What better way to begin a new year than at a National Wildlife Refuge looking for birds. It has become a tradition with our family in recent years to spend New Year's Day at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge and so that is where we headed in the early morning hours.
Last year's New Year's Day at Anahuac was heartbreaking. Hurricane Ike had swept through just two-and-a-half-months before, totally devastating the area. There were piles of debris everywhere one looked - but no birds. We ended the day with only sixteen species on our list and two of those were the Black and Turkey Vultures.
This year was quite different. From our first stop in the refuge, it was evident that life had returned. There were large flocks of ducks and geese flying as well as plenty of other water birds. Most hearteningly, there were Tree Swallows!
This year we ended the day with a total of thirty-six species on our list - not a great total but respectable and certainly encouraging after last year's debacle.
There were still several birds that were missing - most notably the Common Moorhen. Not only was it not common today, it was not there. There were several species of ducks like the Shoveler, Blue-winged Teal, and Gadwall that we were used to seeing here in past years that were nowhere to be found today.
But overall, after the sad state of the refuge just one year ago, it is quite amazing that life has returned so quickly and is getting back to normal. It just reminds us once again that Nature rules.