McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge: birds, more birds

We had the most amazing day at the McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge! And as I’ve done before, I wanted to list a few birds here.

Not a lot of pictures here, because birds are hard to photograph. But would you look at this list! My friend Barrett and I counted twenty-three species, including: European starling, osprey, mottled duck, lesser scaup, red-breasted merganser, Wilson’s snipe, tri-colored heron, American coot, northern harrier, great egret, brown pelican, tropical cormorant, double-breasted cormorant, great blue heron, turkey vulture, black vulture, blue jay, killdeer, little blue heron, great-tailed grackle, boat-tailed grackle, rock pigeon, and snow goose. We also saw four little alligators. Maybe two to three feet in length; not so little that I didn’t watch Hops carefully.

But the part I was most excited about were the roseate spoonbills, the bird I most wanted to see, and sure enough, we rounded a bend on a gravel road and there they were, six or eight of them. They are so pink, and I was so excited. I didn’t get a great picture or anything, but we can call this proof.

The next day, driving east, I added a red-winged blackbird and belted kingfisher to my list. Coming up: Louisiana.

Port Arthur, TX

I met up with a friend for a few days in Port Arthur, on the Texas Gulf Coast and on the Louisiana border. It’s not a famously beautiful town; it’s an oil town, which makes for the stinky smells and a somewhat one-note local culture. One would not normally travel to Port Arthur for pleasure, but this is where we were able to meet up (seeking, among other things, warmer temperatures than the ones I’d been finding in northeast Texas). I set us a challenge: to find something beautiful in Port Arthur.

And we found lots to do and learn. We started our one long full day with a few paying-of-respects trips to a few artists.

at Janis Joplin’s birthplace (the house behind the marker)

Janis Joplin is the town’s most notable person.

Next we drove into the town of Groves, where Mary Karr comes from. There’s no childhood home to visit here (for one thing, her mother burned it down; also, location unknown), but we visited the neighborhood, and the American Legion post that might be the one where her father spends so much time in The Liars’ Club.

Next, we drove around the old downtown, which is decidedly rundown. But we found some gorgeous – and tragic – old buildings to photograph.

We visited the Museum of the Gulf, which was a surprisingly large place with a surprisingly wide range of stuff: history including geology, biology, and human war and industry, and the modern story of Port Arthur, including local and regional notable figures. Janis Joplin, of course, figures significantly.

We moved on from there just a few blocks to the campus of Lamar State College, contiguous with the library and Lions Park.

And then the Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site, where Hops was relieved to stretch his legs. (He may have had a few fried crawfish tails for lunch. It was a good day for Hops.)

Hops runs wild with munitions magazines and drilling equipment

It was quite a long and satisfying day… so we finished up at a local brewpub.

Sippin’ Pretty, by Odell Brewing, and some live music