Our visit to Galveston had given us some confidence that the coastal area was recovering fast from Hurricane Ike, and this feeling was increased when we found that the Stingaree restaurant on Bolivar had survived the storm and was again open for business. However, as we drove east along the peninsula, the communities we passed through had clearly been devastated and showed only few signs of recovery.
When we stopped to do some birding at Rollover Pass, we found the site changed beyond recognition and we were so depressed by its current state that we drove on almost immediately.
Our spirits were lifted when we found that the area around Anahuac NWR and the entrance road to the refuge seemed much the same as usual. Then we reached the office/store and started to see some of the destruction caused by Ike. Only the shell of the office/store remained.
Unfortunately, the rest of the refuge was in a much worse state than the garden. Shoveler Pond seemed to be totally dry and virtually devoid of birds except Red-winged Blackbirds and Grackles. The edge of the canal along its southern rim was lined with hurricane debris swept up by the surge of water from the coast: beams, planks, doors, sections of decks and walls, etc. Not surprisingly, we didn't see a single alligator around Shoveler Pond, whereas normally we see a dozen or more.
The Willows, a famous area for birding during migrations, was a very sorry sight. A solitary Orchard Oriole looked very out of place there.
Our trip left us wondering just how many years it will take Anahuac to recover. There was one good sign, however: The Willows boardwalk was graced by some fresh coyote scat. So either some animals survived Ike or, more likely, some have started to move into the area!