My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Friday, November 30, 2012

Bird Watching at Brazos Bend State Park

Take a friend, a beautiful warm fall day, and a few good birds and you have the recipe for a wonderful outing.

My friend, Becki, and I hadn't birded together in over a year so it was great to meet her at Brazos Bend State Park and do a little preview for the Christmas count. We agreed to meet there at 8:00 A.M. but we were both there by 7:30 A.M. and immediately started looking for birds. We started at Creekfield Lake and found these white ibis and blue-wing teal, and pie-billed grebe. The lake is very shallow and there were few species or numbers of birds about.

 We also found these beautiful camphor daisies.

 Then we walked through a mostly empty woods, seeing only some cardinals, and a few sparrows, although we heard a titmouse. Soon we were walking towards the tower. We kept seeing this immature male vermillion flycatcher and I was finally able to get at least this ID picture of him.  The other flycatchers we saw were lots of Phoebes and a probable western kingbird.

 Both of us took lots of pictures of these three birds feeding together, singly, in pairs and all together. From left to right is a little blue heron, a young tri-color heron, and a white ibis.

 There were lots of great egrets fishing. I particularly liked this one with coots all around.

 We saw several great blue herons.  They are usually harder to find since they mostly sit very still.

The only ducks we could find were blue-wing teal and black-bellied whistling ducks. These were the closest to us.

 When we got to the day use area, we found this kestrel to far away to get a decent picture of it. We also heard and saw red tail and red shoulderd hawks.

The day was so warm we saw three alligators out. Alligators don't when the weather gets below  61 degrees but they will come out and sun on warm days.

 Most of the black-bellied whistling ducks were sleeping in large groups, but a few were awake and  feeding. I saw my life black-bellied whistling duck here when I did my first Brazos Bend Christmas Count in 1990 and have loved them ever since. 

 We only found a few juvenile white ibises. I am often asked what species of birds these are. The birds get more and more white on them as they grow up.  It takes at least two years for them to turn completely white.But I only saw maybe five juveniles all day. I hope they had a better year than it appeared from the few juveniles around.

 Surprisingly, we only saw two killdeer. This was one of them.

We saw several turtles but only this time saw two species together.

Becki and I also visited the nature center since she had never been there. We had a good visit with the two volunteers and one of them got out one of the baby alligators they keep for a short time in a tank. This little guy was three months old.  He was one of a group of eggs hatched  by the volunteers they will later be released and replaced by new babies. 

It was not the wildest day I have had watching birds, but we had time to catch up a little while we walked five miles and took lots of pictures. All in all it was a lovely, relaxing day.