Birthday Eve Photo Road Trip

The weather could have been better…But I drug myself out of bed and hit the road before sunup…heading south, going to the beach…hoping for a sunrise photo to remember the day. This is what I found…

Had I waited another day and traveled on my actual birthday the skies in these photos would have been the crystal blue color that only comes after a front moves through. But even with the lighting situation forcing me to up the ISO on the camera I enjoyed the challenge of searching out the few photo opportunities I could come across.

Here was one such opportunity…After the past few years of rough weather, we have been seeing more of these full tree trunks that have washed down the rivers and into the  Gulf of Mexico.

I made a run up Surfside before crossing the Old Brazos River and driving down Quintana Beach. All in all I probably spotted five cars sitting and watching the waves during the entire run down both beaches. That works out to less than one per mile…You have to wonder at the overcrowding on Texas beaches during the winter…

My last stop on the coast was at the parking lot beside the Freeport jetty…Two fingers of granite blocks running out into the Gulf that protect Freeport Channel once the mouth of the Brazos River…Now running further to the west at Bryan Beach. I sat and watched a couple of grackles scratching around the trash can looking for food…Little did I know how emblematic of my trip those two birds would become.

After sitting for a spell and having a bit of the sandwich I had brought along I restarted the truck and headed for my next stop at Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge…

One of the things I noticed all morning was the way water was standing everywhere. Every field, every bar ditch, every little stream was had flowing water moving through it. The rains over the past couple of months have definitely recharged the water table. That could explain the lack of waterfowl in the refuge…It made for a quick tour…It almost seemed that there were more grackles it seemed than ducks and coots.

Strangely, I saw not a single goose or crane in the drive around the auto tour. On the trip from Freeport to the refuge I had spotted a small group of sandhill cranes feeding among some cattle far of the road. I expected to see at least a few at the refuge, but the refuge was almost almost bare. The wind and misty rain was even keeping the raptor population down and on trees.

Besides the Common Egret above, I captured this guy…

Which, if my perusal of the guides is correct, is a Tricolored Heron. On the web it said this species was called the Louisiana Heron which is the way it’s identified in my Peterson’s Birds of Texas.

Leaving the refuge I decide to wander my way home down some small county roads back towards Liverpool…This was the first thing to cause me to stop…

From the photo I can not identify this hawk…It could be any of a number of species. This is what we go through in Texas all winter long…Hawks perched on tree limbs, on telephone lines, on just about anything that gives them a view of what is going on down below…Driving on down the road led me to these two guys…

My very last stop was to photograph this guy…

The closest I can find in the books is a Marsh Hawk, but I can’t be sure. I do know this is the first one I have ever seen and I was really impressed. Sadly, it was sitting way to far from the road for me to get a really clear shot… (2017; I’ll almost guarantee this is a Mississippi Kite.)

All in all, it was a pretty good Birthday Photo Road Trip.

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