January 7, 2014
Traveling on I-10, most folks ride right on past Winnie, TX. Joe and I would have been no exception except that Anahuac NWR is located in Winnie and that's where Judy and Emma are.
I was thrilled at the prospect of possibly meeting Judy and Emma (Travels With Emma) and seeing Anahuac. And then ecstatic when plans were made. Even in the bitter cold, Judy graciously committed to a day with us...a day she had off! After meets and greets including sweet puppy kisses from Emma at Judy's, we were on our way. Immediately, Pearl (our Jeep) was filled with conversation...history about the refuge, questions and answers, stories, sharing a little about us, and learning a little about her...just like old friends.
Our first stop was the Visitors Center (a beautiful new facility) where we took a virtual tour of the refuge on an "air boat". The refuge has 34,000 acres managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Our first photo stop was on the 2.5 mile loop around Shoveler Pond...the only freshwater lake in the refuge.
It was interesting to learn that after Ike (2008) the lake had to be drained, given time to dry out and then all the salt removed and then refilled.
We saw lots of coots. These birds are not ducks, but rather in the rail family with strong legs and long lobed toes.
Then as we were rounding the turn...WOW! An Ibis...one of the birds I really wanted to see. Isn't it grand? Their long, down-curved bill is used for probing. They are tactile, non-visual foragers and prefer crayfish, insects, and small fishes.
We sat and watched for a few minutes.
As we were leaving...so was this Great Blue Heron. What a sight...we watched as he took flight and settled in on the road just to our left.
From there, Judy took us down Frozen Point Road. This road runs right through prairie land all the way to Galveston Bay. Why the name Frozen Point? When a blizzard in 1895 dumped 18 inches of snow there, the cows headed south along the fence line. They ran right into the bay, bogged down and froze.
Along the way,
we just happen to see a large flock of white and black Ibis...
They like to feed in groups.
We also saw a good size group of neotropic cormorants.
Judy took us to Skillern Tract for the last part of our day. The wooded banks of East Bay Bayou turned into a few "WOW!" moments for us! First off, we spotted a vermillion flycatcher just as we stepped out of the Jeep.
This was the first time for Joe and I to see one and it was very difficult to be quiet. We had such fun following him as he flew from tree to tree...
|One of the many overlooks along the bayou...|
This area is great for fishing, canoeing or kayaking, bird watching...or for spotting butterflies and alligators. Its absolutely beautiful! And oh so quiet!
Walking along talking with Judy surrounded by all this beauty was a dream come true. I had to pinch myself several times!
Oops, Judy I forget the name of this little guy....
The Common Moorhen or "swamp chicken" pecking for small aquatic creatures and vegetation. Wow!
The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher...he flicks his white-edged tail to scare up the hiding insects. Wow!
And last...the Orange-crowned Warbler...WOW!
He was so entertaining as he meticulously moved from post to post checking each and every crevice looking for spiders.
Judy and I were snapping away...he didn't seem to mind!
Well, before we knew it, 6 hours had flown by. Joe and I both agree it was the fastest 6 hours ever! Having Judy as our very own personal guide made visiting Anahuac a very special day...one we will not forget. Somehow, "Thank you, Judy." just doesn't seem like enough! Don't be surprised if you see us at Tamarac this summer!
We had planned on going back to Anahuac today. We wanted to see the huge flocks of Snow Geese, but it was so cloudy with winds around 25 mph...we just stayed home with the Tan Clan instead.
Tomorrow we are off to Houston for a few days. Sure hope it warms up!
2014 is off to a great start for us...hope it is for you too.
Until next time...take care and
enjoy your view!