My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Spooning Spoonbills

Our friends from Corpus are both paddlers and birders so, on Sunday,  we had to take them to Anahuac NWR to see the birds. Actually, Winnie really wanted to go on a rail walk and see a Yellow Rail.  So she and I left home at 5:30 A M with  a packed of high fiber muffins, boiled eggs, and yogurt  and a lunch of sweet potato salad.   I was late getting her to the refuge,  but we made it in time for her to join the group.

While I waited for Natalie, Ellen and Kathy to show up, I planned to take some pictures of the swallows in the old visitor center/now gazebo and perhaps of the temporary visitor center for an article I'm writing for the Friends of Anahuac newsletter. THEN I discovered I'd accidentally hauled my bag containing both into the house the day before, without that fact registering. So I just visited my trees while waiting for Natalie to arrive with my camera.

 The above picture was taken by Winnie while on the rail walk. The little boy was 10 and had come from Pennsylvania to try to get a yellow rail. He already has 400 birds on his life list. The man in the back is Colin, a volunteerwho has been coming every year for at least 10 years .... and all the way from England.  He spends two or more months here each fall winter, and sometimes in the spring,  and is a fabulous birder and great all-around guy.  I was delighted to get to visit with him for a few minutes.

Winnie finished her rail walk before Natalie arrived so we decided to start around the auto tour. About half way around, some guys stopped us to tell us I had a flat. I thanked them, then turned back to enjoy the birds we were watching. When they saw that, they  backed up, jumped out and informed us they were going to change it for us. That took less than five minutes after I spent a couple of minutes unpacking the back and corralling all my loose gear into a large camping bag. Very nice of them!

Just as they finished, Natalie drove up and we were able to finish the tour, then stop for a second installment on breakfast. The winds were getting wilder and colder,  so we decided to go visit the new visitor center and walk the marvelous boardwalk at the juxtaposition of a East Texas mixed hardwood/pine forest and a cypress swamp.  We saw only a couple of woodpeckers but enjoyed the walk and the time we spent in the visitor center.  I was disappointed because I had promised them a "ride" in an airboat.  But the effects had been turned off, according to the volunteer working that day.

Kathy, Natalie, and Winnie at lunch.  Picture by Ellen

Sunning cottonmouth below walkway
We had another lovely walk at the Skillern Unit.  This area held our best hope of seeing warblers, but we were there at the middle of the day and in very high winds, so saw few birds other than waders,double-crested cormorants, common gallinules, and coots, except for one very active blue-gray natcatcher. Natalie and Ellen left us here so Natalie could make symphony practice.  Kathy, Winnie and I went on to High Island. By this time we were tired so we only went to the rookery at Smith Woods, which is one of the Audubon Sanctuaries there.

Great egrets are already sitting on eggs. Spoonbills and neotropical cormorants are congregating and many of the cormorants have started nesting. We enjoy watching a spoonbill pair work on their nest, but most of them were just wandering around or resting. A few braved the high winds.

Nesting real estate is in very short supply after damage from two hurricanes

Pair deciding on where to put their stick

Same pair, one picture later

Blue-winged teal - first ducks in and often last ducks out

Blue-winged teal lifting off water

After a short time, we decided we were all exhausted so started for home. Then Kathy and Winnie took me to supper at the Stingeree, a restaurant that is right next to the ship channel. Ships pass only a few yards from the window tables. And they have delicious seafood. We didn't get back home until after 8:00 P M and then stayed up until almost midnight visiting. Another great day with nature and friends.

Oh yes, the tire which was only 1000 miles old, was perfect. The man who checked it at the tire store thought some one had deliberately let the air out of it. And now I'm forced to go back for the pictures I want for my blog so am meeting another friend there to paddle Oyster bayou and also do a lot of birding.