Poised motionless in the early morning stillness along the shore of the Lower Laguna Madre, a great blue heron stands ready to snatch any unwary fish that swims by. With its rapier like bill and gleaming golden eye reflecting the dawn light, the heron is a study in concentration. Without a trace of wind, the surface of the bay mirrors the great blue as it turns its head in anticipation of a potential meal.
It’s a beautiful morning at the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, and there is no better place to see the avian residents of the Lower Laguna Madre. Kristin Howard is the director of the Center, and she has a special appreciation for the wildlife that resides here. Kristin Howard, Director SPI Birding and Nature Center says, “It is very peaceful here at the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. There are times that I might get really busy upstairs in my office, and I just come out here and walk the boardwalks and look at the birds, and the fish and the turtles and just the plants. It’s just a wonderful place to be.”
Joining the great blue heron on this tranquil morning, a great egret slowly wades the placid waters in search of prey. Nearby in the lush wetlands, a green heron stalks the shallows, but misses with its thrust. As one of the Rio Grande Valley’s nine World Birding Center sites, the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center is open seven days a week and offers visitors a rare opportunity to get close to coastal creatures.
Kristin Howard says, “We are very proud of it. It is one of the best-kept secrets on the island. It is a great place for birders to come, for tourists to come.”