Sunday, July 10, 2011

Anahuac and High Island

.We started our weekend trip with a visit to Anahuac NWR.

The pond near the old visitor center was completely dry and the only birds around were the Barn Swallows which were busy nesting on our last visit. A few birds were still sitting on their nests under the building's eaves.

However, most were busy flying and catching bugs or else resting.

The ditch around Shovelers' Pond was completely dry in places and the most common birds were Black-necked Stilts. Some of these seemed to be trying to deal with the heat by balancing on one leg, while others frequently lay down on the ground.

There were also many Cattle Egrets, all of which were visibly panting to keep cool.

As usual, Red-winged Blackbirds were out in force, the males singing and fluffing up their red shoulder patches.

A couple of Green Herons, Great Egrets and a solitary Tricolored Heron were fishing in the wet areas of the ditch.

Leaving the main part of the refuge, we were struck by the number of Eastern Kingbirds lining the access road.

They were accompanied by a single Scissortailed Flycatcher.

We headed down to the Skillern Tract section of the refuge, where we had lunch by the river.

Flyovers there included a Fulvous Whistling Duch, several Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, a Little Blue Heron and a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Two Green Herons were fishing in the river.

Lunch over, we drove down to High Island to check out the Smith Oaks rookery, where we were surprised to see that there was now no water between the viewing platforms and the island. The latter had a few birds still on their nests - Great and Cattle Egrets, Tricolored Herons, Cormorants and Anhingas.

Roseate Spoonbills and Great Egrets were flying about or posing on the snags.

There were many other birds on the other side of the pond and I was thrilled to see that these included dozens of Wood Storks as well as scores of Roseate Spoonbills. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get any closer to these birds and we had to content ourselves with observing them through binoculars.

As is to be expected in southeast Texas in mid-July, it was brutally hot. So we called it a day and drove up to the Econolodge in Winnie to rest up and look for somewhere to eat dinner.

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