Thursday, June 25, 2009

Birding without Birds

One morning earlier this month, I headed over to Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary for a couple of hours, hoping to have a nice quiet morning of birding. Edith L. Moore is a nice little sanctuary run by the Houston Audubon Society, surrounded by neighborhoods and just minutes from one of the busiest freeways in Houston and several key business, medical and shopping centers.


Yet once you head up the gravel drive and start wandering through this lush wooded sanctuary, you would swear you were miles away from civilization. The footpaths wandering through the trees and along the creek are perfect for losing yourself in a world of nature far away from the rush and problems of everyday life, and even on the worst of days you can normally find a dozen or more species of birds here. Is it any wonder that I find some excuse to sneak over there at least once every month or so?

Shapes in nature

But for the first time in all my visits to Edith L. Moore, I was shocked to find the place almost completely barren of birdlife! Sure, the temperature and humidity were battling it out to see which could reach triple digits first. And yes, there were dozens of kids running pell-mell through the park, doing their best to release nine months of pent up energy in one massive celebration of the beginning of summer. But to find only eight species of birds in two whole hours? Oh, the inhumanity of it all!


Actually, I have to admit that it was quite an enjoyable morning. Once I'd seen and logged the handful of birds to be found that morning (chickadees, cardinals, mockingbirds, one far-off woodpecker and a couple others), I looked down for a change and realized why they named it the Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary rather than simply a bird sanctuary.

Waiting for lunch

I found wild rabbits munching in one clearing, and two more scurrying from my path near one heavy thicket. There were moss-covered turtles, big bulgy bullfrogs and slithering water snakes in and around the pond. There were squirrels darting through the undergrowth and leaping from branch to branch overhead, and lizards scurrying through the leaves that covered the ground. There were spiders lying in wait in various nooks and crannies, bends in branches, bundles of leaves, and one giant monstrosity hanging right at my eye level with his massive web stretched tightly across the path. There were butterflies and moths, dragonflies and damselflies, crickets and grasshoppers, and more crawlies and winged bugs than I could possibly name.

I see you!

Oh, and the cutest raccoon I've ever seen, warily making his way down this tall tree trunk and disappearing near the water's edge below.

To be honest, this was the best non-bird birding trip I've ever had!


forestal said...

Sounds like a great day spent. Great shots.


dAwN said...

OMGoodness..I love this non birding day sooo much...Your photos make me that green Planet dangling thing..what the heck is it..
ohh.and that frog...gorgeous!
hope u dont mind..but I must tweet this right now!

Kelly said... goodness...your photos are so crisp and clear. These are all gorgeous!!! Those eyes on the raccoon are incredible.