Friday, September 21, 2007

Pave Paradise, Put in a...You Know

Yesterday evening I attended a meeting of the Golden Triangle Audubon Society in Tyrrell Park (subject: duck identification). Since I got there early I figured I'd go have a look at the swampy slough behind the arboretum. It's been a favorite spot of mine, and a particularly good place to see watersnakes.

But the swamp was gone! The entire area has been drained and bulldozed. All of the wonderful vegetation had been removed, and a small basin had been dug in the middle. At the bottom was an unwholesome looking pool of greenish water with a few turtles swimming in it. What had once been a charming little spot now looked absolutely sterile. The only bird present was a Solitary Sandpiper – a good find, but slight consolation.

I asked a couple of people at the meeting if they knew why it was done, but they didn’t know. I guess someone thought the area needed to be “improved.”

Michelle told me that one of our neighbors had a lot of hummingbirds coming to their feeders, so this morning I went over to see for myself. They did. At one point there were as many as 12 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds simultaneously in view! While watching their feeders I noticed a male Baltimore Oriole in the crown of an adjacent tree. Found out my neighbor has also been photographing the birds around his yard, and has some nice shots of Mississippi Kites, Chipping Sparrows, etc.

Maybe in some way it all balances out. While the City of Beaumont destroys bird habitat there are many private citizens creating havens for wildlife in their backyards, putting up feeders and welcoming their feathered visitors.

A White-eyed Vireo was singing in the thicket (which needs no improvement) along our driveway as I walked back to the house.


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