We arrived at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge on December 31. The weather was hot - 76 and VERY humid. We could either set up in the same site we had last year or try out a new site. We chose a new site at the end of the row. There are only two couples, besides us, that were here last year. All the other volunteers will be new this year. All the volunteer sites should be full soon. I'll take a picture of our site when the sun comes out again.
Laguna Atascosa NWR is a 97,000 acre Refuge that was established in 1946. It was originally purchased for the benefit of wintering waterfowl, primarily redhead ducks. Approximately 80% of the redhead duck population winters in the lower Laguna Madre.
Redhead - photo taken last year
This refuge is home to more documented species of birds than any other National Wildlife Refuge in the United States. Half of all the bird species found in the continental United States rest, feed, nest and or migrate here.
New Years day turned cold and rainy. We drove the Bayside Drive which is a 15 mile one way loop that meanders along the Laguna Madre and returns through dense patches of thorny brush. With the rain, wind and cold weather, we didn’t see a whole lot.
Originally we were to arrive on January 4th but we were asked to participate in the Christmas Bird Count on January 2nd. The day of the CBC was cold and wet! We were not able to drive into the section assigned to us because of the mud. We ended up walking about 1 1/2 miles and only saw a hand full of birds, mostly Savannah Sparrows. But, our great find of the day were two Aplomodo Falcons sitting in a Yucca.
Aplomodo Falcon - photo taken last year
We’ll have orientation tomorrow, get new t-shirts, then officially start “working” next Tuesday.