Laura Erickson's For the Birds

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Houston Audubon Update

From the Houston Audubon website:

October 12 Update: Help us restore habitat on the Bolivar Peninsula! Hurricane Ike decimated many Purple Martin houses and old buildings where Barn Owls nest. Houston Audubon is stepping up with an important recovery effort for these species on the Bolivar Peninsula. We are looking for donations of martin houses as well as owl boxes that will be set up throughout the peninsula in the upcoming months. More information on the nestbox program. We hope to start a program to provide trees and shrubs for the Peninsula. Members are encouraged to dig up and pot hackberries, oaks, mulberries and other suitable plants. Please contact Flo Hannah for more information.

High Island: Once again, High Island's woods were impacted by a hurricane; trees are down, trails blocked, boardwalks damaged, and branches and leaves are everywhere. Several of our ponds were inundated with salt water and we are not sure what the long term impact of that will be. Most of the vegetation in those ponds is already dying. Hopefully we will soon have adequate rain to dilute the salt. Claybottom Pond where the Rookery is was not inundated with salt water but all of the trees on the island are gone. The cypresses on the east end of the pond did not appear to be damaged.
Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary: At Bolivar Flats the roadside and marsh are in good shape, although there are a lot of plastic bags on the fences. The beach looks very different. When you get to the end of Rettilon Rd., there is a large hole caused by water running out of the marsh. The beach has been moved back to the vehicular barrier that was parallel to the beach, and this barrier is pretty well destroyed. Much of the sand from the beach was pushed inland along with some debris, really not much compared to what is everywhere else. The vehicular barrier where everyone parks is still there but will need some work. The observation tower is gone, but we may have found it in Horseshoe Marsh. I don't think we can get it back to Bolivar Flats. There is a large empty Del Monte shipping container in the grass, and there appears to be another shipping container back in the marsh.
Horseshoe Marsh Sanctuary: The part of the sanctuary closest to the ferry landing is a mess. Debris from the houses in Port Bolivar washed into the sanctuary, and it will be a big job to clean it up. Fortunately most of the fences are still up.
Mundy Marsh Sanctuary: From a preliminary assessment, the sanctuary appears to be in good shape except that the sign and fences were down. From our vantage point we did not see a lot of house debris in the marsh.
Dos Vacas Muertas: This sanctuary on Galveston Island was named after the two dead cows which had been found there after Hurricane Carla, and it has survived Ike as well. Preliminary reports that the trees are still standing are reassuring.

Read more about conditions at the coastal sanctuaries in our Sanctuary Blog. We need lots of help with coastal cleanups. Work day dates have been scheduled through December. Please refer to the volunteer page for sign up directions.

- Winnie Burkett, Sanctuary Manager

Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary