Borrego Springs, CA

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Sunday Blast from the Past

Fast forward, or fast backward, to Feb.-May, 2007.........

I began my first volunteer assignment at a National Wildlife Refuge. There are over 550 National Wildlife Refuges in the country, and Anahuac (pronounced anna-whack) is located southeast of Houston, Texas. It is on the Gulf of Mexico coast and consists of mostly marsh lands. The difference between a marsh and a swamp is that swamps have trees, and marshes do not. Both have abundant mosquitoes. ;)
I spent three months there and worked 32 hours/week. Living in a spot surrounded by marsh was a new experience for me. My duties included working in the Visitor's Information Station (VIS), light maintenance, elementary school education programs, and waterfowl studies. Being an experienced birder was an advantage at this refuge and I enjoyed helping the biologist with a waterfowl study.

There were plenty of other critters there besides birds....like this alligator,

and small lizards (I think they were called anuoles).

I even found a little green tree frog clinging to my awning brace.
Of course, my main interest was birds, and I was not disappointed. Thousands of snow geese winter on the refuge, and it is a major migration stopping point for thousands of neo-tropical migrants in the spring.

In nearby High Island, Texas, was a rookery (breeding location) for great egrets, neotropic cormorants, and roseate spoonbills. The pinkness of the spoonbills is determined by the amount of shrimp they eat. These spoonbills, obviously, had a good supply of shrimp in their diet.

Scattered across much of the land in the refuge were these mud mounds that measured about ten inches tall. They are constructed by crawdads (or crawfish, or crayfish, depending on where you are from). It's amazing how these creatures build these mud tunnels from marble like rounds of mud.

This was the visitor's center where I worked...outside...

and inside.........


Last year, Anahuac received a direct hit from hurricane Ike, and the result was that this VIS was pretty much demolished. The water surged seven feet tall through the VIS and the office and maintenance buildings behind. The refuge was devastated, most alligators and other wildlife were drowned, and the volunteer building no longer exists. I have seen pictures of the destruction, and it is hard for me to wrap my mind around it. I will be spending about five weeks there this winter helping to rebuild the education program, so I'll be able to post the recovery efforts for this important refuge.

Last, but not least, is a view of the refuge that I experienced at the close of one of the waterfowl counts that I did. Views like this made me forget the mosquitoes for a while! ;)


You know, I'm really enjoying these blasts from the past as I reminisce about my fulltiming experiences. I hope you enjoy them also.

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

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