Yesterday, a coworker asked me if, after work, I would like to drive almost two hours to Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge on a wild goose chase. My answer, “I’m there!”
Technically, we went on a wild Godwit chase. Brazoria NWR is currently playing host to a very rare visitor, the Black-tailed Godwit. This large shorebird is typically found in Asia, Europe and Africa, and this is the first time it has ever made its way to Texas.
The Gulf Coast, particularly the Texan Gulf Coast, is a wonderful place to be a bird watcher. From South Padre Island, and all the way up the shore, each year Texas gets more than its fair share of migratory misfits and accidental visitors, making us one of the best birding spots in North America. There’s even a website devoted entirely to rare birds spotted in Texas.
Brazoria NWR is a pretty large place, so we were literally looking for one bird among hundreds of ponds and thousands of birds. Our plan, look for the group of people on the side of the road staring through binoculars and spotting scopes. The plan worked perfectly, and we got a spectacular view of the singular bird from no more than 100 yards away. The friendly group of bird watchers consisted of several Houstonians, a couple who had driven 4 hours to see the bird, and a man from California who flew out specifically to see this rarity.
While seeing such a rare bird (at least for this part of the world) and adding another count to my ‘life list’ is wonderful, the best part of the outing was speaking to the ranchers and locals driving past on their way home from work. Severals stopped and asked if the bird was still there, and smiled and shook their heads, telling us to have a great day. One man said he’d be by again tomorrow and hoped the Godwit was still around.
Maybe they don’t understand the point of standing around and watching a brown bird bathe and flit around a pond, but they certainly were happy we were there, and hopefully that makes them a little more appreciative of our remaining wild places, and the strange birds (and people) who visit them.
If you’re interested in starting a new hobby, why not try bird watching? There’s no better way to start than a weekend day trip to the beautiful Brazoria NWR and a glimpse of a very rare bird! Just look for the group of binocular-faces on the side of the road. Don’t have binoculars? Don’t worry, you won’t be there for 30 seconds before someone offers you the loan of their binoculars or spotting scope!