Hurricane Ike left a trail of destruction through the Upper Texas Coast and neighboring Louisiana. Here is a summary of effects on bird habitats and birding hotspots:
• A sheen of oil washed onto McFadden and Anahuac National Wildlife Refuges. A refuge manager told the Associated Press that the oil is a threat to wetlands and birds. "All we know is wildlife doesn't respond well to oil," he said. In addition, McFadden, Anahuac, and Texas Point refuges are all closed.
• High Island and Bolivar Peninsula are closed. Winnie Burkett, sanctuary manager for Houston Audubon, posted this message on the society's website: "Access is not being allowed onto Bolivar Peninsula and High Island. I talked with our High Island caretaker, Houston Sliger. He said that all High Island residents are being told to leave as there will be no services for at least a month. He commented that the Boy Scout Woods boardwalk out to the wastewater pond overlook was heavily damaged by waves!!!! There are dead cows everywhere and live cows walking all over High Island. I guess we will not be birding in the woods this fall." Houston Audubon's Edith L. Moore and Sims Bayou Sanctuaries are closed as well. Photos here.
• This satellite image from NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) shows oily water near High Island. The folks at Google have collected more NOAA images from the Houston/Galveston area.
• At Big Thicket National Preserve, "massive search and rescue operations" were underway yesterday. Today, saw crews are removing trees from employees' homes and clearing roads.
• Four wildlife refuges in Louisiana are closed. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued this statement yesterday: "Sabine, Lacassine, Cameron Prairie, and Shell Keys National Wildlife Refuges will be closed to all public access and recreational use. Hurricane Ike has done extensive damage throughout southwest Louisiana and the National Wildlife Refuges were not spared. For public safety concerns all the refuge entrance gates will be closed. The refuge will re-open when it is determined safe for public access and after damages are assessed. For additional information about the closure or re-opening dates and times, call our Southwest Louisiana National Wildlife Refuge Complex Office at 337-598-2216."
• The Houston Arboretum and Nature Center is closed. Photos here.
We'll report more developments as we learn them. If you have Ike-related news for us, please leave a comment or let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. — M.M.