Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Rio Grande Valley

 For the month of February we are based at Bentsen Palm RV Park adjacent to the World Birding Center of the Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park.  It's great to be able to walk next door to miles of trails.  The park affords opportunities to experience sub-tropical environment including a new variety of plants and animals.  These Green Jays to the left are one of the specialty birds that people come to see in S. Texas.

We also traveled to nearby birding areas for some of the rarities:  Estero Llano Grande State Park with it's great variety of habitats where we found all the herons and egrets, many ducks and shorebirds and the specialty everyone was looking for - the Rose-throated Becard.

Quinta Mazatlan, a historical 1935 adobe estate now a city park dedicated to birds where we found a Tropical Parula and our first Carolina Wren.

Anzalduos County Park where we found and reported a Horned Grebe (rare inTexas) and a Northern Beardless Tyrannulet.

Frontera Audubon Thicket in Weslaco where we
searched for hours in the warm rain and found the Golden-crowned Warbler - a life bird for us.

To the right is pictured the Hawk Tower and Resaca (Rio Grande oxbow) at Bentsen where we spent many hours scanning the skies for vultures and birds of prey drifting from Mexico into the United States.  We saw White-tailed Kites, Red-shouldered and Harris's Hawks, and a Zone-tailed Hawk.  Looking below in the resaca we had many ducks, shorebirds, waders, flycatchers and pipits.

Pictured to the left is a Plain Chachalaca scarfing peanut butter by the Nature Center in Bentsen.  Many of these noisy birds came as soon as the feeders were filled.  There were also Clay-colored Thrushes, Altamira & Streak-backed Oriole, Pyrrhuloxia, Greater Kiskadees.  On the grounds we found Vermillion Flycatchers, Gray Hawks,  Green & Ringed Kingfishers, and Black-headed Grosbeak.  Spiny Blue Lizards, Diamond-backed Water snakes, Nine-banded Armadillos, and large variety of butterflies constituted additional wildlife.

We also found Hook-billed Kites and Monk Parakeets in Hidalgo, White Ibis in Edenburg, and enjoyed a day and a half at Santa Ana NWR.

It has also been fun connecting and birding with friends from Wisconsin.  Spending the winter here at Bentsen are Tom & Carol Sykes and Jerry & Karen Smith who directed us to area target birds.  Our nine month journey list stands at 540 and counting.

We have enjoyed attending Palm Valley Church here in Mission,Texas through which we supported Guatemalan orphanage missionaries for many years.  Bye for now,  Ty & Ida

Thursday, February 2, 2012

West Texas

Our trip through far Southeastern Arizona and New Mexico was a bit chilly and only a few birds were found.  A couple nights had temps down to 18 degrees.  We did see Scaled Quail and Sage Thrasher plus a great look at a gray fox curled up in the branches of a pine tree about 12 feet off the ground at the cemetery in Deming, NM.

Drove through a dust storm near El Paso on our way to spend 3 days at Davis Mountain (pictured at left) State Park. Highlights: Montezuma Quail, nightly visitors to our campsite were 19 Javelinas (pictured left, below) a gray fox and a striped skunk (luckily stink free).

 Drove south to the 800,000 acre Big Bend National Park, staying 2 days at Cottonwood campground.  We spent a day at Santa Elena Canyon with its 1,000 foot walls towering above the Rio Grande.  This Roadrunner posed while warming his back in the morning sun.  After 8 hours of searching, we were rewarded with a life bird - the Nutting's Flycatcher.  On the southeastern edge of Big Bend is the Boquillas Canyon where the sheer canyon walls flanked the Rio Grande resounded with the song of the Canyon Wren and a local Mexican vocalist hoping for a donation.
Following the Rio Grande southeast, we stopped at San Ygnacio bird sanctuary where we encountered the tropical South Texas birds: Chachalacas, Green Jays, and Kiskadees.  A stop at Zapata for the White-collared Seedeaters was successful with 11 birds.  Then to Falcon State Park for a 6 day stay in the desert with a couple trips to Salineno.  We had nightly serenades by the coyotes and Pauraques.  The picture to the right are Kiskadees (up to 35 at once) at the Salineno feeders where we were treated also by the rare Brown Jay, Audubon, Hooded & Altimira Orioles; White-tipped, White-winged, Inca & Com. Ground Doves.  We also spent many hours watching along the Rio Grande where we found another "life bird" - a Red-billed Pigeon.  There was a nice group of people at Falcon that we joined for Pot Luck supper and a music night where Ida joined in with a few songs on the Q-Chord.

Adios amigos from the Rio Grande Valley,   Ty & Ida