Harris Co. Salt Water and a Long-tailed Duck

Today I made the circuit of eastern Harris Co. sticking close to the bay for most of the day. I again failed to see any Snowy Plovers at El Jardin beach, but there were plenty of gulls to sort through. I crossed the bridge onto the Baytown side and worked methodically down the coast, finally finding my first Eared Grebe for the county, but nothing unusual. Stops at the fish camps and Baytown Nature Center turned up the expected winter birds, Common Goldeneye, Red-breasted Mergansers, Common Loon, a smallish loon flying off the bay at the nature center looked interesting, but unfortunately flew straight out of sight. Highland Reservoir held good numbers of birds, with four Crested Caracaras at a carcass, a juvenile Bald Eagle sitting in the field and a Merlin among Northern Harriers and Red-tailed Hawks. The fields alos held half a dozen Sprague’s Pipits and what looked like a Le Conte’s Sparrow. I eventually worked my way into a position from where I could scope the geese, but found mainly Snow and a few Ross and White-fronted.

The next serious stop was San Jacinto Monument, where after about five minutes of scanning the scaup flock and Long-tailed Duck popped up. I watched the bird remain in a sleeping postion for 40 minutes until it became slightly more active. Later in the evening it preened actively and many of us were able to enjoy this neat bird, which is rare in Harris Co. Fortunately many birders where able to come admire it before sunset. Nothing else of note at the monument.

Long-tailed Duck Harris Co. Photo Stephan Lorenz

Long-tailed Duck Harris Co. Photo Stephan Lorenz

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