Birthday Road Trip 2013

I had spent the week watching the weather forecast. A week ago they were forecasting fog for the day. By Monday the forecast had a 70% chance of rain. By Tuesday the chances were up to 80% and it was looking like a washout. But tradition is tradition. So I loaded the truck in dripping fog and headed towards the beach.

On the way south I swung through the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge. I saw some Sandhill Cranes in the distance through the fog. They were landing in twos and threes, settling in to feed in the water covered fields.

There was a large flock that I took to be Little Blue Herons feeding at the out feed area of a flooded field. And that was all before I made it to the auto tour area…A mixed flock of dark adults and white juveniles. All in all there were probably almost a hundred birds in a group.

Once in the tour area I saw a number of Red-tailed Hawks cruising just above the vegetation. I also spotted a few Northern Harriers flying through the area. One of the things I like about this time of the year is the raptors that are so prevalent. You see them sitting on the tops of trees, on the power lines, even sitting on the tops of shrubs above the grasses.

The ponds in the refuge had more water than I have seen in the past few years, but not as much as I would see in my earliest trips. There were a few small rafts of mixed ducks, I was only able to identify a small raft of Northern Pintails through the fog.

I saw a mixed group of geese on the far side of one of the ponds. Much smaller than the groups I have seen in past years. As I drove along the tour route I would flush flocks of Killdeer that would fly along beside the car before wheeling off in another direction.

I bypassed Surfside this year and drove through Freeport towards Bryan Beach. On the way through town I swung down by the marina and took this shot…

Freeport Docks

That’s the storm gate in the background through the fog.

But it was getting late and the beach called…

Bryan Beach

The fog was blowing and getting thicker by the minute, so I took a few pictures and listened to the surf for a few minutes before heading out…

Bryan Beach
Here is a closeup of the washed up flotsam on the beach…
Bryan Beach Floatsom
Leaving the beach I headed north on Texas 36, if the weather held I had three more stops planned. First I was going to hit Hudson Woods. This was a new site for me. I wasn’t even aware of this preserve even though I had driven through the neighborhood it hid behind years ago. Second would be a lunch time stop at the Nash Prairie. Last but not least would be a stop at Brazos Bend State Park.
As I passed through Jones Creek the rain began to fall. And it continued to fall the rest of the day. I stopped at the Hudson Woods and parked for a while to see if the rain would let up and allow me a chance to explore a bit. As the time closed in on noon, I decided to put off exploring Hudson Woods until another trip. So I drove into West Columbia and picked up some lunch before heading for the Nash Prairie Preserve. I pulled onto the access road and stopped…Ate my lunch…Rolled down the window and watched the rain come down. I noticed that every time a car would pass a flock of sparrows would fly into the prairie from the road and then fly back to the edge of the road until the next car passed.
I took a couple of shots out the window…
Nash Prairie
When I took the shot above I knew there was a bird in the picture. When I was downloading them I noted that there were two. Here is a crop of just the center of that shot…
Nash Prairie Detail
After another twenty minutes or so I decided to give up on the rain and Brazos Bend and head on toward home. So ended my Birthday Road Trip for 2013. In truth, even though the photo ops were pretty dismal… and the rain kept falling for most of the day… I enjoyed the trip. There was little or no traffic all day long. At the beach I only saw one other vehicle. I saw no one in the Wildlife Refuge.

6 Comments

  1. February 10, 2013    

    I’m such a huge fan of fog and isolated stretches of beach, I’m filled with admiration for your photos. It looks like a wonderful day. And isn’t it fun to get home, upload pics and find little surprises, like your birds?

    What in the world is that stuff on the beach? It looks like kelp. Do we have kelp here? I’ve never seen it except on the west coast – I thought it was a cold water plant. Maybe this is a variety of something I’ve just missed. I know sargassum, but I’ve never seen any other kinds. I went looking on google but couldn’t find anything – and many of the articles and photos that called our seaweed “kelp” clearly were talking about sargassum. Interesting.

    I’ve been spending a little time over at a preserve on Egret Bay Blvd here in League City. It backs up to the bayous connecting to Clear Creek, and it’s really quite nice. Down at the waterside, there are plenty of tracks – deer, raccoon, possum and bobcat. The last time I was there, the tracks were so fresh I took a look around an very quietly just backed my way to the walking paths again. They’ve got signs posted to be careful of the wildlife. I don’t believe I’ll be going down to the bayou there at sunset or just after. 😉

    • February 10, 2013    

      Some of my favorite photos have been taken in fog. As for the flotsam…It appeared to be pant nodules or bulbs of some sort with stem and leaves mixed in. I’ve seen it before in the winter. Sometimes it is even thicker than this trip.

      I had really hoped to spend some time in the Hudson Woods. I had no idea they existed until you mentioned them a while back. After that I saw them mentioned on a number of other sites and looked them up.

  2. February 10, 2013    

    Oh! My gosh! I was so taken with your photos I forgot – Happy birthday! I hope this next year is storm free and more fun than ever!

  3. February 10, 2013    

    Here’s one of the best webcams I’ve ever seen – a nesting hummingbird. She’s already raised one brood. There’s one egg in the nest now, just laid today. Amazing to be able to watch such a thing!

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