Hey there Birding committee and friends!

We are happy to announce the results of Beaumont's first ever BIG SIT bird count held April 22 at Cattail Marsh. To celebrate Earth Day, Beaumont joined cities across the state by entering a team in the Great Texas Birding Classic. We hosted a BIG SIT team at the City of Beaumont's Water Reclamation center and birding hot spot in shifts from 6:30am to 8pm. A BIG SIT means our team chose a 17 ft circle deep within Cattail Marsh and could identify birds by sight or sound but had to stay within the boundaries. From our circle we had access to seeing birds in shallow water, tall reeds, wooden tree line and along the bayou all from one spot. Our team of expert to novice birders spotted 48 different species of birds from one spot!

As a beginner birder, the highlight of my day was seeing the Bald Eagles of Cattail Marsh, an adult pair and two eaglets. They are so identifiable and perch majestically above the bayou.

As I was leaving, I encountered a couple just inside the main entrance, the man had a professional camera lens as long as my arm, so I stopped to introduced myself.

I asked what brought them to Beaumont and learned they were Brian and Jayne Lasenby from Ontario, Canada they had flown into the Jack Brooks Regional Airport especially for birding in Southeast Texas.

They arrived last Friday and will stay until this Sunday. They had heard of Cattail Marsh from birding industry websites and from birding blogs. I immediately insisted they follow me back to our Big Sit area and closer to the Bald Eagle's nest. Stephanie Molina and I ended up staying with them for well over an hour and he agreed to share photos with Stephanie for promotional use. He was very impressed with his time at the Marsh and said they would be returning to walk the other side today. I was so excited to receive the photos from Brian Lasenby. He even turned over his camera to Stephanie's daughters, resulting in this alligator photo.

A very special thank you to Michael Hoke of the Big Thicket Association and long-time friend of the Beaumont CVB. Mr. Hoke's expertise was invaluable and we appreciate the continued partnership with the Ivory Bill-Neches River Adventures. None of this would be possible without the incredible partnership with the Water Utilities Department, Dr. Hani Tohme, and just some of his team from the Water Reclamation Center that joined our team: George Newsome, Karin Warren and Jess Liao. We are learning so much from all of you!

I look forward to sharing additional photos from the competition and encourage everyone to get out and explore Cattail Marsh. The Great Texas Birding Classic is held April 15-May 15.

- Elizabeth Eddins