water birds.
Here, I was also reacquainted with an older friend, the Pink Evening Primrose.
Pink Evening Primrose
I drove toward the Gulf of Mexico and through all the ugly (and smelly) oil refineries, and eventually reached Freeport. I made two stops at Quintana Beach and Surfside Beach, really two slivers of beach just a stone's throw away from a vast jungle of industrial buildings. But if one can block out the distracting and disturbing elements, the beaches can look almost natural.
I did not see many birds on the beach besides a few usual suspects.
But just when I was leaving, a Loggerhead Shrike landed on a side right in front of my car and posed for me. This was a pleasant surprise.
On my way back to Houston, I stopped at Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge. Light was fading in the late afternoon, but the water birds were actively foraging. I took the auto road and took most of these pictures from my car.
Even an American Pipit popped up, at that time a new bird for me, and I happily snapped a few pictures of it.
The next day, I actually made another trip to Surfside Beach. At that time, I was reading Kenn Kaufmann's Kingbird Highway, a wonderful book and a cult classic among birders. At the end of the book, he talked about the A-frame buildings (where they stayed the night before their Christmas Bird Count) and the Freeport Jetty where he manned for the day. Semi-seriously, I paid a pilgrimage to this site. A few years later, I made yet another visit.
My last outing was at Brazos Bend State Park, one of my favorite places around Houston. Here, wildlife sightings are guaranteed.
Water birds (herons, waders, ducks and geese) are the mainstay at Brazos Bend, and you can also count on getting close to them.
Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Black-bellied Whistling Ducks
An Eastern Phoebe also popped up over the wetlands, hawking insects.