.We headed to Winnie on Saturday morning, hoping to see some more migrant warblers at High Island. On the way we stopped in for 45 minutes at Anahuac NWR. The main reason was that I love Least Bitterns and I'd heard several had recently been spotted around Shoveler Pond.
The entrance road was fairly quiet: a Red-tailed Hawk, a couple of Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, a solitary Eastern Kingbird, a couple of Tree Swallows and a few Red-winged Blackbirds.
The old visitor center building was busy with its usual nesting Barn Swallows.
We drove slowly around the pond, stopping for a while so that Dee could walk the boardwalk. Except for a brief glimpse of an Orchard Oriole, the only birds we saw were Black-necked Stilts (below), Lesser Yellowlegs and Great-tailed Grackles (below).
As this visit had been very disappointing, we decided to visit the refuge again the following morning, and this time to allow ourselves more time for birding on foot.
Our first stop was at the Willows, where a Red-winged Blackbird was singing.
As I was photographing the Blackbird, a bird flew quickly past overhead. A Least Bittern! Perhaps we were going to be luckier today.
We parked in the first pullover area at Shoveler Pond and I got out to check out the roadside water channel while Dee stayed in the car. Almost at once I spotted another Least Bittern just feet away from me. Unfortunately, by the time I had raised my camera, the bird had moved to hide in the reeds on the other side of the channel.
Back at the car, Dee told me she had seen two Least Bitterns in my absence.
We drove on and parked in the next pullover area - right next to where another Least Bittern was prowling through the grasses. This time we both had excellent views of the bird.
As we drove off, another Bittern flew up and then disappeared into the reeds. That was our sixth Least Bittern in about 20 minutes! Those were the last Bitterns we saw but the rest of the drive around the pond was anything but boring.
A pair of Eastern Kingbirds perched on a tree stump right beside the road. They clearly had nesting on their minds.
Then two Orchard Orioles popped up on the other side of the road.
The Orioles were followed by great views of another Eastern Kingbird.
A male Brown-headed Cowbird perched equally nearby.
By now we had driven only halfway around the Shoveler Pond loop and yet we had seen many more birds than in our whole visit the previous day. Would we see any interesting birds as we drove the rest of the loop?