RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — As the sun rises above the distant horizon, scores of ephemeral wetlands are revealed in dawn’s first light.
Far below, hundreds of snow geese lift off from their watery roost on morning flights to their favorite feeding grounds.
A handful of ducks burst from their aquatic domain, leaving swirling circles in the placid watermarking their point of departure.
With the sun’s inexorable ascent, a panorama of waterfowl stretches as far as the eyes can see. Thousands of ducks are too numerous to count, as myriad species float peacefully below including coots, pintails, shovelers, canvasbacks, and redheads with their distinctive crowns glowing in the sun.
The Laguna Madre and adjacent coastal wetlands of deep South Texas are historic wintering grounds for millions of waterfowl, and 80% of North American Redhead ducks make the annual pilgrimage totaling some 700,000.
In addition to ducks, geese, Sandhill cranes and countless throngs of shorebirds are hundreds of magnificent White pelicans that soar southward on nine-foot wingspans to the land of the yucca.
With a potential life span of two decades or more, many of these avian winter Texans arriving annually from as far as breeding grounds in North Dakota have no doubt migrated to these familiar waters many times before.
Languidly grooming and paddling shallows in a favorite secluded roost, this flock of several hundred White pelicans leaves the water strewn with feathers conjuring images of a South Texas snowfall.
As the sun slips beyond the western horizon, the immaculate White pelicans reflect a subtle pinkish hue as they absorb the last light of day.
What a marvelous gift to behold this sacred sanctuary and savor its peaceful repose.
The remaining undisturbed wetlands of the Rio Grande Valley are a treasure of incalculable value to man and wildlife that together share this remarkable tip of Texas.