HIGH ISLAND, Texas — I’m officially mad at myself.
My wife, sons and I lived on the Texas Gulf Coast for nearly 11 years and we never visited this place. It’s the Smith Oaks Rookery on High Island, about 40 or so miles from Beaumont.
It also is one of the premier “birding” sites on Earth. That’s right. One of the best in the world! People come from all across the world to see this place.
My wife and I visited this oasis with friends; a couple of our friends visited briefly with a visitor from Maine, who happened the know the species of a particular bird that caught our eye. She’d never been to Smith Oaks, but knew the bird’s identity.
The rookery stood in the path of Hurricane Harvey this past summer. It suffered some damage. The fresh water turned brackish because of the storm surge that swept ashore from the Gulf of Mexico.
On this day, though, it was full of birds. Herons, spoonbills, cormorants, egrets. They were everywhere. This happens to be the nesting period. Birds were building nests. Some were tending to and feeding young birds.
What a wonderful sight to see!
If you look at the picture I posted with this brief item, you’ll notice an alligator at the water’s edge. The beast looked to be about a 10-footer. He was one of two prehistoric creatures we saw lounging in the 70-degree sunshine.
The rookery is sponsored by the Houston Audoban Society. You pay a small fee to enter it. I’ll just say this right here: It is money well spent.
I need to ask myself now: Why in the world did we never visit this place when we lived just down the road?
I suppose it isn’t that uncommon to take for granted nature’s treasures that sit just beyond our doorstep. So, we had to drive here all the way from the other corner of this huge state to take in a natural wonder.