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Common Nighthawk

Senior Bus Trip to Smith Point

It was a typical hot steamy fall day on the upper Texas coast on Tuesday, September 26, 2017, but that did not slow our hearty group of bus trippers. We headed to Smith Point from Memorial City Mall under sunny skies anticipating lots of raptors. Along the round trip route we saw:

Rock Pigeon
Great-tailed Grackle
Cattle Egret
Turkey Vulture
Black Vulture
Great Egret
European Starling
Crested Caracara
Great Blue Heron
Belted Kingfisher
Northern Mockingbird
Blue Jay
Green Heron
Red-tailed Hawk
Roseate Spoonbill

When we arrived at Smith Point there was a small kettle of Broad-winged Hawks and lots of hummers. There were few raptors but some fun migrants in the oak motte for those who would dare to venture into the den of spiders and mosquitoes.

Here is our list we posted to eBird from our visit to the tower, the oak motte and Hawkins Camp Road:

Cormorant 1
Anhinga 7
American White Pelican 10
Brown Pelican 17
Great Blue Heron 3
Snowy Egret 3
White Ibis 6
Black Vulture 4
Turkey Vulture 4
Sharp-shinned Hawk 3
Broad-winged Hawk 4
American Oystercatcher 8
Ruddy Turnstone 23
Willet 4
Laughing Gull 3
Caspian Tern 1
Royal Tern 1
Black Skimmer 2
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 12
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Blue Jay 1
Barn Swallow 2
Carolina Chickadee 1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 4
Brown Thrasher 1
American Redstart 1
Magnolia Warbler 1
Black-throated Green Warbler 2
Wilson's Warbler 1
Northern Cardinal 1

We ate lunch at the end of Hawkins Camp Road and enjoyed the Oystercatchers loafing on the beach. We then headed to Turtle Bayou Nature Preserve. Turtle Bayou Nature Preserve is comprised of 514 acres of protected wetland, prairie and forested habitats along Turtle Bayou and Lake Anahuac in Chambers County. The Preserve is owned by the Chambers-Liberty Counties Navigation District, for the purposes of preserving coastal habitat and protecting water quality. Galveston Bay Foundation holds a conservation easement on the property to permanently protect the land.

The views from the observation platforms were great and the trails were also a pleasure to explore. We only stayed a little while due to the afternoon heat but managed to see or hear an Anhinga, Belted Kingfisher, Northern Cardinals, Pileated Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Killdeer, Carolina Wren and Carolina Chickadees. It was a great day and we look forward to our next adventure with the bus!