Memories of Anahuac NWR

After departing High Island in early March 2021, I set a course for the nearby Anahuac National Wildlife Reserve. I planned a quick visit before heading east on my clock-wise journey around the gulf, with intentions of ending up in Florida. Everyone I spoke with about must see places on the upper Texas Gulf coast spoke well of this 53 square mile reserve. Looking at a map of the Texas Gulf coast, you can see very little developed land there. Most of the natural habitat has been undisturbed. It’s a shame the rest of the coastal USA has not preserved more of its endemic habitat.

There are several roads to explore in Anahuac, but I chose the loop around the 280 acre Shoveler Pond. There I found and photographed American Alligators, American Coots, Blue-Winged Teals, Boat-Tailed Grackles, Common Gallinules, Great Egrets, Killdeers, Northern Shovelers, Pied-Billed Grebes, Neotropic Cormorants, Red-Eared Sliders, Red-Winged Blackbirds, White-Faced Ibis, and White Ibis. At distances too far to photograph, I saw Snowy Egrets, a Tricolored Heron, Roseate Spoonbills, and various dabblers.

My limited time visiting this reserve is not sufficient to fully describe the opportunities for meeting birds and other wildlife here. There are nearly 34,000 acres of habitat here, and most of it is devoted to waterfowl. My 3 hour tour exposed me to such a small fraction of its treasures, I’m almost embarrassed to give it a place in my “Birding Destinations” series. But it is my shortcomings, and no fault of this location that causes my chagrin. If I ever travel to this region again, I would make it a point to explore more of this reserve and its many trails.

Until this day, I’d been planning to drive all the way to northwest Florida on this trip, but I reconsidered. After looking at my maps, I saw little in the way of natural habitat along the road ahead until well down the Florida gulf coast. My drive time to get there and back would have been considerable. Additional time for explorations would have further complicated the schedule. I hoped to experience as much of spring migration in the Lower Rio Grande Valley as I could. A trip to Florida would have cut into the time I wanted to spend at South Padre Island and other key locations in The Valley. My explorations in Florida would have to wait until another trip.

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