Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge

A second look

By Gary Truchelut

Several years ago I had made the short journey from Nacogdoches, TX, where I lived at the time, to Anahuac NWR with two friends. We actually began the day by going to High Island where we had a magical morning with many exhausted small songbirds and nesting herons, spoonbills, egrets and cormorants. Ah, but that’s another story. We ended up at the refuge to see what we could find and were very disappointed in the variety and quantity of birds we found that day. We promised each other to return when the timing was right.


About 9 months ago, my wife and I moved about 90 miles from Nacogdoches to the small community of Coldspring on Lake Livingston. We have been so busy with the move and remodeling an older home, I hadn’t thought much about going back down to the refuge. I joined a local Nature and Wildlife Meet-up Group to meet some new shooting buddies and found there was a trip planned in January, so I signed up.


I really wasn’t sure what equipment to take so as usual, I loaded almost everything I had including 2 camera bodies, assorted lenses from 10mm to 400mm with 1.4 and a 2.0 tele-converters. I packed my flash with Better-beamer, tripod with ball head and monopod with Wimberly Gimbal as well as a flash light and assorted media cards. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, snacks and water.


I wanted to get down early so I headed out on Saturday and checked out the refuge that evening. I was amazed at the diversity of birds and how close I could get to them without disrupting their behavior. There is one large marsh called Shoveler’s Pond which is surrounded by an elevated road for good viewing. I shot most of the images for the evening without leaving the car. I saw and took images of Greater White-fronted Geese, Northern Shovelers, Pied-billed Grebes, Blue-winged Teal, Gadwall, Northern Pintails, Lesser Scaup and Ruddy Duck, to name a few.



The next morning, the group met at 8:00 for introductions and discussion of what to expect, then headed out, each in our own direction to see what we could find. I made two passes around Shoveler’s Pond, gaining many more good exposures. I then drove around some other areas where I was able to get out of the car and observe a large flock of Snow Geese coming in and out of a feeding plot. This was my favorite location for shooting as I had not had the opportunity to photograph many geese in the past. I found that I used my Canon 7d coupled to the 400mm f2.8 through the 2X tele-converter for most of my shooting at the refuge. It was overkill on the closest subjects but for those long shots, it was perfect. I had mounted it on my monopod with the Wimberly gimbal mount. This combo worked well when shooting from outside the vehicle. When in the car, I used the same camera and lens laid across the windowsill of the car door. It was cumbersome but worked well enough to get me by.


Everyone in the group found plenty to photograph, from a Great Egret with a live snake to thousands of Snow Geese in the adjoining lands. We all were worn out  by 10:30 or 11 o’clock am. Every one of us had taken many great images and had great memories as well as made some new friends. We parted ways and vowed to do this again very soon.

More of Gary's work can be seen at his website:



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