Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge
We visited Anahuac twice this year, once on the 15th and then again on the 17th. It was early afternoon and hot which is not the best time to visit anywhere really. En route we stopped by the roadside (on FM 1985) where there was a small pool and marshy area. It looked very good for migrating waders and indeed had a few but no massive numbers. We did find Lesser Yellowlegs, two Stilt Sandpipers, Killdeer and 38 Hudsonian Whimbrels. Also about were Eastern Meadowlark, White-faced Ibis and Swainson's Hawk. A bit further on where a bridge cross a creek we saw a Black Vulture on a telegraph pole and numerous Barn and Northern Rough-winged Swallows.
At Anahuac itself we drove round Shoveler Pond as we did last year but the lateness of the day meant a complete lack of heron species. Present were American Coot, Common Moorhen, Pied-billed Grebe, Blue-winged Teal, Forster's and Caspian Terns, Eastern Kingbird and numerous Savannah Sparrows. Anahuac is the best place I know to see Boat-tailed Grackle and we saw quite a few.
On the 17th Anahuac was our first stop and we got much more than last visit. First we again drove round Shoveler Pond. This time, in addition to the species we saw last time, we had our only Purple Gallinule of the trip and our only Least Bittern. We walked along the boardwalk which juts into the lake and had numerous Boat-tailed Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds and a few singing Marsh Wrens and a male Common Yellowthroat. Here we had a close fly-past by a Gull-billed Tern plus Snowy Egret, Black-necked Stilts and a few Dowitchers. Finally, as we drove back towards the visitor centre we added many groups of American Coot and a Turkey Vulture on the road.
Instead of heading out of the reserve we turned right towards Yellow Rail Prairie. We followed the Salt Cedar Road to Teal Slough Road and then down Windmill Road.
The commonest bird on this drive was Sedge Wren, we heard at least 100 individuals singing from scrub. Also here were Eastern Meadowlark, Eastern Kingbird, Tree and Barn Swallows on fence wires, scattered Orchard Orioles and a Common Nighthawk in the classic pose on a fence post.
Where the road reaches East Galveston Bay we found an accomodating Hudsonian Whimbrel plus Forster's Tern, Laughing Gull, Black-bellied Plover, Willet and, surprisingly, an Alligator in the seawater.
In the marshy areas we picked up a few Seaside Sparrows including an ace view of a textbook bird. As usual for this trip we kept running into Green Herons and saw four or five at Anahuac.
In some reeds Helen picked up a brief view of a Le Conte's Sparrow and we both had Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Western Sandpiper, Great Egret and finally, a late or summering Snow Goose.