December 27 was the Old River CBC, and as we have done for the last several years, a group of us set off into the morning fog to see what birds we could see and count them. Our crew consisted of. from left to right Dave Portz, Harmon Everett, and Christie Long, of the Houston canoe Club, and Bruce Bodson, of Galveston Baykeeper. Our route included Pickett's Bayou, The Cutoff, and Old River, going from Trinity River NWR, to FM 1409 in Old River-Winfree.
It was a warm foggy morning, which made the cypress look eerie, but kept the alligators comfortable enough to appear.
The birds were a bit elusive in the morning fog and the species mix was a bit surprising, with dozens of lingering tree swallows, and a large contingent of golden-crowned kinglets. Both species of cormorant were present along with a large number of anhingas. We also saw osprey, good numbers of wood ducks, a smattering of herons and egrets, and the usual winter residents. Altogether, we saw 43 species, which is a bit light for this count. The count as a whole will probably approach 150 species.
This area is as close to wilderness as we get around Houston, so boat management skills occasionally become as important as birding.
Note that Harmon is actually in the river instead of the boat.
We made it to FM 1409 with daylight to spare.
We covered about 14 miles in about 7.5 hours, including a lunch stop. It was a lovely day on the water, only marred by having to tiptoe around some rotting feral hog carcasses at the take out.
I'm not sure why boat launches and carcass disposal seem to go together, but they certainly do at Old River. I was told that the launch is actually considerably cleaned up from a couple of weeks ago.
Remember, there is still time to sign up for the San Jacinto Wilderness CBC, on January 1. Fifteen miles of Peach Creek, Caney Creek and the East Fork of the San Jacinto will help you work off your oysters from Folks 'N Oysters, and get right on that New Year's Resolution to exercise more!