After picking up the bird survey information that was stored at the RV pads on the refuge, I drove into the East Unit of the refuge to find the area that had a report of numerous roseate spoonbills.
Donna, one of the other volunteers, asked if she could go along to see them. I said, “Hop in!” The area we were going to is closed to the public, and is about five miles back into the marsh. There has been plenty of rain this year so the marsh is very wet with quite a few areas where the water covers the gravel road.
As we neared a curve in the road, a family of river otters dashed across. I came to a stop, and had a joyful time watching them go back and forth across the road. I knew if I got too close, they would high tail it into the water. I had to take this shot through the filthy windshield. I don’t often see the otters on the refuge, so this was quite a thrill.
As I inched forward and got out of the truck, they sure enough all dove into the water. They splashed around for a minute or so before disappearing into the tall marsh grasses. What a hoot!
As we made our way closer to the intracoastal canal, we saw a dozen or so spoonbills here and there, but certainly not the numbers that were reported by staff yesterday. That’s the trouble with birds. They’ve got wings, and use them.
All was not lost, though, as we saw thousands of American coots, and hundreds of other ducks taking advantage of the wetlands. Close to the gravel road was also a nice flock of least sandpipers. They are very small shorebirds. I don’t believe the area we ended up in is open to hunting, and the birds seem to know it. The number of waterfowl taken in the hunt here is merely a drop in the bucket compared to the number of wintering birds this refuge supports.
I would have spent more time driving around, but Donna needed to get back. I don’t drive these back roads on hunt days, but I think I’ll be checking them out again on Monday. You just never know what you’re going to see.
When I made the decision to stay at the site in Winnie as opposed to the RV pads on the refuge, I figured I probably wouldn’t be seeing any of the cattle drives this year. Today proved me wrong. As I made my way back to the rig along FM 1985, I had to inch along behind this drive for about three miles. Three miles per hour is about how fast these cattle walk along, so you can figure out how long those three miles took me. I didn’t mind too much though. Going that slow means that the deposited cow pies don’t splat all over your truck.
It was a good morning on the refuge, and the encounter with the otters made my day. In the afternoon, I welcomed my new neighbors as they set up next to me. Tomorrow I’m working the hunt again. I guess I’d better get to bed pretty soon.
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later, Judy