Despite predictions of rain earlier this week for today, the Anahuac Wildlife Expo happened today without one drop of rain and very warm temperatures. I got into the jammed packed van before 8:00 this morning and headed to the refuge through heavy fog. I thought I had figured out a short cut route, but I apparently missed a turn and it took me about an hour to get there. I had many of the supplies for the various stations, so folks were getting a little anxious about my arrival. I guess you can’t win them all.
As I helped unload in the still air, I think every mosquito in the marsh recognized me as fresh meat. I’ve been kind of spoiled at my Winnie location, and had forgotten about the preponderance of mosquitoes on the refuge. You can bet that one of the first things I did was to douse myself in bug spray.
After instructing the volunteers at the fish printing station, and helping several other stations get set up, I was supposed to work the Wonders of Wetlands station for the day. However, three refuge complex biologists were also assigned to this station. With their expertise, I really wasn’t needed there. Two of the younger biologists really got into it with the kids, and waded out into the pond to gather specimens with them. They had also captured a three year old alligator for the kids to interact with.
Tents were lined up all along the pond with various things for visitors to do and learn about. In another area, archery, games, and gun safety stations introduced visitors to other outdoor activities. There were kayaks available to paddle along one of the levies, and there were two excellent live raptor programs available throughout the day.
One of the activities available was to dissect an owl pellet. This young fellow was really into analyzing what the owl had eaten, but the girl on his left was a little hesitant about unwrapping the pellet without using two tweezers rather than her hands. These pellets are sanitized before kids are allowed to touch them. Owls can’t digest bones and such, so they spit out pellets of indigestible materials.
I remember, back in my bird banding days in New York, when a neighbor girl found a bird band in an owl pellet she found in her backyard. After checking my records, it turned out that band was from a chickadee that I had banded that had a deformed leg. That owl had captured and eaten that chickadee. Survival of the fittest?
But the results? … Priceless! (My favorite photo of the day.)
I think this Expo day was very successful. Some staff were disappointed in the turnout, but due to hurricane Ike, it’s been over five years since the last Expo. It’s a lot of work to put on something like this, but over time I bet this could become a premiere event in the Houston area. All of the visitors that I spoke to had a marvelous time, and would surely come back again. And no, I did not visit the Swamp People. They chose to only show up for two hours of the celebration. I was too busy with the fish printing and watching every one enjoy the numerous other activities.
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later, Judy