Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Still in Chambers County

As we drove down to Smith Point, we were a little dismayed to see that the day was turning cloudy and wet.

The observation tower was surprisingly busy with birders hoping that the clouds would clear and reveal flights of migrating hawks. A dozen Brown Pelicans were patrolling the
edge of the sea while feeders around the tower were busy with Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.

I walked over to a nearby wooded area, where I managed to spot several Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and a Broad-winged Hawk before I was driven away by hordes of mosquitoes.

It was now noon and we were getting hungry, but the Point didn't seem like the best place for a picnic. So we opted to drive over to Anahuac NWR to eat lunch and to see
what progress the refuge was making in its recovery from Hurricane Ike. On the way we added a few more birds o our day list: Great-tailed Grackle, Roseate Spoonbill, Eurasian Collared Dove and Red-shouldered Hawk.

At Anahuac we picnicked in the ruins of the old Visitor Center, while a hundred swallows swooped overhead and many more than a hundred dragonflies kept them company. Most of the swallows were Tree Swallows but I did see a couple of Cliff Swallows mixed in with them.

Tree Swallows preening

Cliff Swallow

After lunch we spent some time browsing through the gift shop in the temporary Visitor Center, which we found had (as usual) a very good selection of T-shirts and coffee mugs. Then, $75 lighter, we drove to the Willows and around Shoveler Pond.

The Willows showed few signs of recovery from Ike and will probably not attract birds again until new trees have been planted.

The drive around Shoveler Pond was disappointing, too. There was very little water in the pond and we spotted very few birds. We didn't even spot a single alligator! In 45 minutes we saw only 5 Tricolored Herons, 1 Great Blue Heron, 2 White Ibis, 3 Great and 1 Snowy Egret, 3 Black-necked Stilts and a dozen Blue-winged Teal. Certainly not much of a haul for what used to be one of the best birding sites in our area.

Although the day had produced comparatively few birds, my attempt to boost my Chambers County list had lead us to discover an interesting new site (White Memorial Park) as well as re-acquainting us with Smith Point. Also, the day had taken my Chambers County list to 106 species.


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