Last week we went down to Orange to visit R’s parents. While there we visited the heronry at Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, which recently reopened after recovering from Hurricane Ike. It was ridiculously hot so we didn’t spend much time at the gardens. Instead, we headed for the heronry which has a beautiful bird blind built over the water right in the middle of the trees, which are full of nests.
We didn’t actually see any herons, but there were hundreds of Great Egrets, Double-crested Cormorants, Cattle Egrets and Roseate Spoonbills, many of which were tending nests with juveniles in varying stages of development. We also saw Fish Crows, Northern Mockingbirds, and an American Robin.
According to Shangri La’s website, “Since the publication of the book Lost Horizon in 1933, the term ‘Shangri La’ has represented a place of beauty, peace and enlightenment.”
The modern Shangri La in Orange has managed to live up to the name despite having to rebuild in the wake of two hurricanes. But, rebuild they did, even using wood from trees felled by Ike. Perhaps that’s part of how it became the 1st project in Texas and only 50th in the world to earn the U.S. Green Building Council’s Platinum certification.
I got a huge kick out of watching the nests. The nestlings in the spoonbill nest had hatched about a month earlier so I assume they’ll be leaving the nest soon considering how crowded it was getting in there.
Roseate Spoonbill was a life bird for me, which is a bit ironic since the first time I ever saw a picture of one was in a funeral home. I’ve been to that funeral home down in Orange too many times and I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the painting of the Roseate Spoonbill.
It was good to see them so thoroughly in life.
I could have spent hours there had it not been well over 100 degrees out. I look forward to returning when it’s a bit cooler. Perhaps we’ll take one of the boat rides into the bayou and see some alligators.