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South Africa (ZA)   Two and a half days in Texas - Part 1/2  -  Categories: USA  -  @ 11:51:57 pm

Brazos Bend State Park , Houston, Texas - 01 July 2011

Through BirdingPal and Houston Audobon Society I had made contact with Glen Olsen ( a professional and local guide to make the best out of my weekend's focussed birding. As mentioned before, 4th July weekend was not ideal but Glen was able to put together an itienary to maximise the bird count without having to spend too much time travelling. We finished our last training day at 2pm and Glen suggested we use the late afternoon and early evening to explore the really great Brazos Bend State Park, which was not too far from the hotel. Images by Mike Pope

On the way to Brazos Bend we stopped at a bridge to check out the nesting Cliff Swallows

Cliff Swallow

Here an adult returning to it's nest

Cliff Swallow

Brazos Bend has a mix of fresh water pans and some fantastic mature woodland and the best way to see it was to park and walk. As quite a bit of birding was inside the mature woodland, I needed to use some flash again to boost the light. First bird up was a Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren

Next was a family of Red-bellied Woodpeckers

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Once out of the woodland, we walked the path next to one of the large pans where we added many more species to the growing list - a Great Blue Heron looking quite regal

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

We did quite well on the Heron's - finding a skulking Green Heron

Green Heron

A showy Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron

A hunting Tricoloured Heron - going from looking for prey into stealth mode

Tricoloured Heron

Tricoloured Heron

Tricoloured Heron

as well as good numbers of Yellow-crowned Night Herons feeding during the day, whihc I thought was quite unusual for this species, considering we didnt see any Black-crowned Night Herons doing the same

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

A Snowy Egret hunting quietly in a small pool

Snowy Egret

A White Ibis perched above us, whilst many others shared the pan with the Egrets and Herons

White Ibis

A distant Wood Stork (an early Autumn migrant) dropped in

Wood Stork

Again I was surprised at the number of Alligators there were in even small patches of water - so you certainly had to keep your distance on some of the banks


The pans also held numbers of Moorhen


Here a Moorhen squaring up to an American Coot - the Moorhen did back down, obvious I guess!

Moorhen and American Coot

I missed a picture of a skulking Purple Swamphen, but did get the Purple Gallinule

Purple Gallinule

A Boat-tailed Grackle, separated from Great-tailed by a dark eye

Boat-tailed Grackle

A small bird flying in gave us Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

In the tree next door, a male Northern Cardinal followed by the female

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Glen suggested we move to a different part of the Park, to try for new species. Here there were some magnificent old trees along the water body. An inquisitive Anhinga watched us before departing to roost in a tree


It must have spooked a Red-shouldered Hawk that was roosting quietly in the shade of one of the trees - here being bombarded by a Red-winged Blackbird as it makes it's getaway

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Not long after this great show, another raptor overhead was a Mississippi Kite - one of those on my want list

Mississippi Kite

By this time, we needed to start heading back to the hotel and got a pair of roosting Black Vultures

Black Vulture

Driving along some quiet farm roads produced Eastern Meadowlark

Eastern Meadowlark

I picked up two small fast moving birds in one field that turned out to be Northern Bobwhite in the fading light, which Glen was thrilled to see. My camera was on the wrong setting, but I still like the feel of this image as they make their getaway

Northern Bobwhite

I had attached my flash for this Killdeer


Our final bird of the day was this magnificent Great Horned Owl - taken from the opposite side of the road at ISO 1000 and lens wide open - I was very satisfied with the result as well as the great birds seen today, with many lifers. Tomorrow would be a full day's birding with Glen and an early start, that I was already looking forward to.

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl


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