The Christmas Bird Count has been an annual event for more than a hundred years. The season runs from December 14th through January 5th. During that time each area has a specific day for its bird count. Today is Matagorda County’s day.
James Arnold spent 40-years as a fisherman and oysterman on Matagorda Bay. Since his retirement he’s devoted his life to his on the water bird watching tours and promoting the area as a natural vacation spot.
“I think you’ll see that you’ll fall in love with this place when you get out here.”
We were at the spot where the Intercostals Waterway meets the Colorado River. The day was bright blue, cool and breezy a perfect day to be on the water.
“All along the shore there’s going to be shoreline birds, egrets and heron and plovers. One thing about these birds you’re going to have to look to see’em.”
Arnold says there’s a reason the area has won 15 North American bird count days — nine of them in a row. He says it’s because there is a long fresh water canal that parallels the Intercoastal.
“It’s fresh water in a saltwater environment. This is the last place the birds can get fresh water as they’re migrating south and it’s the first place they get fresh water when they migrate back north.”
While this day was great for humans Betsy Terrel, who runs the Matagorda Bay Nature Center, says for bird count day colder weather brings species to the area. Even on this day we saw lots of wildlife.
“Well right now we’re seeing Black Skimmers, we’re seeing White Pelicans, we’re seeing Brown Pelicans and we’re seeing several different varieties of Plovers.”
That’s in addition to lots of Heron, Kingfishers, two Eagles, several Ospreys and even a pair of Dolphins.
The Nature Center is down highway20-31 where the Colorado River to where it empties into the gulf. On one side is a pedestrian only stretch of beach and on the other a full service RV park where bird watchers and snow birds like to stay.
Terrel says the Nature Center’s is all about getting people out and involved in adjacent 1600-acres.
“We kind of feel that if you have a chance to experience it that you’re going to have more of a tendency to want to take care of it”
As James Arnold says there’s a lot for people to love—birds too.
“We have a diversified habitat, prairies, saltwater, marshes, woodlands, prairie land farmland. We have everything here that the birds need and want.”
Galveston’s bird count day is tomorrow.