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Getting back in the groove

Friday, 1 November 2013

We had well over 3” of rain yesterday, and Emma and I were trapped in the rig for the day.  The sun was shining this morning, so I was itching to get out on the refuge.  In order to do that, I had to find myself a refuge vehicle to drive.  So, I found a Chevy truck that the interns had used this summer.  Like many interns, they had pretty much trashed it, but it didn’t take me too long to clean out all their garbage that they left, and I was soon on the road.

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                                               Pied-billed grebe… can you dig those lobed toes?

Since I haven’t been here in two years, I decided the first order of business was to reacquaint myself with any changes that had gone on since my last stint here.  The auto tour route around Shoveler Pond has been paved, but the new Visitor’s Information Station (VIS) still hasn’t been completed.  It’s been five years since hurricane Ike wiped out the old one, but there have been lots of problems and delays with getting the new one built.  It may even open this December.

IMG_4682Neotropic cormorant. IMG_4685

After taking care of some paper work with Stephanie, I headed out around the pond to see what I could find.  One of the reasons Stephanie is happy to have me here is that she says I’m low maintenance.  I saved her quite a bit of time today by finding my own vehicle, and getting it checked out.  One of her coworkers left Fish and Wildlife for a different job, so due to the sequestration business, she now has to do both jobs.  If I can take a little stress off of her, I’m happy to do that.

IMG_4730 IMG_4731Roseate spoonbill.

One of my treats on my trip around Shoveler Pond was to see this roseate spoonbill.  I just love their specialized bill for straining little shrimp and the like out of the marsh waters.

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I was a little surprised to find this juvenile yellow-crowned night heron willing to pose for me.  I’ve seen lots of black-crowned night herons at Anahuac, but this is the first yellow-crowned I’ve seen in my six different assignments here.  Very nice.  I’ll be starting my official bird surveys in about two weeks, so I need to get out and about to sharpen up my skills.  I know some of you readers have been in bird picture withdrawal, so that’s another reason I was out clicking away today.  Winking smile

The only problem I had today was that the seat on this truck has kind of sunk down, and can’t be raised up.  It’s no secret that volunteers are generally assigned those vehicles that can perhaps be best described as senior vehicle fleet members… aka: close to being worn out.  With a sagging seat, I’m the proverbial little old granny Q-tip behind the wheel staring through the middle of the steering wheel.  Can you picture that?  Well I’ve come up with a solution.  When I got home, I dug out one of those square Personal Floatation Devices that people sit on in canoes.  I usually use it at picnic tables so I don’t feel like a little kid sitting there.  Between the 2” boost up, and lowering the steering wheel, I feel like I own this new ride!  Open-mouthed smile

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Can’t leave you tonight without a pic of this so typical resident of Anahuac NWR.  I guess I’m back to the land of alligators, fire ants, and Blue Bell Ice Cream!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

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