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We have missed the boat!
Marsh Musings
Dam Witt

I’m embarrassed to tell you this. Our Bottoms have no water, birds, or anything to urge us to go see it. It is a gift that Jason and his crews can deal with phragmites and noxious weeds and overgrown areas with a lot of success. I can only take pictures of so many dry pools. I discovered something this week that completely took me by surprise!

Quivira National Refuge has water. A lot of water! There are springs in those sand hills that keep water in some of the salt marshes. I drove down there this week just because I hadn’t been there in a couple of months and didn’t expect to see much except more dry pools and muck. I was dead wrong! The Wildlife Drive is alive and well. The area north of there is dry (where the Snowy Plovers nest) and barren.

The variety of shore birds, geese, ducks, egrets – is amazing. There are some nice pictures that I never expected to get. (Readers can see Doc’s photos in color at  

The Avocets are molting in preparation for migration and mating up north. Resident geese are happy in the west side of Wildlife Drive. There are lots of White-faced Ibis that have stayed in the area since spring. If the sandpipers are your dish – there are so many different species it is amazing! I’m trying to learn that group better – start with the color of the legs and go from there. Several talented birders can give you lots of good info on identifying sandpipers. Start with Rob Penner and Mike Rader and Elizabeth from San Antonio that is new to our area.

The Snowy Egrets are really odd in the heat – normally they squabble and flash their feathers and squawk at each other – now they are standing close without a fuss – has to be the heat slowing them down. The Black-necked Stilts have babies that are growing fast! What elegant birds! I saw only a few pelicans and gulls. They may already be on the move. The birds seemed to be congregating in similar groups. The Great Egrets were in the same area, and the Snowy Egrets were hanging together. It was 3 p.m. in the afternoon and the temperature was 103. I didn’t see any cattle egrets at all. I suspect they were all out on cow patrol. The lack of energy and the lack of interaction between species or individuals was a testimony to the effects of the heat. I was there for 2 hours and never saw another vehicle or person. It was like being in a surreal environment that just took my breath. I walked about a mile of the drive, and the birds were almost lethargic and had little inclination to fly or escape. It was just one of those odd “time capsule” moments. Go see these amazing birds and support Quivira and our Bottoms if you can.

We have another special person with talent in a unique arena. Karole Erickson knows butterflies. I don’t know butterflies at all – the names alone have a special ring and seem to project a mystical, beautiful, and almost spiritual sound. I hope some of the service clubs invite her to present – and I hope I haven’t upset her by sharing this info. She and Jay are huge pillars in the natural world and photography in this area. Their backyard must be off the chart.

Harold Tiede marked his 90th birthday this week. It puts a lump in my throat to offer a tribute to this great man. He has started most of us in this area that are now bow hunters. He loaned me his bow and some arrows after teaching me the basics for my initial exposure to bow hunting in Canada. He and his family have been icons in Heiser and around the world for many years and his wisdom, calmness, and precision have made all of us better hunters and better people. Harold, I hope I can shake your hand when you kick 100!  

Respectfully and gratefully — Doc

Doctor Dan Witt is a retired physician and nature enthusiast. He can be reached via email at