The birding excitement started right at the registration office, where Barn Swallows nesting under the eaves kept swooping past our heads.
Barn Swallow on Nest
The first pond had a good range of ducks - including Redhead - as well as all three types of Ibis.
Shoveler Pond was busy, too, with Red-winged Blackbirds singing and displaying everywhere. (We both love Red-winged Blackbirds, partly because they always remind of us birding trips we did in northern California.)
Red-winged Blackbird Displaying
Boat-tailed Grackles were also displaying, while Northern Harriers kept gliding over and disturbing flocks of Blue-winged Teal. American Coots and Common Moorhen were very numerous. The waterside was lined with alligators; we counted 11 and probably missed many more.
The Willows were very quiet but turned up three good birds: our first Palm Warbler in Texas and our first-of-the-year Eastern Kingbird and Yellow-billed Cuckoo. The road nearby had Savannah Sparrows, too.
The main boardwalk was very worthwhile. We had good views of Black-necked Stilts and Mottled Duck, as well good looks at Seaside Sparrows and a Sora.
The refuge produced a list of 42 species, which wasn't bad for less than 2 hours. It took my year list to 144.
We returned home via Boy Scouts Woods at High Island, where we had a picnic lunch. We were amazed to see how much damage had been done by the last hurricane to hit the area: Almost all of the huge trees in the "Cathedral" had been destroyed and some other parts of the site were also very badly damaged.
We didn't manage to see the Buff-bellied Hummingbird which has been there for several weeks, but we did get to watch the bathing antics of a Brown Thrasher, another first-of-year bird for us both.