Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Rio Grande Valley TX

March 19 – 28, 2012

I have spent the last ten days in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. Texas really promotes the fact that you can see bird species here that you can find nowhere else in the US. The Texas visitor centers and state and local parks have maps to all the great birding spots and they tell you what you should expect to find at each place. There are birders from all over the world that flock to this part of Texas in the winter and spring each year. I have met some really nice people out there on the birding trails. Tomorrow I will be moving over to a different part of Texas, but only 80 miles from here. It’s closer to the gulf coast and I expect to find more migrating birds there. For now here’s an example of what I found in the area.

Fulvous Whistling Duck
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Plain Chachalaka
Least Grebe
Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Buff-bellied Hummingbird

Monday, March 19, 2012

Falcon State Park and Salineno TX

March 16 – 18, 2012

Linda and Carole have gone on to San Antonio. I drove down to Falcon State Park. So far I have found the Texas State Parks to be great during the week and a real zoo on the weekends. It seems so many young people come to the parks to party rather than enjoy nature. I shouldn’t complain. I was young once and did the same thing. But I’m old now, and I want my peace and quiet.
Anyway – while I was staying at the park I also visited a bird sanctuary in the tiny town of Salineno. These are the directions I was given. You drive through the little town and watch out for the speed bumps. The pavement ends at the Catholic Church parking lot. Continue on the VERY narrow and not well maintained dirt road until you come to the Rio Grande River. Just before the river the sanctuary will be on your left.
Well I found it and the caretakers were down at the river looking for birds. The border patrol came by in their extremely loud airboats and scared all the birds away from the river. I hope they are not planning on sneaking up on anyone. Those are the loudest boats I’ve ever heard. They are propelled by a GIANT fan. The poor guys will probably be deaf before their 30th birthday. I could have thrown a rock across the river into Mexico. I followed the caretakers up to the sanctuary and oh my, what a great place with some incredible birds. If you check your birding books, you will see that most of these birds can only be found in the United States in a very small area at the Southern tip of Texas.

Altamira Oriole

Audubon's Oriole

Brown Jay

Great Kiskadee

Green Jay (I call this the Groucho Marx bird)

Green Jay (Photograph This)

Chipping Sparrow

Olive Sparrow

Inca Dove

Red-winged Blackbird

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Seminole State Park and Langtry TX

March 12 – 13, 2012
After hesitantly leaving Big Bend I stopped by Langtry TX on my way to Seminole Canyon State Park and Historic Site. Langtry is the town named by and run by judge Roy Bean. If you remember your history judge Roy had a powerful crush on Lilly Langtry. They have a great Texas visitor information center and native plant gardens as well as the old buildings from Roy Bean’s era, including the Jersey Lilly saloon. For more info visit

The Jersey Lilly Saloon Langtry TX

Interior of the Jersey Lilly Saloon

 Yucca just beginning to bloom

Yucca in full bloom

Cactus in bloom

Then it was on to Seminole Canyon State Park to meet Linda and Carole. Tuesday was a cloudy, drizzly day so we spent a lot of time in the visitor center. This is an area of Texas where many pictographs from early cave dwellers have been found. There is also fossil evidence of Wooly Mammoths and other prehistoric wildlife and vegetation. The visitor center takes you from the prehistory days to modern times in this area of Texas. The displays are well done and the park offers guided tours down into the canyon to view the pictographs and fossils.  They suggest you are in good physical condition to take the tour. I photographed the replicas of the pictographs in the visitor center.

View of Seminole Canyon from the Visitor Center including Clouds and Drizzle

Cave in Seminole Canyon on a cloudy, drizzly day.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park TX

March 5 – 12, 2012

I left the beautiful Davis Mountains today and moved on to Big Bend National Park in Texas. WOW, WOW, WOW. This place is sooooo very big. The mountains are gorgeous.
Here are a few stats about Big Bend National Park:
It covers over 801,000 acres – more land area than the state of Rhode Island – and averages 350,000 or fewer visitors per year.
Big Bend was established in 1944. In 1976 it was designated an International Biosphere Preserve.
Did I mention it’s BIG?
Unfortunately we were there during spring break so I think most of the 350,000 visitors were there during our stay.
I tried to capture some images that would give a feeling of just how huge the park is, but I think it’s just one of those things you must experience in person to “get it”.
For more information about Big Bend National Park visit

I also saw my first Golden-fronted Woodpecker.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

View From Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

"The Window" View from the Chisos Mountains Lodge

Santa Elena Canyon Cut by the Rio Grande

View From Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

Nugent Mountain

Part of Nugent Mountain
Mule Ears

Linda, Carole, and I took a guided jeep drive through part of Big Bend Ranch State Park. We left the jeep and ventured into Closed Canyon with our guide. I had to scoot down some rocks on my rear end, but I made it down and back. The tour was out of the town of Terlingua, TX. There is an old ghost town there. People have moved back into some of the old buildings. Most of the buildings are still not inhabitable. There is an old cemetery and a Catholic Church that are still used today.

Linda, Carole, and Guide entering Closed Canyon

River Road through Big Bend Ranch State Park TX

Catholic Church in Terlingua Ghost Town

Cemetery in Terlingua Ghost Town

Davis Mountain Birds and McDonald Observatory

March 3 – 5, 2012

Drove to Davis Mountain State Park TX today. Texas back roads are sure scenic, but I can’t help but wonder where these people grocery shop. I’m seeing nothing but cows and sheep for 40+ miles. While at Davis Mountain we visited the McDonald observatory
The observatory has ongoing programs for visitors and a nice gift shop. I was excited to see my first Montezuma Quail and Black-crested Titmouse at the campground.

Male Montezuma Quail

Female Montezuma Quail

Black-crested Titmouse

Canyon Towhee

Friday, March 2, 2012

Birds In A Windy Cactus Garden

March 2, 2012 Fri

I wonder if the Southwest desert wind has ever caused anyone to go completely insane. I’m just say’n……. ENOUGH IS TOO MUCH.
The trailer has been rocking all day. I just stayed inside and caught up on computer work. At least I could get online. I think the next stop will be a no cell or internet spot.
I’ve spent two days at Poncho Villa state park in NM. It is in the town of Columbus. It’s like camping in a cactus garden. The grounds are very well maintained. Besides the wind it’s been a pleasant stay. I had the pleasure of visiting with friends Carole and Linda. I'll join up with them again in Texas. Here’s a website that explains how historically important this town is.

And of course I found a few birds to photograph.

Cactus Wren - OUCH!!!

Lark Bunting - How do they perch like that?

White-winged Dove in the wind

Black-throated Sparrow