15 April 2009

The Ike Affect (High Island, Texas)

I am now based in High Island, Texas for the season (until May 3) working in partnership for Tropical Birding and the Houston Audubon Society as a seasonal High Island bird guide. I did not know what to expect when I arrived in the aftermath of last autumns Hurricane Ike on the region.

There has been a lot of publicity about the devastating affects of Hurricane Ike on the coastal region around High Island and the Bolivar Peninsula. Certainly any trip along the peninsula leaves you with much to think about. Houses and local businesses destroyed and stark human impact and “re-distribution” of bird habitat. However, on High Island itself despite the loss of some trees at both Smith Oaks and Boy Scout Woods-the two main Houston Audubon sanctuaries-the impact was not that severe.

This seems to be borne out by the birds that have turned up this year too – with warbler numbers in my personal opinion up on last year and just a way more exciting spring season so far this year compared to last. Before the middle of April we have experienced 27 warbler species days and also enjoyed a mix of the usual eastern migrants, along with some less expected bonus birds – such as Hooded Oriole, Bullock’s Oriole, Violet-green Swallow, Western Tanagers, Black-legged Kittiwake and Magnificent Frigatebirds. The above photos were just some that we have been watching during the early part of the season in the Houston Audubon Boy Scout Woods sanctuary on 5th Street.

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