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Borrego Springs, CA

Saturday, November 16, 2013

No rain at the Expo!

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.

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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.

75 Anahuac NWR 2013-20144Tents 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.

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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?

IMG_9669                                               Getting your face painted can be serious business.

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                                       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

18 comments:

  1. Judy this looks like a fabulous event! I'm sure word of mouth will make it increasingly more popular. I know if I was anywhere near there, even with the mosquitoes, I'd come to check it out. Great pictures. You are right that little boy is priceless.

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  2. What a wonderful day for all...love to see the children outside, exploring and learning and with smiles on their faces!

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  3. Looks like a successful event! What a great idea to examine the owl pellets. An teachable activity people are likely to remember for a long time. So cool!

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  4. Once word gets out about what a great event it was next year will be better. Love the kid with the leave painting too.

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  5. What a cool event! The local people are so fortunate to have this refuge nearby.

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  6. So where is your picture of your painted face? I'm sure you couldn't resist... :cD

    Glad you stayed dry and none of the skeeters carried you off, I hear they grow pretty big down thar!

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  7. Very nice event! Glad everyone had a good time and learned some stuff.

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  8. You didn't say how many kids participated, but it looks like enough to keep everyone busy. Don't believe I've ever seen anyone kiss and alligator before ;-)

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  9. Our girls loved events like this. We have several lakes in the area we lived in. They would bug...no pun intended...us to death to go to any event that was going on.

    The kids are so precious!

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  10. What would the owls think about humans sanitizing their pellets and then presenting them to their young to examine, I wonder? Good to know your Winnie location isn't full of mosquitos in case we ever make it down that way.

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  11. Really appears to have been a great event. And, the little face-paint boy is adorable. I agree, next year should have even a better turnout.

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  12. Look like a great event. I wish there were more events like this around the country. Get the kids outside away from all the electronics. Also some exercise and fresh air. Thank you for taking part in this event.

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  13. You get involved with some of the most interesting projects in blogland and I love reading things like this. I'd really like to be closer to a refuge and take my grandkids to something like this.

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  14. I've missed a couple days, so I had to read about Swamp People!..That Expo looks like a great success to me! If you can get just one child to appreciate nature and the outdoors, you have done a great job!

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  15. Nice Post. Thank you for sharing this in Your blog

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