Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Judy, Anahuac NWR, and WOW!

Winnie Inn and RV Campground
Winnie, TX
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 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 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.

Galveston Bay

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...

White-crowned Sparrow

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 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!


  1. That was quite a scroll! I hope you know that I enjoyed the day as much as it seems you both did. Can't wait to meet up again at Tamrac NWR! :)

  2. I am a big big fan of Judy's so I wanted to see your take on the day. Really beautiful pictures. I have a serious case of envy. Hope to be able to get there and meet her in person in April and get a tour. Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience.

  3. How wonderful is that - having the bird lady of blogland as your own personal tour guide!! Sounds like a wonderful day and you got so many great pictures. Great shot of the heron in flight. I bet this will be a great memory day for you all.

  4. Our paths seemed to have crossed along I-10 over the last day or two. We are in a hurry to get back to Florida...some friends are home for Christmas and are headed back to their missionary duties in Africa on the 17th. Plus, you sure don't want to catch this cold we still have! Will be back to the condo Thursday...will meet up sometime along the road, that I am fairly sure of. --Dave (

  5. Very interesting fact learning about the draining & salt removal process after Ike. Bird watching can be quite addicting can't it & you were so fortunate to have your own private "guide" along.

  6. Loved all of your great photos! Really loved your bird photos. Ike did so much damage in that area, unfortunately, and it was interesting to learn about the draining process. I toured that area with a friend about a year after it happened, and it was still so sad. Added your blog to my follow list!

  7. Excellent photos today and its always fun meeting fellow bloggers.

  8. WOW! I am so jealous! What a wonderful experience and Wonderful photos!!!! You rock!

  9. Having a friend to show us around is always the BEST way to get around. I love birds so I am oohing and wowing at all your bird pictures, great captures. Since we will bei in TX next winter, I will surely pay attention to your ins and outs.

  10. What a fabulous day you had! Your photos are wonderful and to have your own personal tour guide for the day was the icing on the cake, I'm sure. Enjoy your time in TX.