Saturday, April 4, 2015

03_23 to 28_2015 High Island TX - Birding

Neither of us have ever been. That is especially crazy given I grew up in Houston only an hour or so from this awesome birding destination.

Though we were a week or two early from peak migration, we still had a blast and plan on returning next year.

A highlight was Smith Oaks where the rookery was heating up. We saw nesting, displaying, and nest-building Great Egrets, Spoonbills and Snowy Egrets. 
We stayed watching at the rookery for hours! It was endlessly entertaining.

Here you see a Great Egret flying. Check out the beautiful green at the base of the bill and flowy feathers off his tail. Gorgeous.
At the base of the rookery was a big gator. Many more were in the water.  I love that the Houston area has gators!
One bird I really wanted Dave to see is the Scissortail Flycatcher. Though everyone said we were too early for them, some Scissortails felts differently. This one provided a great show! They are sketchy and don't let people get too close.
We went to the rookery each day we were there. It was so fun! Here we watched a couple of Great Egrets building their nest. 
While in the area, we also hit the Anahuac Wildlife Refuge which was really fun. Lots of great birds - and gators there!

This is an Eastern Meadowlark. They look identical to Western Meadowlark and differ in song only. I think this is an awesome photo.
Several Red-Bellied Woodpeckers provided a nice show. Both a male and female hunted for bugs in a tree near us to our delight.
Palm Warbler!  A first for both of us. We were walking around the Refuge and this little guy popped out, showed his diagnostic markings, posed for a photo and was gone. Very exciting!
A cool find in the Refuge was an alligator nest. We counted about 20 with a very attentive mom gator watching our every move.
Dave ended up enjoying the birds at the beach more than I think we both thought he would. Here a couple of Brown Pelicans watch the tide.
While in the area, we always head to Brazos Bend State Park. The first bird we say was a lot of Black Vultures. Pretty in their own way and we owe a lot to them for cleaning up carcasses for us!
White Ibis were around and hunting.
Gorgeous Black-Crowned Night Heron hunting.
The gators were big and active. I'd hoped they'd be rumbling but they didn't. Still we saw a little bit of scrapping going on.
They were everywhere. Many were on the path making our decisions regarding which way we went.
Smiling for the camera!
Another treat during this day was there were many American Bitterns hunting. They were completely entertaining as well. They wiggle just like cats when they are ready to pounce on prey.
Dave loved the Tri-Colored Herons (another first for us). He says they look like dragons, and they do! This bird was hunting and active. I deemed him the warbler of herons given his high energy
This big arse gator was blocking our path. As I stood watching her wondering what we'd do (we needed to get back), she got up and headed out. 
And finally, a Yellow-Crowned Night Heron posed for Dave while the bird hunted for dinner.

We flew home and I had to leave right away. Then the day I returned, Dave headed west. He'll bring some fun photos from that trip soon!

Dave in Cochise - Part II

During the same trip, Dave had another friend join him to climb. 
Meet Mr. X.  Here he is with Mrs. X heading up with Dave to climb.
Cool photo of Dave with the Rockfellows
Heading up a pitch - looks like fun rock.
But doesn't look like fun weather!
Cool plates
You can see some folks across the way on a climb called Run for You Life. It has only a couple of bolts. If one fell, they'd take a long fall!
Mr X heading up
There's Dave
Top of climb selfie!
To get to the rappel station, one has to make a groveling move under a boulder.
These arrows show the climb they did that day.
Pretty sunset over Boxtop.

Heading in for more the next day.
The pink arrows mark the route they are heading up.
There goes Dave!
And Mr. X. I believe Mrs. X took the photo.
Hanging out
The base of the next route.
Gorgeous sunset
Another view of Cochise
Dave loving the evening
He headed to Sierra Vista to do some birding. 
You likely remember the blimp from earlier posts when we've birded at an old homestead here.
Dave was driving ultimately to pick up Quinn from the airport. He flew in to do his first climbing at Cochise.

And he enjoyed Dave's new port-o-pooper!
Back at Cochise. Quinn gets his first look.
Heading in
And heading up!
Quinn- seems he really loved the place.
It was a bit cool though.
There goes Dave
And Quinn
Summit Selfie!!
More climbing
Taking a break
And goofing off!
Heading up yet another route.
With Quinn belaying. Great trip!