Friday, November 18, 2016

Boys Weekend in Texas

Calling this weekend "Boys Weekend" was not my idea. Lori came up with that term because 3 of us decided to go power birding in Rio Grande Valley which meant that the other 3 of us stayed home. Which 3 are in Texas? Me, Lori and Barbara. We wanted to go on a trip to find birds and not worry about eating or sleeping or any other comforts. The goal is to see birds!

So far, success. One day around Brownsville and Barbara has 5 life birds, Lori has 4, and I have 3. I also picked up a bunch of ABA birds too. We started the day at Sabal Palm Sanctuary which is right on the Mexican border.  The property was once a large plantation and now is a wildlife refuge.

Rabb Plantation House - Sabal Palm Sanctuary
Driving in south Texas is like being in a third world country sometimes. Little dirt roads, horses tied up in front yards, goats roaming around. We drove down the road to the park and found a Harris' Hawk sitting on a telephone pole.

Harris' Hawk
Of course, we pulled off the dirt road to take this photo. A few minutes later, a Texas State Trooper pulled up along side of our rental Jeep. "Um, are you ladies bird watching?" asked the 12 year old Trooper (OK, he wasn't really 12 years old but he was really young). We told him that we were looking at a hawk and making our way to the park to which he replied "If you see anyone running, call us" while making the phone call motion with his hands. This is border country for sure.

Don's Fence
Donald Trump sure works fast :-) Kidding. This is the border fence that already exists in this area. The guy at the park office told us that the fence runs along the Rio Grande river levee. The park actually sits between the fence and the Rio Grande river. Here I am pointing to Mexico.

Rio Grande River - Mexico
We saw some great birds at this park including Green Jays. There were many of them but only photographable at the bird feeder.

Green Jay
Here is a close up.

Green Jay
We also saw Buff-bellied Hummingbirds. This is the only one that sat long enough for a photo.

Buff-bellied Hummingbird
We also saw butterflies and a rare snake - the Speckled Racer. Barbara saw a little one slither under some palm fronds and then Lori found a 3 foot one slinking through the butterfly garden. We spent almost 4 hours at this park and then headed north to Laguna Atascosa Wildlife Refuge. Everyone warned us about the pothole riddled road and the hunters but we went anyway. We stopped at a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant for lunch. YUM.

This is where it all went downhill. The lady at the Laguna Atascosa visitor center was really nice but most of the refuge was off limits due to hunting season and road repairs. We wandered around the trails near the main office when all of a sudden, the skies opened up and it poured rain for 45 minutes trapping us under a pavilion.

We drove out of the rain and headed to Port Isabel Road to find very rare Aplomado Falcons. These falcons were virtually extinct from the US until recent efforts by the US wildlife department re-introduced the birds to south Texas. They are slowly making a come back. The nice lady at the Visitor Center showed us where to look for them. We struck out at first, but finally found one bird sitting on the cell phone tower at about 4:15 PM - just as a rainbow appeared. Coincidence? I don't think so . . .

Rainbow Falcon
The falcon is the little dot on the left side of the tower next to the rainbow. Here is a zoomed in shot. Keep in mind that the tower was pretty far away and pretty tall.

Aplomado Falcon
Great way to end Day 1 of Boys Weekend. #boysweekend

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I happen to love your house. If you feel you must spend so much time away from it, I will take it and install team 536, Connie, Peanut and Ollie and you can pitch a tent in the woods to be closer to your beloved birds. MAMA HH HAS SPOKEN!!!