Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Quick Return To Anahuac

 We arranged to meet friends at Baytown Nature Center on Saturday morning but it was raining hard on that side of town and so we met up at the new Anahuac NWR headquarters instead. The HQ is on FM 563 a few miles south of I-10 and we thought it would be a good place to explore while we waited for the rain to stop.

We spent an enjoyable 40 minutes looking at displays and watching a movie about the local refuges. Then we walked along the trail that leads from the HQ buildings through the woods to the edge of Anahuac Lake. We didn't see or hear a single bird but we were entertained by the dozens of spiders building webs across and near the boardwalk. 

We'll try the trail again later in the year, when there is likely to be more bird activity. It certainly looked like it could be a good site to visit during fall or spring migration.
When the rain stopped, we decided to head over to the main Anahuac refuge. There we had our picnic lunch in what used to be the visitor center, surrounded by Barn Swallows, a few of which were still sitting in nests.

Our lunch was interrupted when a dozen or so large birds appeared and kept circling very high in the sky above us. They turned out to be Wood Storks.

The garden was empty of birds but had lots of dragonflies.

A slow drive around Shovelers' Pond turned up Black-necked Stilts, Great Egrets and a couple of Willets.
Then two Clapper/King Rails put in a brief appearance.

I was so busy watching for birds in the ditch around the pond that Dee had to point out a Least Bittern perched high in the reeds on the other side of the road. I find Least Bitterns fascinating birds and I loved the way this one was clinging to the reeds.

As we were leaving Shovelers' I noticed a bird in the reeds. It had fluff on its head and so was clearly a youngster.

At first I wasn't at all sure what I was looking at. Then I noticed an adult bird standing nearby and keeping an eye on the youngster. Yellow-crowned Night Heron.

We didn't see a great number or variety of birds at Anahuac and we didn't see a single alligator. However, the visit was worthwhile if only for the Wood Storks, Rails, the Least Bittern and the Yellow-crowned Night Herons - and, of course, the magnificent marshland scenery.

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