.The last few times we had visited Anahuac, the refuge had definitely not recovered from Hurricane Ike and birds - except for Snow Geese in the winter - were fairly scarce. Last week, though, the refuge was looking good and the birding was excellent. In fact, we were so pleased by what we saw on Saturday afternoon that I returned early on Sunday and then we both went back later on Sunday morning. I'll combine what we saw into one report.
Our bird sightings started well before we reached Anahuac with four Scissor-tailed Flycatchers being first up.
They were quickly followed by a Red-tailed Hawk and an Osprey (below), the only raptors that we on the whole weekend.
Turning into the refuge we were surprised to see flooded fields full of birds on the left: Blue-winged Teal, White Ibis and a range of shorebirds that included many Whimbrels and Yellowlegs (below).
The old visitor center was busy with Barn Swallows, one of which seemed totally unconcerned as I photographed it from 6 feet away.
Several nests under the building's eaves were occupied, even if you had to look hard to see the occupants.
For the first time in years the pond behind the center has a lot of birds. Several species of shorebirds were pottering around while a Glossy Ibis was wading in the shallow water.
We were both thrilled to see a group of about a dozen Fulvous Whistling Ducks, birds that we see surprisingly rarely.
Just across the road from the pond one Common Nighthawk was resting on a branch while another was perched on a fence. What really strange looking birds they are!
The butterfly garden wasn't attracting many butterflies but the lantana there was proving to be a big draw for male and female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.
Here, as everywhere on the refuge, the calls and songs of Red-winged Blackbirds filled the air ...
and almost every fence post seemed to have an Eastern Kingbird, some looking very dapper and others still working on their feathers.
After birding the area near the old visitor center, we took a leisurely drive around Shovelers' Pond, where we saw almost the same birds on each of our three circuits. But I'll blog about them tomorrow.