Monday, January 02, 2006

Monday at Cattail Marsh

As we were getting ready to leave the house today I got a new bird for the yard list - Killdeer! Didn't see the bird, but heard its distinctive whistled call as it flew over.

Michelle and I did the long walk around Cattail Marsh today. Cattail Marsh is located adjacent to Tyrrell Park in Beaumont. We started with a little trepidation - the parking area for the marsh is a secluded site off the park loop road, and there are usually people loitering there suspiciously. Today was no exception, but we overcame our apprehensions and spent several hours walking around the ponds without incident.

Waterfowl were abundant, with about a dozen species of ducks present (2-3 male Cinnamon Teal were a good find). It was T-shirt weather, warm enough for reptiles and swarms of insects to be active, and we both got a little sunburned (can this really be the beginning of January?). Michelle noticed a snake curled up in the grass along the edge of one of the ponds, and it turned out to be a Cottonmouth! She snapped off a couple of pictures of it with her new digital camera.

On the levees between the ponds we occasionally came across piles of duck feathers - looked like the hawks and harriers had been busy lately. Here's one of our more grisly finds...


Michelle also tried her hand at digiscoping, with mixed results. Combining her camera with my scope she was able to get some decent pictures, although it wasn't easy and took patience. A couple of her more successful attempts can be viewed below.

Funny thing about the second photo above - Michelle and I were both focused on the pair of Blue-winged Teal, and when the picture was taken neither of us noticed that there was a Tricolored Heron sneaking in from the left!

After leaving Cattail Marsh we visited the Beaumont Botanical Gardens in Tyrrell Park. Sadly we found that the gardens had been totally devastated by Hurricane Rita, and it didn't look like any cleanup work had been done since the storm. Paths were still blocked by fallen trees, and many structures were damaged or destroyed. It's gonna take a lot of hard work to restore the gardens to their former beauty, and Michelle said that she would like to help (after the wedding of course, we are both too busy now to take on any new projects). At least all those fallen trees and piles of debris provide good cover for wrens and White-throated Sparrows - I encountered an unusually large flock of the latter there.


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