Urban Birding

Urban Birding

You might be surprised how many interesting and varied birds you can find in your backyard, your neighborhood and within the city. I know, I tell you about driving off to Brazos Bend or Anahuac, but there are plenty of opportunities to see and photograph birds without driving for hours.

The photography group I joined has been heading off to Galveston, getting there at DAWN for good light, and seemed to plan things when I wasn't available. But, they finally scheduled a photography session that worked out for me. We planned to meet up and see Bald Eagles! I mean, how cool is that? I was really looking forward to this one and finally it was the day.

This pair of Bald Eagles have a nest on the east side of town, not too far out. I am not going to give the exact location for obvious reasons. But, it was not hard for me to meet them at a restaurant parking lot one Sunday morning at 7am.

View of the Bald Eagles from the street

View of the Bald Eagles from the street

I mean, anyone could see them while driving down the street if you just looked. I see hawks flying over Town & Country Mall all the time. Just look up sometimes, ya'll.

So we parked and locked up and finally found a way into the woods from the street. To get closer to the birds, we had to pass by the nest.

Eagle nest in that tallest pine tree really far away.

Eagle nest in that tallest pine tree really far away.

See the nest in the top of that pine tree? The other birders told me it is a permanent nest; they use it every year. This group had been earlier when they were incubating the eggs. So. now the chicks would be just about ready to learn to fly.

Closer view of the nest which is HUGE!

Closer view of the nest which is HUGE!

This area is totally overgrown, but there are numerous paths. We are going to have a bumper crop of brambles and berries this year. I almost tripped a couple of times. So there we are, all bundled up with hats and gloves. I am carrying little camera and all the rest have 2-foot long lenses and tripods. A lot of serious optics entering the woods that morning.

First close up view of the Eagles

First close up view of the Eagles

This was my very first shot of the pair and I was so reassured that I had a chance to get some good photos. It was still early and very cold. The eagles are lit by the early morning sun.

Mr. and Mrs. Eagle

Mr. and Mrs. Eagle

They are in this dead tree with dead vines. Not lovely dead crap at all; we all kept moving to try to get a clear shot without all those branches.

Mostly the eagles just sat there and looked back at the nest. They turned a bit, looked at each other sometimes. But they just perched. I have 47 pictures of them perching in case you are interested.

So I entertained myself with other things.

Real lovely dead crap

Real lovely dead crap

Meanwhile, the eagles stayed in their tree. There were about a dozen of us, spread out over the area waiting for the birds to take off and fly back to the nest.

Eagles looking at birders looking at eagles

Eagles looking at birders looking at eagles

Suddenly, there was great excitement. They were moving! I knew I would just put my camera down and watch if they took off. (Usually, I get so excited I forget to take pictures).

The eagle has pooped!

The eagle has pooped!

It was a false alarm. The one on the left pooped. The one on the right seemed to think it was interesting.

I wandered around.

Reflections in the Undisclosed Bayou

Reflections in the Undisclosed Bayou

The area we were in is part of the flood plain for the bayou. It is always sad to see how much trash and paper and plastic gets caught on the banks. I was about 15 feet above the water level; a couple of days of serious rain can cause this to be completely full and out of the banks.

Textures and deposits

Textures and deposits

Directly across the bayou are some retaining wall structures holding back a huge hill. I was surprised how high it actually is. Looking at Google Maps, there is a large area behind this with a built up berm. Interesting. I always come home from these adventures with more questions!

Anyway, I digress. I just liked the way the algae and deposits made patterns on the walls and were reflected back.

I went back to check on the eagles.

Majestic Bald Eagle pair

Majestic Bald Eagle pair

Still there. Folks were beginning to move out as we had been watching them for well over an hour. I went back by the nest and I could see with my binoculars one of the chicks. The fledglings are full sized when they leave the nest; but they have juvenile plumage for several years. I only saw one and it was jumping up and down and flapping its wings.

Practicing.

After that I headed back to the car. I had seen one eagle fly by me, very low. My skills for in-flight are not so pretty good and I was happy with the shots I had.

Have you ever seen a Bald Eagle? Do you see hawks and vultures flying around the city? Do you remember to look up once in a while?

Snowy Egrets

Snowy Egrets

Adventures Amiss

Adventures Amiss