Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sabine Pass Trip

With fall migration going on I decided to take a trip to Sabine Pass a week ago to check for migrants at Sabine Woods. Before I arrived I came across a dead river otter alongside highway 87 about 1-2 miles from town. This is the second road-killed otter I've discovered along this highway.

About 1 mile from Sabine Woods I found a freshly killed 3 1/2 foot long cottonmouth along the road's edge. Seems lately all of the snakes I come across are dead. We've had a really sweltering summer and when it's like this snakes usually find a nice shady place to hide and stay cool during the day and do all of their hunting at night. As soon as fall arrives and begins to drop daily temperatures they'll become more active to try and get as much to eat before winter. This means I'll probably come across a lot more road-killed snakes because of this. Hopefully though I'll also come across a few live ones as well.

Arriving at Sabine Woods I doused myself with mosquito repellent and put on a long sleeved shirt. If you're from my neck of the woods you're aware of our mosquito dilemma. As I approached the edge of the woods it was as if I crossed an invisible boundary that set off an alarm. The six-legged blood suckers were on me like stink on a monkey. I was hit from every angle possible and every piece of exposed flesh was covered even if it did taste of deet. I can usually handle mosquitoes, but this was insane to the point that had I opened my mouth and inhaled deeply I would've surely choked. So much for birding this area today. I decided to head down highway 87 towards Willow Pond Nature Trail even though there's not much left of this patch of willow trees.

Hurricane Rita began its downfall and then the salty storm surge of Hurricane Ike finished it off. What was once a beautiful, serene local with a petite wisp of willows is now no more than a graveyard of wooden skeletons. During spring and fall migration these trees served as rest and feeding areas for migrants that had traveled the lengthy expanse of the Gulf of Mexico on their way to their breeding areas. Now it is no more. The boardwalk that once snaked its way through the trees was washed away leaving a sandy floor. As I walked through the area I found that the resident bobcat was still frequenting this spot. There in the soft sand were tracks that appeared pretty fresh. I made its acquaintence several times in the past, once in the winter of 2005 and then again in the spring of 2008.

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