Birthday Road Trip 2012

On my way down to the coast for my annual Birthday Beach Trip I swung through the Auto Tour portion of Brazoria Wildlife Refuge. I used to spend a lot of time there, but in the past few years the number of birds that call this part of the refuge home has dwindled with the amount of water in the lakes. Even before last years drought, the water levels had dropped for years. Yesterday all I saw was a very few ducks a few dozen snow geese and some blackbirds… Not what I used to see.

My beach visit didn’t last as long as some past years either. I know we all talk about this being the winter that isn’t, but I think it was the coldest beach day yet. I am sure the overcast of the morning was the biggest reason. Later in the day when the sun managed to burn through the day turned fairly mild.

The shot above was one of the few I actually took at the beach before heading back over the Intercoastal Canal to the mainland and turning my track north to more friendly parts of Brazoria County.

The one thing that really hit me hard on this trip was how green everything is this winter. After last summer’s seared color scheme, the winter’s green and brown scheme is a bit disconcerting. The brown almost all the winter trees while the greens are the grasses that should not be showing in the first week of February. Just about everywhere I looked along the way, wildflowers were starting to bloom. Redbud trees were showing color already. The first blush of color was showing in some tree species. A freeze now will cause big damage.

Heading back home I made a stop at the Nash Prairie Preserve and Brazos Bend State Park. The Nash Prairie still amazes me when I stop and sit a spell. Just that this little pasture along a county road is almost untouched after all the years Texans have put their stamp on this land is just unbelievable. I am trying to get a feel for the place through the seasons, so I make regular trips by the place. I usually park at the road, take a few pictures, and then just sit and listen to the wind and the birds. The past couple of trips, the birds I am hearing most often are the sandhill cranes feeding in the fields around the area or flying over headed to those very same fields.

The hawk above was feasting on a road-killed hog laying just below this fence post. He was loath to leave his prize to the turkey buzzards hanging about, so he posed for a good long time as I sat in the truck snapping shots. This time of year the raptors are everywhere. Driving around north of the state park I hit a stretch of road where I saw a dozen red-tailed hawks within a half mile. It seemed as if every power pole had it’s own hawk.

For more photos of the trip you can check out these photo galleries:

7 thoughts on “Birthday Road Trip 2012”

  1. Hey Gary. This has been a difficult winter even up here in the northeast. We have had precious few days (or nights) below freezing. I have roses budded and the weeping willow trees are already wearing their vibrant spring green. You’d think it was the fore part of May. This can not be good. And even if we suddenly have a vicious late winter freeze, it won’t be sustained enough to prevent a bumper crop of wood ticks, this summer, to make life ever-lovingly miserable. But no….no evidence of climate change….nooo….

    1. I am more afraid of what this winters new growth of every thing vegetable will do when it meets the return of the drought this summer. Most of the “experts” are predicting that Texas is in for a years long drought situation. I only hope they are wrong.

      But yea…no evidence of climate change….nooo….

  2. I need to make time/find time to get out and about a bit more. I haven’t seen a single sandhill this year, and I’m still anxious to get to Nash Prairie. On the other hand, I have four bluejays outside my window this morning, happy to discover the old crone inside has decided the cold weather requires an extra portion of pecan halves.

    At least we’re moving away from the dry and warm winter that was predicted. Granted, our rain totals are only “normal” and not yet sufficient to begin making up deficits, but we can hope. Another year like last year would be completely devastating. Let’s hear it for a wet spring!

    And happy birthday to you – hope your personal new year is great!

    1. Hi Linda, I am waiting impatiently for the spring show on the Nash Prairie. I am not sure I ever wondered by in spring before.

      Your comment about the bluejays finely caused the light bulb over the head moment I’ve been troubling over all winter. Usually we have large flocks of bluejays all winter. They cycle through the yard between the mobs of robins. This year I have been relegated to just a few and had been wondering why…Then I snapped after your comment…No nuts. Our pecans didn’t produce anything this year. There were limited acorns falling from the oaks. No nuts…No jays.

      Even if the rain we are having is only “normal” I know the ditches in my area are holding water again where there hasn’t been any in the past two years. Even if the rains continue, we are going to be seeing trees drop for the next few years. It won’t be pretty.

      And thanks for the birthday wishes…

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