Friday, February 13, 2009

Coastal Texas Recovery Update

So it's been right at five months since Hurricane Ike hit the Texas coast, and with spring migrations just around the corner I've been wondering about how things are looking at the hard-hit bird sanctuaries on Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula.

And as often happens, the answer came along before I even have a chance to voice the question. Last weekend, two members of the TexBirds listserv posted their recent observations from the Bolivar Flats area.

First came this report from Winnie Burkett (who is the Sanctuary Manager for the Houston Audubon Society):
We have been working at Bolivar Flats a lot lately, getting the last run on debris, (no we haven't got it all just all that we will get) getting some of the fences rebuilt and starting to rebuild the vehicular barrier. There have been very few birds on the beach and that started me thinking about why. I looked at the vehicular barrier poles that are left and it hit me "the sand is gone". Over 4 feet of sand was pushed inland and I think all the invertebrates that the birds ate were in that sand. The larva of most coastal invertebrates are mobile so I am sure they will get reestablished it will be interesting to see how long it takes. The birds are still out there but hard to see as they are WAY out there.
Read the rest of Winnie's report...
This post was quickly followed up by some even more detailed observations from Joseph Kennedy. He not only gave a good report on what birds can currently be seen in the area, but also delved into some of the related effects from the storm on native trees, plant fertilization and the local honey bee population.
Winnie's observations closely agree with mine. I have been out there twice now trying to count the evidence of worm/clam availability for the birds. By coincidence, I had taken many pictures of the worm and clam mounds etc just before Ike and have a baseline. I was really unable to find enough evidence of life to take any pictures. Creature holes are far apart. Shorebirds mainly eat little things but if there are no things a little bigger there [are] probably no little things too.

The birds I have seen have been picking rather than probing. They are more nervous and spend much more time moving around looking for a feeding patch.
Read the rest of Joe's report...
If you are the least bit interested in one of the most important stopovers along the Gulf Coast for migrating shorebirds, I urge you to read these two posts. They give a good overview of the current situation in the area and on the affects the hurricane damage may have for the near future.

There are also a few more reports and observations on the status of Bolivar Peninsula from Audubon members on the January Bolivar Bird Count page.

1 comment:

Kallen305 said...

Absolutely heart breaking to read. Is there anything people can do to help rebuild the the area with sand and other things they depend on? Very depressing.