What unforeseen impacts will our actions have generations from now? Now returning after a writing hiatus that lasted a few months, I find myself asking this question. Rifling through the drawers of my mind, reminiscing about the days I spent waiting for SN10 to launch, I keep coming back to my day at the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. Having never been to this area of Texas, I assumed this area was much like the rest of the state. That means dry. I was surprised to find that this refuge was brimming with life.
The sound of constant chirping drew me down a path where I found a small bench in front of a small clearing. Two small baths were on the ground along with countless perches for birds to hang out on. Oranges had been scattered about to draw them in and I sat down to see a show break out in front of me.
Everywhere I looked there were birds. They would swoop in from above. Hop around on the ground. Tease each other, play with each other. There must have been at least 50 individuals from countless species buzzing about and I was taken aback by the amount of interaction they all shared.
What else was there to discover in this small park? I hadn’t even scratched the surface and was already astounded. I saw the path led to a bird blind and I quietly slipped inside to take my position behind the wall. A patchwork of small holes to squeeze a lens through opened up a window into the undisturbed life of this avian neighborhood. Suddenly I was a fly on the wall as I watched green jays jump about joined by cardinals looking for a bit of seed.
As the shutter clicked away I reveled in the voyeuristic nature of birding. I had ceased to exist and had become a mechanism to simply record. The solitude brought on a sense of relaxation that I have found hard to replicate with another activity and time passed ignorantly away while I became obsessed with a mockingbird.
What an interesting species of bird. Not particularly beautiful. Not in any way graceful. Yet something about them draws so many of us in that multiple states have chosen it as their official bird. As I watched it I noticed how intelligent it was, being able to recognize individual birds in the groups and act differently with each one. With each new bird it interacted with, it made a new noise almost as if it spoke different languages. This single bird simply seemed so human.
A walk down an old beaten grass path. I find another interesting bird atop a blooming yucca. I had never seen the plant in this stage of life and sat in wonder, letting myself soak in the beauty that can only be found on the path less taken. The chachalacas twisted its neck around as it reached for the sweet blossoms below and we meet eyes for a split second, acknowledging each others existence. Both finding a moment of content lost in the bushes.
I break through the foliage and find myself greeted by the water of Laguna Madre. Mothers Lagoon is such an apt name. One could say water in itself is the mother of all life. The soft sound of the waves pulsing against the shore reverberates throughout the air joined by the faint rustle of the wind blowing in the leaves. All while the birds that helped make today so awesome sing a chorus in the distance.
What unforeseen impacts will we have on the future? I started this entry out with that question and I’d like to now return with my reasoning. As I said, I have been on a bit of a hiatus and spending time at my cabin up in Minnesota. In years past, there has been an abundance of song birds that would fill the air with their tunes. This year though, they have been mysteriously dying. It’s almost as if they suddenly fall from the sky.
Interested in finding out why, I did a few cursory searches and it seems as if there isn’t an answer. Scientists have ruled out multiple bacterias as well as avian viruses. They had a hypothesis linking the deaths to the cicada hatching this year but it also affects areas outside of cicada territory so that has been ruled out as well. We just don’t know why.
Could it be linked to humans? I find it hard to think that there isn’t some sort of link knowing how much impact we have on the surrounding environment. Birds (as well as other migratory species) have such a huge range that they cover year round, upsetting a single part of their chain could lead to an imbalance that isn’t seen in the direct area that it takes place in.
Ah the hubris of humans. Of course if the effects aren’t noticeable in the direct area, the community denies that they have any responsibility. I’m not an ecologist but I’m pretty sure the entire worlds ecosystem is interconnected. Anything we do will have an effect elsewhere and the fragile gift that we have had the privilege of evolving into is consistently on the brink of falling apart. Before long, we might not have refuges like Laguna Atascosa at all.
Closest Supercharger South San Padre Island
100 Padre Blvd, South Padre Island, TX 78597
Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
22688 Buena Vista Blvd, Los Fresnos, TX 78566