Anahuac NWR Sign

Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge

Getting There

Trail Map


Cattle egrets and Cattle
Cattle egrets leaving their cattle
Leaving Houston, on those insane freeways, two lanes suddenly deviated to the left, and I unexpectedly found myself on the way to Galveston. After a lengthy detour, getting lost in a variety of Houston neighbourhoods, I finally found the highway again and proceeded to Anahuac National Wildlife Reserve. What a great place! On the way there, I saw a herd of about 30 Cattle Egrets surrounding a pair of bulls in a field. But they took off as I stopped the car. 
Although most birders at Anahuac head directly for Shoveler Pond, a stop at the Willows on the way is noted in the Lane Guide as highly recommended. This group of trees often has migrants when High Island doesn't. And this is where I truly understood the need for birding by ear. They were all around me, chirping and singing their hearts out. And I couldn't recognize a single note! I heard at least five or six different birds in the Willows, but couldn't spot one of them!
The Willows
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron over Shoveler Pond
Wildflowers and Egret
Wildflowers and, on the far side of the pond, a Snowy Egret
There was lots of MUD (Many Unidentified Ducks) at Shoveler Pond, as well as a totally fearless Great Blue Heron, who carefully paced me along the road. He    periodically took off and got ahead of me by flying down the waterways. 

There were also many egrets in the ponds, and vultures, both turkey and black, wheeling in the sky. 

Cormorants, swallows, and gulls were all over. Red-winged and Rusty Blackbirds perched in the reeds. Belted Kingfishers perched on every available wire. 

Great Blue Heron - Photo copyright Don DesJardin
Great Blue Heron
Photo copyright Don DesJardin
Unfortunately, the day I was at the Anahuac National Wildlife Reserve, the road down by the Tamarisks was closed. But standing at the cross roads with my scope, I identified 2 Black-Shouldered Kites and a Peregrine Falcon perched on some dead snags to the east of the intersection. After repeating my slooooow car trip around Shoveler Pond, and visiting the flats on the coast, I regretfully headed away from Anahuac NWR. 

Time was short, and as I passed High Island, I was sorry that I didn't have the time to peruse the trails and see if any migrants were waiting to jump the Caribbean to their wintering sites. I  was headed for the Bolivar Peninsula, if I wanted to get back to Houston on time. 

NOTE (August, 1999): I just heard from the Friends of the Anahuac NWR, who indicate that they plan to have an information building with interpretive displays and a great view of a newly built and landscaped pond just outside.  A walking trail will be available around the new pond leading out to the willows. And, they have a new checklist so make sure you drop in and pick it up!

      Other sites on Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge: