Tag Archive for: eagle

East Fork Water Shockingly Clear with Mines Closed

The attorney general has had production at the Triple PG mine on Caney Creek shut down and the breaches in the mine’s dikes closed since early November. Also, the Texas Concrete mine in Plum Grove on the East Fork closed. And the TCEQ is forcing them to fix breaches and replant exposed areas before abandoning the mine. It could just be a coincidence, but water clarity on the East Fork and Caney Creek have improved to a shocking degree with both of the major mines out of action. See below. Said Kingwood resident John Knoerzer, “This is the clearest I’ve ever seen the East Fork.”

Photo taken by John Knoerzer on East Fork at East End Park on 12/20/2019.

It’s not Cozumel, but it’s far better than the opaque brown liquid we had.

Return of Eagles

Resident Josh Alberson reports that he’s seen cormorants, pelicans and bald eagles return to the East Fork and Caney Creek. “They were feasting on the white bass.” Says Alberson, “Last Sunday, we saw more birds than we had every seen working. It was National Geographic worthy, but I couldn’t get close enough to get any quality pics or video.” He attributes all the birds to both the bass and the clarity of the water. “It helps the birds spot the prey,” he says.

Only problem: there’s so much sand in Caney Creek that it’s hard to boat upstream. Josh Alberson informs me that his jet boat got stuck on a giant sand bar immediately downstream from the Triple PG mine. Boats with propellers can’t get through at all, he says.

Please Help Document Wildlife and Water Clarity

It seems to me that this change, if it is permanent, is important to document. Any boaters or jet skiers who can make it upstream, please send pics through the submissions page on this web site.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 12/21/2019

844 Days after Hurricane Harvey and 93 since Imelda

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.

Juvenile and Nesting Bald Eagles, Plus Other Area Wildlife Photos

Kingwood kayaker and wildlife photographer Emily Murphy has done it again. This time her great eye and quick reflexes captured this juvenile bald eagle flying over the San Jacinto West Fork near where Romerica proposes to build 25-50 story high rises. It’s evidence that eagles are nesting nearby.

Juvenile Bald Eagle photographed flying over the San Jacinto River West Fork by Emily Murphy. Catching birds in flight like this is very difficult. It requires a good eye and very fast reflexes. The equipment Murphy uses in her kayak weighs six to seven pounds, making it difficult to hold and maneuver while on the water.

The absence of white in the chin and cheeks of this eagle suggests it is very young and recently fledged. However, Fred Collins from Harris County Precinct 3, who is director of the Kleb Woods Nature Preserve in Tomball, thinks it is older. Says Klebs, “I think this is last year’s chick. I am fairly confident it is not this year’s hatch because it is molting.”

Regardless, the good news is that we seem to have an active and expanding eagle population on the San Jacinto and in Lake Houston. Below are a couple shots I took in January while on a ride-along with HPD Lake Patrol, graciously arranged by Houston City Council Member Dave Martin. Weather conditions were rough; the boat was pitching wildly. But we still photographed several eagles.

Bald Eagle photographed in Atascocita on Lake Houston from HPD Lake Patrol Boat on 1/31/2019 by Bob Rehak
Nesting Bald Eagle near Walden on Lake Houston. Photographed by Bob Rehak from HPD Lake Patrol Boat on 1/31/2019.

Other Area Wildlife

The Lake, River, swamps and wetlands this time of year teem with nesting birds of many species. Right about now, egrets are pairing up, building nests and laying eggs. So are the roseate spoonbills. Within a few weeks, chicks will hatch and by June, a new generation will be hunting the shorelines. Meanwhile, many other species are migrating through the area about now.

Get out and enjoy the wildlife in our wonderful parks! East End is a favorite location for birders. They have spotted more than 140 species there, including several that are threatened or endangered. Below are several shots that I took in the last two years.

Male great egret returning with stick to build nest. Photo by Bob Rehak.
Roseate Spoonbill in flight. Photo by Bob Rehak.
Female great egret preening on nest. Photo by Bob Rehak.
Great Egret Chicks. Feathers have still not unfurled. Photo by Bob Rehak.
Blue Grosbeak in meadow of East End Park. Photographed by Bob Rehak.
Tricolor Heron. Photo by Bob Rehak.
Black and White. Cormorant and Great Egret. Photo by Bob Rehak.

So grab your binoculars or camera and get out and enjoy this wonderful spring weather. After all, this is why we live here. Kingwood really is the livable forest!

Posted by Bob Rehak on 3/30/2019

578 Days since Hurricane Harvey

May You Always Walk in Beauty

A highly talented Kingwood photographer named Emily Murphy contacted me this week. The proposal to build high-rises near the river alarmed her. The impact on wildlife terrified her.

