I haven't seen the actual nest yet, just two very busy thrashers going in and out of the Spanish Daggers.
Cattle Egrets were lined up all along the rails of the deck above the boat lift this morning, on all four sides of the square. At different times today I saw Cattle Egrets, Snowy Egrets, and Great Egrets along the river. A group of seven Reddish Egrets flew by this evening, six white ones and one dark. (This is one of those interesting species with two color morphs, one pure white and one dark gray with reddish-gray necks and heads. )
Hundreds, maybe thousands (I need to look that up) of Reddish Egrets nest in a rookery on Green Island which is just north of the mouth of the Arroyo Colorado, about ten miles downriver from us. Green Island, one of the few natural islands in the Laguna Madre (most of the islands are really spoil banks made from the dredging of the Intracoastal Waterway) is covered with very thick thorny brush, good protection for what is supposed to be the largest nesting colony of Reddish Egrets in the world. Protected by the Audubon Society, the rookery is home primarily to Reddish Egrets and Roseate Spoonbills with other herons and egrets nesting there as well. We fish near there sometimes but not too near so that we don't disturb the nesting birds. Huge signs warn fishermen away, and I've never seen anyone get too close. I love to sit in the boat and watch the egrets, spoonbills, and herons fly overheadon their way to and from the rookery. Roseate Spoonbills are especially beautiful when caught in the early morning sunlight.
A short news clip here shows some of the Island's feathered inhabitants as videoed by outdoor writer Richard Moore for a local television station. It's a wonderful video. Click on it to see our local breeding birds.
The rookery on Green Island has been very important in increasing the numbers of Reddish Egrets since the early 1900's when they were almost hunted out of existence for their beautiful plumes that decorated ladies' hats.
When we visited my sister in Florida last summer we saw the brown anoles (Cuban Anoles) that live there. They are not native to the United States as the Green Anole is, and their appearance in Florida has overtaken most of the Green Anole population there.
If you look at the third anole photo, you'll see why the second anole looks so fresh and spring-y. He has just molted! I took the molting picture about an hour before the other one. This lizard was the same size and in the same place as the brown guy I had seen the day before. Since I know anoles are territorial, I think this is probably the same one. Maybe he was so brown because his skin felt old and uncomfortable! (I know I'm anthropomorphizing here. I'm abandoning all pretense of being scientific.)
When I was a kid they sold Green Anoles at the circus with little strings around their necks and pins on the strings so you could wear them. They called them "chameleons." I shudder to think about those wonderful lizards that could change colors and catch bugs and puff up bright pink dewlaps, being "worn" by less-than-careful little kids. Of course our mom would not let us have one. She was a teacher, interested in and respectful of all living things. In one of my favorite photos of her, taken by my dad just a week or two after they had met, she is holding a lizard up to his camera and smiling. I hope I have passed on to my children and grandchildren the same love and respect for nature that my parents gave to me.
Yard list note: One yard bird has made its first appearance of 2010 and I'm sad to see it back, even though it is a very interesting bird: the Bronzed Cowbirds are back ready to parasitize the nests of the Hooded Orioles. I'll tell more about these unwelcome birds when I get a picture of them. Meanwhile, I'll add them and the Nashville Warbler that I saw a few days ago to the year list in the sidebar.