Wednesday, June 19, 2013

On the Road--Down South: Natchez, Mississippi to Houston via Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge

Another long day of driving, but I decided I wanted to be in Houston tonight so that I don't have to drive tomorrow before my flight home. I got into the Southeast Texas area around 3:30 and spent the late afternoon at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. It was difficult to find, but once there worth the trouble. It is mostly a vast expanse of brushy areas studded with small trees. Here and there are marshy areas. Part of the Refuge borders the Gulf. The result is a good variety of habitats for birds. As usual, there were Mockingbirds everywhere, but the first bird I saw on this, my last day of this long birding trip, was a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher--a nice bookend: The first bird I saw on my first full day of the tip was a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. I saw three or four at Anahuac.

Orchard Orioles were plentiful as well (left), as were Mourning Doves. I was a bit surprised to see Willets and very surprised and pleased to find Common Nighthawks both flying and resting on many of the fenceposts. The Nighthawk has always been one of my favorite birds--even before I started birding seriously. I used to love to watch them hunting at dusk in my Dayton, Ohio neighborhood. It was nostalgic to see the familiar white patches on the wings.

Other birds I saw included: Red-winged Blackbird, Bobwhite (heard), Boat-tailed Grackle (or Great-tailed Grackle--I still can't reliably distinguish these), Eastern Meadowlark, Eastern Kingbird, Turkey Vulture, Black Vulture, Killdeer, Barn Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Starling, Laughing Gull, White Ibis (about 30), Glossy Ibis (about 8), Dickcissel, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Common Gallinule, Black-necked Stilt, an unidentified duck, Black-bellied Plover, Green Heron, Little Blue Heron, and Fulvous Whistling Duck (life bird No. 23 for the trip). A sparrow I have yet to identify (I took marginal photos) could add another life bird. I have quite a few pictures to look through.

If I can rouse myself early enough tomorrow, I may go to Jesse Jones County Park, which, according to my iPhone, is about 12 minutes away from my hotel. So, I may get in a little more birding before departure, but I may sleep in. Looking back, four birding locations stand out in my mind: Lacassine Pool and Lake Martin near Lafayette, Louisiana; the Savannah NWR; Edisto Beach State Park; and Anahuac NWR, but Edisto Beach, where I saw the Painted Bunting was very special.

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