Friday, February 16, 2018

Vegetation along the Rio Grande

The weather finally turned off sunny today after several weeks of clouds and drizzle so I took the opportunity to check out a stand of reddish colored trees upstream from the preserve. A local birder who was familiar with them told me they were Montezuma Cyprus. This is one of the last stand of trees this type and size in Texas!

The early settlers cut most of these type of trees down. These were most likely spared as they are on a steep river bank and would have fallen into the river if cut. The grove has 8 trees that are up to 3 feet in diameter. They are about 30 feet tall with a crown that is about 30 feet across. It was cool and serene beneath these historic giants! As I walked back to the preserve, I spotted a Yucca plant in bloom.

I have been keeping an eye on Yucca plants for several weeks waiting for the blooms to appear. They first send up a long stem that eventually develops these huge rows of white flowers. This is just another wonder of travel that I have the privilege of experiencing!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Estero Llano Grande NWR TX 2/14/2018

Went to another great birding location here in Texas. I submitted my longest ebird list yet, 66 species! I also added 8 life birds to bring my total to 325 with 104 of those being added since I left Eugene, Oregon on October 1, 2017. Here are pics of the hummingbirds. First is a Buff-breasted and the second is a Ruby-throated. It is a female so no color is showing on the throat.

To see the complete list of birds and a few more pics, click here: Estero Llano Grande ebird list

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Salineno TX 2/13/2018

Haven't been able to blog much as I have very limited connectivity. Tomorrow I am going to an NWR south of here and should get a number of life birds. I am at 96 new species this trip and am hoping to pass 100. There are a number of very colorful birds here in birds here in Texas. Below are pics of some of them. The first is the Altamira Oriole and the second is the Audubon Oriole.

Below we have the Great Kiskadee, the Green Jay and the male Golden-fronted Woodpecker.

And for those that like our furry friends, here is a Fox Squirrel!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Texas along the Rio Grande

I had to go into the nearby town of Roma for groceries and gas this week where I learned it would be a good idea to brush up on my Spanish!

All my previous trips to Texas were work related and were to large population centers away from the Mexican border. My experiences there did not give me a true taste of Texas culture which may be why I was surprised by the number of Spanish speaking people here. As I later reflected on my shopping experience, I remembered that this area was part of Mexico for thousands of years and has only been part of the US for less than two hundred years. This is history that was taught in school but I had not grasped the reality of it until now. People here are living on land that has been in their family or hundreds of years! It is only reasonable to expect a large portion of the local population to speak Spanish. Also a number of Mexican people commute across the river to work here in Texas. Travel is a great teacher and I have learned much about geography, geology, history and culture across our country. I look forward to further lessons!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Salineno TX 2/4/2018

Been busy with the volunteer job. Chatting with visitors and helping them spot and ID birds. Besides having birds here, there are also Texas Indigo snakes!

Indigo snakes are the largest native North American snake. This one was about 5 or 6 ft long. That is about average for this area. They can get over 8 ft long. I kept a good distance even though they are not poisonous. I have been catching bass in the Rio Grande in the evening. Last night I caught a Bluegill along with 2 bass. I can see catfish swimming around and will probably try for one of those in a couple days. I have no cell phone reception but the other hosts have a satelite dish and let me connect thru it to the internet. I am still adding life birds to my list and have added 94 species on this trip. I am sure I will pass 100 before heading home!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Salineno WP TX 2/1/2018

All set up at Salineno. The Rio Grande river is only a couple hundred feet behind my campsite. Just beyond those trees and bushes.

I added 3 new life birds today. A Hooded Oriole.This is a juvenile and wont acquire the black hood for another year.

A Clay-colored Thrush:

And lastly a Zone-tailed Hawk. The picture is not great quality and it was a long way off.

Besides birding, I hope to do some fishing! I purchased a Non-resident fishing license to be a legal fisherman. There are a lot of law enforcement agents along the border!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Santa Ana NWR TX 1/30/2018

I had to go to the Santa Ana NWR this morning to sign Volunteer Agreement forms and pick up a vest. While waiting for my Supervisor I decided to join a birding tour that was just heading out. The guides were very informative and personable. I saw 6 new life birds. Several of which I would not have been able to ID if it were not for the guides help. One was this Rose-throated Becard.

Another was this Common Pauraque.

If you cant see it, don't feel bad. I could only see it with my binoculars and it was less than 10 feet away! It is a relative of the Night Hawk or Whippoorwill. I would have seen 3 more life birds but I had to take a break and go sign those papers. When I got back they showed me the list of what I missed! If you are a birder and ever get a chance to take this tour, DO NOT PASS IT UP! It is a 2 hour drive from here but I will be going back for another tour! I did not get many more pics but if you want to see them and a list of all the birds identified on this tour, clcik here:  Santa Ana NWR bird list for 1/30/2018

Vegetation along the Rio Grande

The weather finally turned off sunny today after several weeks of clouds and drizzle so I took the opportunity to check out a stand of reddi...