Changes at the Birding Center

Today’s High:  87º

I almost thought I’d gone to the wrong place.  So great were the changes at the South Padre Island Birding Center when we visited here on Tuesday that I had to think real hard to take in the wonderful changes.

I first visited the birding center in 2009 on one of my photo trips and I was gobsmacked by the variety of birds and the easy access.  Being lazy at heart what could be better than 3000 feet of boardwalk?  But over the years the variety of birds has dwindled a little as the marsh has encroached on the shore and mangroves and cattails have filled in the open spaces.

Well, all that has come to an end — I hope forever.  The birding center got together enough budget to get out there and clear the areas of encroachment so that the habitat will soon revert to something more like what it has been traditionally before the interference of men.

Laguna Madre is Hypersaline

One of the relatively unusual features of the birding center here is it’s location.  It sits on the edge of Laguna Madre which is one of only 5 hyper saline lagoons in the WORLD.  With salinity rates between 1.3 and 1.5 times the saltiness of the ocean it is a unique place indeed.

Within the birding center they have managed to contain three separate ecosystems, as there is saltwater marsh and a freshwater stream as well as an area of brackish mix. I’m not a fountain of information about this place but I know what I like and I have found this little corner of South Padre Island to be a special place for me to recharge my batteries and to soak up appreciation for the amazing creation around us.  Some places are just more “home” than others.

At the moment, the clearing of unwanted vegetation has made a mess of the ground, but the critters don’t care. And I’m sure that the abundance of birds and species that we’ve enjoyed in the past will return again now that the habitat is closer to what was intended when the center was built.

I wish I’d taken time to capture pictures of how overgrown it had gotten.  These images of the current condition look a bit barren but in a couple months that will all change.

I’m looking forward to the next few months and the coming years with eager enthusiasm!  It has been getting increasingly difficult to get good sightings of many birds because of how overgrown the refuge had gotten.  It’s going to be wonderful once again.



3 thoughts on “Changes at the Birding Center

  1. We had a nature center near my office before I retired that would burn off certain areas that had been growing crops for a number of years. Their goal was to restore the land to the natural prairie that had existed there before man came along. It’s good to see these areas restored to what they are supposed to be, Peter.

    Have you ever wondered what this earth will look like 10 thousand years from now?


    1. I think a lot about what the earth will look like — 10,000 years from now, and 100 years from now, and 10 years from now. I think the Native American saying about our stewardship is so true, “We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” One of the reasons I’m concerned about the craziness in Washington is that anyone can tear down. You don’t need skilled labor to destroy. One ‘bull in the china shop’ can ruin all the merchandise; one short-sighted CEO can unhinge agencies and oversight that have taken decades to organize and set the viability of this country back 100 years.

      I feel sorry for the generations beyond ours; the Me generation has screwed up a lot and I don’t see any easy solutions to the problems we have caused. With populations rising we are inevitably headed either for pestilence or for war — sooner or later. China will not be contained by it’s boundaries; other nations face life and death situations; it’s not a lighthearted scenario.

      I have faith in a final outcome. Extreme faith.;But that does not mean that I don’t understand and feel the pain that can be caused getting there, and that is being caused today. Empathy is a blessing and a curse I think.

      I surely do agree about the good feeling of seeing things returned to their natural state. The Earth has a mechanism — no gears, but it’s extremely complex and we simply don’t understand enough of it. In the pool the other day the conversation got onto pollution and how bad the methane from cows is. I couldn’t help think that with the rise in population, the rise in protein consumption, and the decline in forests and green spaces that function to take pollutants OUT of the air it’s just another example of how we humans exert influences that are counter productive to our own survival. But…. business is good they would tell you, and profit is good, and the fact that third or fourth generation landowners sold off their lumber for a quick buck and destroyed the ability of the earth to heal itself…. yeah… that’s not so good.

      When I was in college, one of our cultural geography courses touched on the ‘mechanism’ of desertification. (desert, not desserts, just to be clear) When the likes of Haille Selassie clearcut vast forests to enrich themselves, denuding once verdant landscapes, they doomed their heirs to what soon became deserts and starvation because the land, without trees could not hold soil, the winds took over, the heat compounded the effect and today Ethiopia is a human rights tragedy — just because a greedy ruler wanted a few more Francs, or Pounds, or whatever. Our wealthy today are doing the metaphorical same thing. We just haven’t yet seen the unintended consequences of their greed.


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