Posts Tagged ‘San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge’

‘An old dog, even more than an old spouse, always feels like doing what you feel like doing.” — Robert Brault


White ibis coming in for a landing at the Sea Center in Lake Jackson on a cold morning. -- Photo by Pat Bean


Travels With Maggie

I braved the cold yesterday morning to walk the boardwalk at the Sea Center in Lake Jackson. It’s a great place to watch birds, as well as being a fish hatchery, beach/seashore museum and an aquarium.

Check it out at: http://www.texasexplorer.com/SeaCenterTexas.htm


A new sign marks the Bobcat Woods Trail in San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge. That's my son, Lewis, in the background. -- Photo by Pat Bean

While I had a pair of warm gloves, I never kept them on long enough for my fingers to warm up. I was too busy checking out the Audubon Bird App on the new smart phone my son gave me as an early Christmas present and taking pictures. I can use my binoculars with my gloves on, but not the phone or camera.

My photo above of the white ibis was my reward for braving the cold. It did warm up later on in the day, and my son, Lewis, and I found about 40 species. After the Sea Center, we walked Bobcat Trail at San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge.

My dog, Maggie, wasn’t happy, however. I had left her home so she could stay warm and cozy in the RV. But the dirty looks she gave me for the rest of the afternoon indicated she had wanted to go birding, too. Or at least gone for the ride.

Gypsy Lee has been parked for a week and Maggie is already getting antsy.

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“Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books … “  —  George Washington Carver

Chasing Birds


While I didn't have my camera the day I walked in the Dow Woods, I've taken it often to the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge, where Lewis and I have trod this boardwalk through Bobcat Woods. -- Photo by Pat Bean

A new addition to Texas’ wildlife sanctuary complex, the Dow Woods, opened this past week. Located just five minutes from my son, Lewis’, home in Lake Jackson. We two avid birders had to check it out of course.

The 338-acre site, designated as part of the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge, currently includes two loop trails, totaling 2.5 miles, that run along Bastrop Bayou. Plans are in the works to put in more trails in the near future.

The land was donated to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by Dow Chemical, which was actually responsible for creating the town of Lake Jackson in the 1940s so its employees would have a place to live.

Lake Jackson, where our family lived from 1956-1971. is called the City of Enchantment, partly because of the vast number of trees that were spared when the swampy forest was cleared and drainage canals were dug so the land would be livable.


A crested caracara that I spotted at the San Bernard NWR. -- Photo by Pat Bean

 It’s nice to see that in a time when corporate greed is so rampant that a large employer is still both giving to the community and conserving the landscape.

The actions, along with the jobs the company provides the area, ease a bit the large footprint the chemical plant also has on the local landscape.

Lewis, whose favorite birding site, is the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge’s main location, is delighted that this new addition to is so close to his home. And we both found it a delightful place to walk and look for birds.

I, however, was a bit upset with myself because while I remembered to bring my binoculars, I left my camera at home.

If you’re in the neighborhood, you should drop by. Dow Woods is located on Old Angleton (or County Road 288) about a mile north of FM 2004.

I plan to go back soon and take my camera. Perhaps I’ll see you there.

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San Bernal National Wildlife Refuge: Invitation to commune with Mother Nature ... Photos by Pat Bean

Reflections ... Photo by Pat Bean


Bone-chilling 25-degree temperature, which Texas’ Gulf Coast wind and humidity dropped to a real 12 degrees, had been keeping me confined to my tiny RV for days. So it was with a delirious sense of freedom that today’s 50 degrees of warmth found me at San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge. I had come with my son, Lewis, my daughter-in-law, Karen, and my grandson, Scott, for a few hours of birding.

We had barely arrived before spying a small warbler at the entrance to Bobcat Woods. I got excited when I thought it might be a Bell’s vireo, a bird I didn’t yet have on my life list. But it was a white-eyed vireo. The grayish head and yellow markings around the eye, like spectacles, confirmed the identification.

Shrugging off my disappointment, I gave myself to the joy of watching THIS bird. It stayed around long enough that we abandoned it before it abandoned us. I was the last to leave its presence. When I’m birding with a group, I usually distance myself from the others, either going ahead because I want a chance to see a bird before it’s startled away, or straggling behind because I need time alone with Mother Nature.

I was the straggler today.

Besides the birds – over 50 species in three hours time – I found myself marveling at the twisted limbs of live oak trees whose branches were often wider than their trunks, the delicious green of palms and short winter grasses that added color to the marsh’s seasonal grayness, reflective landscapes and clouds in pools of water that lined the boardwalk, and dripping screens of mysterious moss.

While the others made their way past the boardwalk to the reservoir, I stopped to watch butter butts (yellow-rumped warblers) play at the edge of a stream and then to study and identify a winter wren, which closely resembles a house wren. When I looked up, I could see my family waving at me to hurry and catch up.

I did, as fast as I could. But the Bell’s vireo they had been watching was no longer in sight. Of course I was disappointed. Even so, I wouldn’t have wanted to miss a moment of the time I spent in companionship with the refuge. It’s comforting mood this day had chased winter from my soul.

 Besides, said the Pollyanna who lives within me, a Bell’s vireo is still out there and eagerly waiting to make my acquaintance.

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