Roseate Spoonbills on Big Slough

Roseate Spoonbills on Big Slough
Roseate Spoonbills on Big Slough

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Visiting a Favorite Refuge with New Friends

 Our Volunteer Village has more than doubled in size with the arrival of two new volunteer couples. My free time schedule overlaps each of theirs by one day. Dee, Steve and I started talking about good birding places and I invited them to join me to visit Anahuac, the refuge where I volunteered while still working and the first refuge I volunteered at when I started my residential volunteer life. 

I further offered to give them the service I used to give people when I volunteered as a free birding guide for Birding Pals. I would bring lunch and guide them. Then we could enjoy a sunset supper at a restaurant on Bolivar Pennisula, along the intercoastal canal before catching the Galveston ferry. 

We had a wonderful day, but didn't even have time to visit all the parts of the main refuge, much less get to the Skillern Unit. But come along.....

I was completely unable to refind the whooping crane, but we found a field with several groups of sandhill cranes

The first bird we photographed was this red-tail hawk warming himself in the early sunlight

We started seeing lots of white-faced ibis as soon as we started around Shoveler Pond, the auto tour

Many species of birds were hunting together - the ibis' bill is backlit

This little blue was with the above two birds, just a bit too far apart to make a good picture

One of the birds people make a particular effort to find  here is the boat-tailed grackle. Dee and Steve could tell boat-tailed grackles from the more common great-tailed grackles with just a few looks. These birds are slightly smaller, have a MUCH rounder head, a smaller bill, and a blue iridescence

After coots and common gallinules, the two most common birds were black bellied whistling ducks and roseate spoonbills

It seemed some of the birds were starting early courting behavior. I'm not sure if this was courting or fighting

We spent another several delightful minutes watching these white pelicans cooperatively feeding

The birds I got most excited about were about a dozen fulvous whistling ducks.  I haven't seen any for over a dozen years.

We made it all the way to the end of Frozen Point without seeing many birds, except for a
few hawks. But this laughing gull ...

...was hanging out with a single ring-billed gull

We saw several red-tailed hawks but I liked this one's pugnacious expression best

The last time I visited here only a couple of weeks ago, I got to watch several large flocks
 of snow geese and greater 
white-fronted geese fly over. This day, we only saw about
15 greater white-fronted geese on the ground 

All too soon, and before we could even finish traveling all the roads at the main refuge, much less visit the Skillern unit and do some hiking, we realized, that to take the ferry home and get back about 8:00, we needed to start to the restaurant. When I was last here, Stingeree's, a restaurant that has ALWAYS been here, was closed. I found Steve's Landing which is also on the Intercoastal Canal and only a few miles east of Stingeree's. The food was outstanding, and I figured we could eat outside and enjoy the barges and other boats on the Intercoastal, as well as sunset.  Dee and Steve agreed and we had a lovely meal with  great entertainment.

This shrimp boat came to the marina next to the restaurant

The day was done and so were we

For my eBird list, click here:

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