Memories Of Santa Ana NWR

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge nestles in 2,088 acres along the Rio Grande. With 14 miles of trails, there are almost limitless opportunities to meet birds and other wildlife. During migrations, they’re situated ideally to intercept birds travelling between their breeding grounds to the north, and their winter homes in Central and South America.

Much of the reserve is forested with trees heavily draped in Spanish moss, while wetlands and shallow ponds provide habitat for waterfowl and waders. I missed out on visiting this reserve in the spring of 2020 because of restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. I have but one regret about my 2021 stay in South Texas; I only visited this location once.

On 2021-02-21, I loaded my camera gear on my bike and set out to meet birds and have some fun. I succeeded on both counts. Many of the trails have bicycle restrictions, so I walked while pushing the bike and my camera gear along those paths. When I finished my three and a half our tour of the reserve, I’d covered 5 miles and met the following species: American Coot, Common Yellowthroat, Eastern Phoebe, Garter Snake, Great Egret, Least Grebe, Northern Shoveler, White-Faced Ibis, and White Ibis.

My favorite memory of this place was the time I spent sitting quietly next to the Pintail Lakes photographing foraging ibis work their way ever closer to my position until head-shots were my only option. Remaining still and blending into the background to let my subjects come to me has been my most rewarding strategy, and continues to this day.

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