I just spent a couple of days visiting the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge near Houston, Texas. It is the most spectacular place, and left me speechless in much the same way that staying on Skomer did last year.
My favourite place is Shoveler Pond, a very large marshy, fresh water area surrounded by a canal, and circumnavigated by a small road with many areas to pull over to listen and look at what’s going on.
On both occasions I was there early in the morning, around 6am-8am; so just in time for the dawn chorus. Though, I’m not sure it’s ever really quiet there at all, especially springtime. There is a low booming sound that male alligators make to attract a female. It seems to come from all over, and it varies in volume in a way that reminded me of the clock inside the crocodile in Peter Pan.
There are thousands and thousands of birds, and the variety is staggering. A little later in the morning I ran into a very friendly man who visits there regularly, and he gave me a quick review of the birds we were looking at. They include: whistling duck, ibis – all kinds of ibis, coots, moorhens, American bittern, marsh wren (much larger than any wren I have seen in the UK, yet similar behaviour and very beautiful), roseate spoonbill (beautiful bird that from a distance looks like a flamingo), various stilts, the red winged blackbird, grackle – but not like the grackles in Austin!, large white egrets, green herons, night herons, … just amazing.