Sunrise at the Rockefeller Refuge
April 29, 2004
Rhea's Journal 12

I am not a "morning person," and the prospect of waking up at 5 a.m. ordinarily wouldn't appeal to me very much. However, today in the exciting setting of the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge would be very special and, thus, different. Despite my normal predisposition to sleep heavily, I slept lightly and was awake before the alarm clock sounded. A few minutes later, my husband, Leon, and I were on the way into a nearby marsh area to witness sunrise with its attendant, timely wildlife activity, not the least of which would be the loud choruses of diverse songbirds. As we left the dormitory and headed down a levee road, there was only a narrow red band of light expanding across the eastern horizon. Nevertheless, by the time we reached the open ponds in the southwest corner of the road system, we were able to see the sunrise in full "Technicolor" splendor. While my camera clicked away, in my mind I envisioned all those spectacular colors in a future painting.

We, of course, were not the only ones out and active early. Refuge wildlife was visibly everywhere. Besides the numerous songbirds, many of which we could hear but not see, there were rabbits scooting around, Canada Geese and their goslings waddling along the roadside, and alligators sliding into the nearby canals. To our additional delight we saw deer, Fulvous tree and mottled ducks, coots, cormorants, water turkeys, mourning dove, white pelicans, snowy egrets, herons, swallows, red-winged blackbirds, starlings, finches, tern, rails, snipe, kingfishers, muskrat, nutria, and more alligators - and these were just the reptiles, birds, and mammals that we could identify.

For almost an hour we watched the sun light up the morning sky, turning it into a dazzling kaleidoscope of color. We swatted at a few nearby mosquitoes that the hungry birds weren't gobbling up. When finally the sky began to fade into bright light blue, we headed back to the dormitory for breakfast. In the kitchen we met three LSU marine biology students who arrived late the night before. They come and stay in the West End Bunkhouse about once a month and travel in a nearby area of Cameron Parish to do red snapper research. My husband joked about hopefully one day soon doing some serious speckled trout and redfish "harvest technique research" from his boat.

We then packed up and headed out again to explore the beaches and wetlands to the west toward the Sabine River. While we were leaving, the fair weather cumulous cloud structures in the morning light were so beautiful I just had to linger at the refuge a little longer for a few more photographs. It was like the old saying goes . . . "just couldn't get enough of a good thing." Heaven knows, it was very difficult to finally break away from the plethora of good things for an active wetlands preservationist to do and see at the very remarkable Rockefeller refuge!

The Rockefeller State Wildlife Refuge and nearby Price Lake recreation area just to the west are open to the public from sunrise until sundown only from March 1 to December 1. These sites are closed to the public during the winter months, when the migratory birds need safety from human hunting while either passing through or settling in to reside for a while.