Katy Prairie Repeated
2013 ~ If you recall, I made an attempt to report on the Katy Prairie a month or so ago. The Katy Prairie Conservancy gets great press; I see articles about all the good works and efforts in the local press. As I told you, the website leaves something to be desired as far as descriptions and maps. But I am stubborn, and I wanted to try again.
This time I read up on exactly where I wanted to go. Nelson Farms sounded neat, and there was a viewing platform. The website said there were ponds and waterfowl. And from their convoluted directions I was able to drop a pin on my map so Siri could help me find it.
I am good with the all these road name changes now. The exit I actually want from the Katy Freeway is the Katy-Ft Bend County Road and it goes right to the County Park I found last time.
Turn left and that road becomes Sharp Road and after some right-left-right turns.. well, there I am.
So, the only complication is that it is 37 deg F but I am desperate to get out of the house and see some birds. I have on layers of clothes and I have my new nifty gloves.
Want to see them? The little pocket flips over and covers up your fingers when you are not operating the camera or the binoculars.
And I head out with an extra coat in the car just in case. I stopped by my office parking garage to check out the sunrise. I have no explanation for this but it is in the direction of the ship channel and all the industry. If anyone wants to hazard a guess, feel free in the comments. It was after the Mayan Apocalypse for your information.
When I reached the turn off at Paul Rushing Park, I decided to take a little break and check out the boardwalks. This is where I saw all the sparrows last time and the Great Egret capturing a fish. So I hiked over to the lakes.
This is an American Pipit. It is a bit bigger than a sparrow, and has a more slender, pointed beak. Sparrows have conical beaks and generally are seed eaters. This guy was walking around in the mud flats eating bugs. That is another clue it isn't a sparrow. Sparrows hop, these guys walk. Rather, they scurry around, almost always in motion and wagging their tail.
The heron was so cold he had one leg tucked up for warmth. You can see him eying me; I was sneak sneak sneak up to get a closer shot. This is just before he had enough of me and flew away.
I had had enough of the cold, too, so I left and traveled on towards Nelson Farms. And this is what I found:
I turned in the drive as per the directions and ...
Seems I have been thwarted again. I will not give up, and I headed down the road to where the viewing platform should be. After a little bit, the paved road stopped and I was on gravel. OK. I can do this. And soon I was rewarded with the fabled viewing platform.
There is a small pond visible from the top part of the platform. Actually, the view is quite nice and I got this great shot:
All along this gravel road I kept seeing huge flocks of blackbirds. They were in all the fields.
They were in the trees and bushes and even in the middle of the road.
Some Redwinged blackbirds, but the female and juveniles blackbirds are shades of brown. There could be Brown headed cowbirds mixed in with Brewers Blackbirds. They all winter here. And you can't just look at ONE, they move in these... well.. flocks!
Sometimes my car would startle them but often they just flew off in these swirling masses. It was quite impressive.
I did see two deer in a wooded area, but of course they were gone before I could get stopped and get the camera. And I am still upset over the hawk shot I missed. But that is the way birding is.
There was a herd of cows near the road gathered around a stock tank.
And there were several Black Vultures in attendance.
I could have stayed there with the cows for a while, but the sun went behind the clouds, the wind picked up and I got really cold.
But as the Gipper used to say about unexpected events... there must be a pony in here somewhere! And there was.
There was a small enclosure with 5 miniature horses close to the road. They were frisky in the cold weather, and my auto-focus, all the fencing and cold temperatures made me give up too soon.
Maybe I will go back when it is warmer. There are several other parts marked on the maps. I have learned not to expect a regular park or official area. The Katy Prairie is a state of mind.
Have you been out to the Katy Prairie? Did you wish for a pony when you were a kid? Are you jealous of my niffty-neat-o flip top gloves?