HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — You just never know what surprises will unfold in South Texas outdoors, and as Richard Moore shows us, 2021 was extraordinary from February’s frigid weather to the summer appearance of a rare flamingo.
2021 was a remarkable year in South Texas outdoors from captivating January sunrises to December skeins of geese filling wintry skies with primordial calls of the wild.
February’s freeze ravaged Rio Grande Valley wildlands from bay to brush, killing sea turtles and fish while damaging habitat and stressing wildlife.
However, hardy native plants and animals rebounded buoyed by extraordinarily bountiful late spring and summer rains.
Spring migration brightened Valley backyards with brilliantly hued Indigo buntings and gorgeous Rose-breasted grosbeaks.
Every year, during the latter part of June and the first few weeks of July, White-tailed deer are born, and this season’s flourishing habitat sparked a bumper crop of spotted fawns.
Resident Muscovy ducks raised multiple broods from tree hollows, with precocious chicks boldly diving to unite with their siblings on the march to nearby resacas where they were joined by families of whistling ducks.
Along with the coast scores of skimmers nested on the bare ground where young feasted on the catch of the day.
Throughout the year, Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge celebrated its 75th anniversary. The sanctuary was fortuitously drenched with more than 22 inches of rain by August, setting the scene for the river of migratory waterfowl flowing southward during fall migration and providing ample wetlands for resident alligators.
Before the multitude of ducks, geese, and Sandhill cranes arrived, a solitary flamingo appeared lingering for several weeks before vanishing. This was only the ninth documented time for a wild flamingo to alight in Texas.
By October, waterfowl began arriving in ever-increasing numbers including impressive flocks of wintering White pelicans.
With the year coming full circle, December skies once again fill with clarion calls of geese and Sandhill cranes heralding the close of a memorable year in South Texas outdoors.