Great White Egret

Galveston Island – Texas.

Species seen 29.

Today we left Houston bound for three days on the Gulf coast, arriving at Galveston we took the road along the sea front and soon come across a few White Pelicans in the bay. 
Scanning the mud flats gave us Great White, Little and Snowy Egret. A little further along the road was a field full of cattle, which of course had many Cattle Egrets amongst them. 

White Ibis
Stopping again in an area used for dropping off kayaking visitors, I got out for a few minutes to look at the pink birds in the distance; these were Roseate Spoonbills, sadly too far away for any photographs! Also seen here were White Ibis’s, Tricolour Herons, Yellow Crowned Night Herons, Cormorants, Ringed Plovers and a single Long Billed Curlew.

Turkey Vulture
Back on the road again and high above were Turkey Vultures riding the thermals. On the roadside electricity cables were White Winged and Collared Doves, a single Eastern Kingbird as well as hundreds of Common Grackles.  We stopped and pulled over as two Turkey Vultures came to rest upon fence posts offering a relatively close shot. 

Long tailed Grackles could be seen sheltering under parked vehicles from the high temperatures with the Texas sunshine at a high 95 degrees.

Yellow Crowned Night Heron 

Birds seen around the ferry and beach area were 
Magnificent Frigatebird, Booby, Osprey, Laughing Gulls, Royal Terns & Black Skimmers. A great afternoons birding of which most was done from the comfort of an air con car!

Other birds seen were, Ruddy Turnstone, Dunlin, Sanderling, White Winged Dove, Collared Dove, Common Ground Dove, Rock Pigeon. 

One thing about Galveston is there are hundreds of Brown Pelicans around the area all giving fantastic views of them fishing by plunging in to the sea.

Brown Pelican
Brown Pelican

Black Skimmers

Houston Arboretum & Nature Center – Houston – Texas.

Bird species seen 12.

Today we took a drive to the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center which is located on the west side of Houston and situated within the Memorial Park area. This is and has been a picnic and camping place for Houston residents since the 1800’s.  As we arrived the clouds were grey and it looked like rain would be arriving at the same time as we did? Thankfully the rain managed to stay off, however the heat didn’t and this meant that our walk would be one of a leisurely slow pace, stopping every now and then to rest to take in more water. 

Taking the trails through the reserve we came upon swamps, meadows and woodland, the first birds seen were White Winged Doves which there were a great many followed by Starlings, American Crow, Mourning Dove, Mockingbird and American Robin. Stopping at the first swamp area for a short rest we noticed that many of the lily pads were moving, soon the reason was plain to see as the local Red Eared Slider Turtles were going about their business of feeding. 

As we walked around many of the fallen trees had Ground Skink Lizards posing motionless and at times were showing their bright orange throats. Swamp Rabbits were seen along with Fox Squirrels. On our approach to the birding platform overlooking Buffalo Bayou we were made aware of the other larger reptiles that inhabit this area, sadly we didn’t come across any Alligators, but were mindful that they are there and we needed to keep an eye out at all times.

Other birds of note were Red Headed Woodpecker, Red Tailed Hawk, Carolina Chickadee and Loggerhead Shrike.The highlight for me was to see my first ever Ruby Throated Hummingbird a truly fabulous tiny bird which is currently moving through Texas on its migration. 

A very exhausting day due to the high temperatures, but seeing todays wildlife was worth every moment. The Butterflies were in abundance, however keeping up with them proved to be impossoble! This Gulf Fritillary stayed just long enough for a record shot.

3rd of August 2013.

Thornton Reservoir – The National Forest – Leicestershire.

 Bird species seen 31.

Having seen many sightings reports on Twitter in the last few days of a Night Heron,  I decided today to drive up the M1 a few junctions to Thornton Reservoir  which is a National Forest site owned by Severn Trent Water. I’ve not been here before and as I arrived, it was clear by the amount of people clad with Binoculars, Scopes and Cameras that my target bird for the day was still around?

Making my way to the weir area, I soon saw small groups of birders who all had the Heron in sight. It was in amongst the trees and quite difficult to see. Having seen its location, there was no way of getting any photographs, so after half an hour I decided to take a walk to look at the wooded area. Here were quite a few Spotted Flycatchers that came and went along with Goldcrest, Goldfinch, and Willow Warblers. 

Walking back to get an update on the Heron’s position, I watched it take off from within the trees and fly away towards the visitors centre area! Off went the many birders towards the opposite bank to try and locate it again, which they did after a short time. I too watched from the bank for a while, however something made me think, it may go back again at some point to the same area? Off I went with an optimistic attitude to where it was seen earlier. Once there and while talking to a couple about the many Flycatchers we couldn’t believe it, the Night Heron returned and dropped in, right in front of us. Here are a few records of this rare vagrant.

Birds seen today were, Blackbird, Black Headed Gull, Blue Tit, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coot, Feral Pigeon, Goldcrest, Great Crested Grebe, Great Tit, House Martin, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Little Grebe, long Tailed Tit, Mallard, Moorhen, Mute Swan, NIGHT HERON, Reed Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Swallow, Treecreeper, Tufted Duck, Willow Warbler, Wood Pigeon and Wren.

Butterflies, Meadow Brown, Large White, Green Veined White, Red Admiral and Peacock.