It was always fun to visit Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge in summer to see the swallows. The refuge was famous in former years for the Barn Swallows which nested in the eaves of the visitors' center that stood at its entrance. The visitors' center is gone now, destroyed as so much else was by Hurricane Ike, and it has recently been replaced by a state-of-the-art new center that is actually several miles away from the refuge, two miles off Highway 10E at the 810 exit. It is a beautiful center and serves not only Anahuac but other wildlife refuges in the area.
Where the old visitors' center used to stand, a new gazebo has been constructed, and the Barn Swallows have returned and now nest in the gazebo. When we were there last week, it seemed to me that there were not as many nests as in previous years, but still there were plenty of the beautiful fast-fliers around.
As I walked around the pond next to the gazebo, I saw evidence that some of the pairs of birds had already raised their young.
While I watched, the parents would fly by every few minutes and bring food for the hungry chicks. They fed them literally on the fly, only hovering briefly to deliver the meal.
Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge is still recovering from the devastation caused by Ike, but the swallows are back in good numbers, and that is a very good sign.