Thursday, April 24, 2008

High Island Texas Bird Sanctuary Day Trip

A great day trip for The Woodlands residents! High Island is on the Gulf, on Bolivar Island. One can take I10 towards Beaumont or go across the ferry in Galveston to Bolivar Island. The trip from Galveston to High Island is not all that far. The Audubon Society of Houston sponsors one really good bird sanctuary there. I went there with some friends on a leisurely day trip and this is about that trip.

First we stopped on Bolivar Island at the beach to enjoy large spaces without people on the beach. The spring flowers were blooming and the beach was in fair shape. We could have gone swimming but chose not to do so. It would have been sticky afterwards. As it was, we did not have enough time at the sanctuary anyway.

High Island is 32 feet above sea level right next to the beach. The soil is rich and therefore, the vegetation thrives there. Old gnarly Oaks can be found as well as Bald Cypress and even some iron-starved pines. Like everywhere these days, the unwanted Chinese Tallow have also flourished. I happily noted new plantings of several oaks along the trails.

This place is one of the primary stops along the migratory lanes; it attracts birders from all over the world. The day before we were there, birds such as the Painted Bunting and a dozen others had been spotted and posted, as they are each day on the bulletin board. It costs $5 for each person to enter all the birding locations in the area.

Our principal interest was to see the nesting locations of the Roseate Spoonbill and the Egret. The birds are in prime nesting season and will be off to their normal feeding grounds in about three weeks. Here along the gulf coast, are at the far northern hangout of this species. Their chicks were in the nests as exhibited by the photos below. There were several islands in the lake which we visited. Each island is perfect for nesting because the predators cannot access the nests there. A predator must swim past alligators to rob a nest.The birds sometimes make a sound of laughter. They are constantly chatting and fussing over territory. Family quarrels occur every few minutes. There are benches from which a spectator can watch and take photographs.

Don't take the birding on the paths too lightly. I saw a Baltimore Oriole and a black stripped warbler in the trees along the path walk. The path meandered around another lake. Out in the middle of that lake, I saw a very large gator swimming from one side of the lake to the other. I thought I had captured a photo of the warbler, but it darted behind some leaves just as the camera decided to open it's shutter. Under the old oak tree near the owl's nest, just sitting was very relaxing.
1. Houston Audubon Society
2. All About Birds

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