Thursday, May 19, 2016

Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge

Between the Smith Oaks Sanctuary and Rollover Pass, my visit to the Texas Gulf Coast a couple of weeks ago had already been tremendously fruitful by the second afternoon. I decided to press my luck and squeeze in another destination -- the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge -- to see if there wasn't more still to discover.

Spoiler alert: There was. :)

Killdeer, Anahuac NWR
The specimens I'd yet to encounter began to show themselves right at the Visitor Center, which is apparently a favorite area of some Killdeer.

American Alligator, Anahuac NWR
Next up was the Shoveler Pond loop.  I struggled trying to catch any Purple Gallinules in good light.  But I did see this fellow, who also seemed interested in the Gallinules.

Red-winged Blackbird, Anahuac NWR
Red-winged Blackbirds were in abundance.  I always struggle to get much detail shooting any bird with black feathers.  This is one of my better efforts.

Dickcissel, Anahuac NWR
When I was first going through my images, I got excited that this might be a Seaside Sparrow.  Upon closer examination I believe it's actually a Savannah Sparrow.  Which is still cool.

Common Moorhen, Anahuac NWR
Common Gallinules -- or Moorhens -- were much more abundant than their Purple cousins.  But they were also somewhat reluctant to stay still and close for pictures.  I was glad to catch one distracted by a bit of a snack.

Great Egret, Anahuac NWR
When are Great Egrets NOT elegant?

Common Nighthawk, Anahuac NWR
A spot right before the bend to the west on Frozen Point Road was a haven for Common Nighthawks.  I saw three just plumped out on fence posts here, and none anywhere else.

White-tailed Kite, Anahuac NWR
I know this shot is barely even Bigfoot quality.  But I was excited to see a White-tailed Kite I'd heard was on the refuge, and wanted to share the flimsy photographic documentation I got of it.  Heavily cropped, obviously.

Clapper Rail, Anahuac NWR
As I was on my way out, I saw a Black-necked Stilt just off the road.  I pulled over, got out of my car, and managed to snap a few shots of it that unfortunately didn't turn out.  But then I saw this Clapper Rail, and everything went right.

Tri-colored Heron, Anahuac NWR
The same spot also yielded some close-up time with this Tricolored Heron, who was quite unperturbed by my presence.

Tri-colored Heron, Anahuac NWR
I don't know how close it would have let me get, but I decided that this was plenty close enough.

Roughly 24 hours in the area -- four of which were spent sleeping -- yielded more than 2,000 photos in all.  I'd planned to stay one more night, but the forecast of persistent heavy rain starting that evening and the ridiculous haul of images I already had convinced me that I might as well head back home early.  So I did, and stretched out my processing and sharing of the pictures over 18 days and seven blog posts.

That's how you savor a photo trip!

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