VENT Teams with ABC on Donor Weekend August 14, 2008

Posted by Barry Lyon

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Barry Lyon

Barry Lyon's passion for the outdoors and birding has its roots in his childhood in southern California. During his teenage years, he attended several VENT/ABA youth birdin...

The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) held its annual donor's trip on the Upper Texas Coast April 24-28, 2008. For the second straight year, Victor Emanuel Nature Tours was proud to host the event. As a member of ABC's Board of Directors, Victor Emanuel was present to lead the trip, along with Barry Lyon. Dr. George Fenwick, Executive Director of ABC, was in attendance and gave everyone an opportunity to hear about the exciting work his organization is doing.

Based out of a private beach house near the tip of the Bolivar Peninsula, the group relaxed amid pleasant and bird-filled natural surroundings. Unlike a hotel or lodge, a beach house afforded guests greater privacy and more time to learn of ongoing ABC projects and its goals for the future. Three exciting days of birding in the High Island area allowed for visits to all the region's major birding sites and provided participants with a storehouse of memories to take home.

The setting was wonderful. With a sundeck fronting onto the mudflats and marshes of the Bolivar flats, everybody enjoyed splendid views of shorebirds and waders while sipping wine and enjoying each other's company on the mild April afternoons. Away from the house, the birding proved superb at each of the areas we visited. The rookery at High Island was at peak activity. Nesting spoonbills, egrets, herons, cormorants, and Anhingas provided an amazing scene of unending activity. The surrounding woods held scores of migrant songbirds, and the better part of one morning was spent viewing a collection of songbirds freshly arrived from their nighttime migration over the Gulf of Mexico. Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Baltimore Oriole, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Scarlet and Summer tanagers were among the more memorable finds, but, as always, it was the warblers that beckoned. Small groups found throughout the woods included Cerulean, Bay-breasted, Blackburnian, and Prothonotary warblers, and American Redstart.

As one of our country's top birding sites, Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge was outstanding as always. Least Bitterns, Purple Gallinules, and Hudsonian Godwits were among the highlights of a morning there, while a return visit one afternoon culminated in a sighting of an ultra-furtive Black Rail. Other memorable activities included a roadside stop outside the refuge for Bobolinks, Dickcissels, and a calling Northern Bobwhite, and a beach walk on the Bolivar flats for a spectacular shorebird and wader spectacle.

In a relatively short period of time, the American Bird Conservancy has developed into one of the country's most important and effective conservation organizations. Its work, here at home as well as in Latin America, has been nothing short of remarkable. As a foundation of its conservation goals, ABC has identified 80 species of birds in the Americas that are seriously threatened with extinction, and has been instrumental in the setting aside of protected areas for over half of these species.

VENT is proud of its affiliation with ABC and strongly supports its projects and goals. We look forward to continuing our relationship with this fine organization.