Goodbye Louisiana, Hello Texas!
We rolled into Beaumont, Texas last Thursday with the expectation of visiting a few birding areas located along the gulf.
Friday morning we headed toward the little Texas town of Winnie. I had read **(see special note later in this post) that this area offered fabulous birding opportunities. So, with our binoculars and cameras packed in the car, we set out.
High Island or Anahuac, which one to visit first?
We didn’t know which area(s) to visit first; the birding sanctuaries and rookeries around High Island, Texas or the Anahauc National Wildlife Refuge outside of Winnie.
We knew our time was limited and we only had two full days to fit in all in. Silly us, we should have scheduled more days in this location.
We turned off the interstate and headed south toward Winnie and High Island, and as we approached the turn-off to ANWF, we decided to head over to the High Island sanctuaries and rookeries first.
We didn’t know if we could run by these rookeries, see what was there, and then zoom over to ANWF or what. Silly us!
Birders Welcome! Of course they are!
Once we reached the town of High Island and drove around for a few minutes, we realized we needed to ask for information. I guess it was just dumb luck that we were passing a motel and saw a sign stating “Birders Welcome”.
We pulled into the motel and I ran in to ask the question, “where are the rookeries?”. The people were not only extremely friendly, they were also generous. Getting back into the car, with a map in hand, we set out to find the rookery.
After a few wrong turns we managed to find the Smith Oaks birding parking lot. When we pulled into the lot we were stunned, “look at all these cars”. We should have known we were not the only folks that wanted to visit the rookeries at the peak of breeding season. Silly us!
I will remember this event, with pure joy, for the rest of my life.
Okay, we will look around, hop back into the car and head to the next place. Not a chance, I could have stayed right there for days. Silly us!
Other than the rookery at Avery Island, I had never seen such a place. Hundreds of Egrets, Spoonbills and Cormorants flying, fighting, mating, snoozing and nesting. What a sight to behold!
Reluctantly, we finally got back into the car, in total amazement and me with lens envy, and headed over to another birding area called Boy Scout Woods.
Wow, even more cars and people.
Unbeknown to us it turns out the Audubon Society of Houston’s annual spring birding event was in full swing. People from all over the United States and perhaps from outside the US attend this event each year.
We registered with the HAS, met some wonderful people, walked around in the woods and added one new bird to my life list! Number 360 the Louisiana Waterthrush. What a beautiful bird.
Here is their web-site if you would like to learn more: http://www.houstonaudubon.org/default.aspx/MenuItemID/194/MenuGroup/Sanctuaries.htm
Be sure, if interested, to read the High Island history page.
What a wonderful day!
We drove back to our coach in Beaumont tired, but extremely happy for this experience. It would have been nice to go back to High Island, but we knew we had to see Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge.
**Gay, a blogger friend from http://www.good-times-rollin.blogspot.com visited Aunahauc National Wildlife Refuge and wrote about the visit on her blog. Go take a look at her beautiful blog.
When visiting ANWR, Gay and Joe met with Judy from http://travels-with-emma.blogspot.com and spent the day touring this beautiful refuge.
Judy is a volunteer at the refuge and writes about her experiences on her fabulous blog.
After reading both of these blogs about Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, I knew we needed to stop there. Also, Judy had visited the Smith Oaks Rookery and posted her gorgeous photos on her blog.
The next morning, following our visit to High Island, we pulled into the refuge.
As I entered the brand new Welcome Center, I was met by a person with a friendly face and kind eyes. As I glanced at her name tag, conformation was made, but I already knew that I was about to meet Judy!
Howard and I were lucky that she was there that day; it made our visit to ANWF even more special!
It was a thrill to meet a fellow blogger, birder and nature lover. She showed us the ANWF maps, told us what we might see and gave us a few suggestions on where to go. So off we went to explore!
Other, than the day being cloudy and very windy, hubby and I had a wonderful time! The refuge is beautiful!
Thank you Judy, it was a great pleasure to meet you.
Perhaps, one day down the line we will meet again.
Next year, we know where to stay.
No more Silly Us! Next year we will stay a lot closer and a lot longer in order to experience these areas of Texas.
Until next year!
Here are some of the 37 species of birds we saw at ANWF. I will post, in a separate blog, the photos from High Island.