Nature Notes

August 19, 2008

Texas Birding: Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge

Filed under: Birds,Texas — Tags: , — Harold Stiver @ 7:00 am
Purple Gallinulle

Purple Gallinulle

Anahuac Wildlife RefugeĀ  (pronounced anna-wak) at first light is a great way to start a birding trip.The refuge was established to protect waterfowl wintering area and partially financed through the Federal Duck Stamp program, and waterfowl can be found in abundance. In winter, it is home to many species of ducks but by early spring, most have left to make their way to their summer breeding areas.

By early April, herons seem to take precedence. In the early morning there are many Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons feeding and it is a good opportunity to note the differences between the juvenile birds. Stately Great Blue Herons mix with the smaller Great Egrets and the elegant Snowy Egrets. Tricolored Herons dance about, scaring up prey, and Little Blue Heron are found with the occasional white juvenile. The occasional Green Heron will be seen and Cattle Egrets are spread throughout.The two Bitterns, normally hard to see, can be seen easily here . A half dozen American Bittern were in the open hunting, and the occasional Least Bittern flew across open channels. Reddish Egret is the least common, but occasionally seen on the bay.

Least Bittern

Least Bittern

The Rail family is also well represented with all nine members which breed in the U.S., to be found at Anahuac . Common Moorhen are common indeed as is American Coot. The flashy Purple Gallinule is less so, but still easily found.All six of the resident A.B.A. rails are present, Clapper, King, Virginia, Sora, Yellow, and Black. Years ago, the refuge used to operate a “rail buggy”, a large tractor which hauled observers through the habitat, flushing Yellow Rails, as well as the occasional Black Rail. This may not have been the soundest ecological practice, but it did allow me to see all six rails in a single day, a feat which would be difficult to manage today. Even without this ride, you are likely to glimpse a few rails.

Many migrants use the refuge to rest and refuel, and even without a fallout, there are a few to be found. At a small pond near the Willow’s boardwalk, a Louisiana Waterthrush picked among the logs and debris, A Prothonotary Warbler and a Hooded Warbler both flashed like gems in the shadows of the bank, and a Palm Warbler moved through the fresh leaves of the trees.

Overhead a steady stream of swallows moved steadily past, the ubiquitous Black and Turkey Vultures drifted, and a Merlin added some excitement by making a run by some blackbirds.

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  2. Thanks for your visit and kind comments, Mayola.

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