The Seldom-Seen World In Your Backyard

Emily often kayaks on the river with her camera. She has documented a world that few of us will ever see in person. But it’s there for everyone to see…with a little bit of effort. When she showed me her work, the beauty she revealed took my breath away.

It reminded me of a quote from Ansel Adams, America’s greatest landscape photographer. Adams, who died in 1984, was also one of the early leaders of the Sierra Club. He said…

“If you want to preserve something, inspire people with its beauty.”

– Ansel Adams

Below are some of the quiet, peaceful moments Emily Murphy experienced while paddling the San Jacinto River. All of these photos were taken within a few minutes of River Grove Park and the proposed site of the high-rise development.

Eagle photo Courtesy of Emily Murphy. Taken across the West Fork from where the proposed new high-rise development would go.
Taken from River Grove Park, looking east in morning mist toward the site of the proposed high-rise development. Photo Courtesy of Emily Murphy
American white pelicans and double-crested cormorants on the West Fork. Photo Courtesy of Emily Murphy
Quiet morning light in the backwaters of the West Fork. Photo Courtesy of Emily Murphy
Eagle flying near West Fork and Lake Houston, downstream from proposed high-rise development. Photo Courtesy of Emily Murphy.
Juvenile eagle easting fish east of River Grove Park. Photo Courtesy of Emily Murphy.
Roseate spoonbill on West Fork. Photo Courtesy of Emily Murphy

Feel Free to Use Images for Letters to Corps and TCEQ

Emily Murphy encourages people to submit her photos with their letters to the TCEQ and Army Corps of Engineers. They illustrate why these wetlands are unique and irreplaceable. (However, please do not use them for any other purposes; respect the photographer’s copyright.)

A mitigation-bank credit purchased by the developer in some far-off watershed cannot begin to compensate for the loss of a unique habitat like this…inside the limits of America’s fourth largest city.

A Community Living in Harmony with Nature

Murphy’s photography reminds me of two things. First, it reminds me of why I moved to Kingwood 35 years ago. The fact that Emily can still photograph moments like these is eloquent testimony to the founding vision for Kingwood – a community living in harmony with nature. The density of development was sufficiently low that wild animals such as these still live among us.

Second, it reminds me of a Navajo prayer that I first learned in Canyon De Chelley (pronounced ‘de SHAY’) in northeastern Arizona. The title of the prayer was inscribed on a plaque at Spider Rock, another of the world’s most beautiful places. The inscription simply said, “May you always walk in beauty.” No matter how beautiful architecture is, it can’t match the beauty of nature.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/18/2019

507 Days since Hurricane Harvey

New Drone Video Shows Areas for Proposed High-Rise Development

Jim Zura, owner of Zura Productions, flew his drones again on January 8 after the most recent flood went down. This time, he’s sharing two videos. The first, shot from River Grove Park, shows the area south of Barrington. The second, shot from Woodland Hills Drive at Deer Springs, shows the area north of the Barrington. Together, they show you the areas for most of the proposed new Romerica high-rise development and marina.

Drone pans approximately 120 degrees across the Romerica property from Barrington to the West Fork of the San Jacinto. End of shot zooms into the narrow area between Barrington and small lake where high rises would be built.
This video starts on Woodland Hills at Deer Springs. It pans up to reveal the northern part of the proposed high-rise development, then pans south toward Barrington.

Both videos offer panoramic views of the areas that Romerica proposes to raise by 12 feet. Raising these two areas would destroy trees and wetlands, increase the rate of runoff, and alter drainage patterns. It would also likely worsen flooding problems upstream and around the proposed development.

Not Only Human Residents Worry

Clark McCollough, a resident of Kingwood Lakes, reported that two bald eagles live near the property being permitted. He supplied this spectacular photo which I am reprinting with his permission. The developer wants to fill in wetlands near the nests and mitigate the loss of wetlands by purchasing credits somewhere else.

Register Comments on Permit Application with Army Corps

For complete details of the permit application, see this post. If no comments are received by January 31, the Corps will assume there are no objections. Do not assume that this permit will be denied just because FaceBook has a lot of negative buzz about it. The Corps does not read FaceBook. The best way to ensure this development does not happen is to write. We need every resident in Kingwood to respond. Important: In your letter, state that you want a public hearing.

Comments and requests for additional information should reference USACE file number, SWG-2016-00384, and should be submitted to: 

  • Evaluation Branch, North Unit 
  • Regulatory Division, CESWG-RD-E 
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 
  • P.O. Box 1229 
  • Galveston, Texas 77553-1229 
  • 409-766-3869 Phone 
  • 409-766-6301 Fax 
  • swg_public_notice@usace.army.mil 

Posted by Bob Rehak on January 10, 2019

499 Days after Hurricane Harvey