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      Nature Report:Refuge Morning

      The sun is just beginning to peek over the big lake at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. The Laguna Atascosa, or muddy lagoon the refuge is named for, is slick calm this morning, and the placid surface reflects the early light like a mirror. As the sun breaks free of the distant horizon the yellow gold orb casts a pathway of shimmering light across the lake.

      Perfectly calm mornings are not the norm in deep South Texas, and such a dawn as this is well worth arising early. Without a breath of wind, the haunting calls of sandhill cranes carry easily across the glassy sheen of water. Even though a few sandhills linger before migrating north, spring is in full swing in southernmost Texas. Blooming yuccas line the lomas and the pitas, as they are called in Spanish, are reflected in the still waters. A raccoon patrols the waters edge, and pauses briefly in the grass. His fur is backlit with the morning light and glows. The masked marauder appears in no hurry to depart and lingers for several minutes before moving on. Out on the lake a white pelican stands still in the shallow water, casting a perfect reflection in the surface.

      A redhead duck floats placidly on the mirrored laguna it's golden eye shining in the morning sun. A curlew stalks the grassy shoreline, and an avocet feeds nearby. Wading the shallows, spoonbills are resplendent in their rich pink plumage. Laguna Atascosa teems with waterfowl, and it is the best of both worlds this time of year as winter migrants linger and spring blooms abound. With your Nature Report I'm Richard Moore