Friday, March 26, 2021
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
|Little Green Heron just watching the world go by|
|Golden Front Woodpecker, a frequent visitor|
At first it was a very dreary and gray area after being hit hard by the frost. But then....spring started its wonderful greening up of the area, and the park became more and more beautiful each day. Sparky watched this Century Agave plant for weeks, as the asparagus looking bloom stalk grew and grew. It's now about 13 feet high! Sparky was hoping to see it bloom, but nope. It's not called the century agave for nothing. Not a hundred years to bloom, but about every 15-20 years it blooms, and it takes its sweet time to do it. Probably will be another month or two before it does bloom. When it does, it could have red blossoms or not, and will look like a little mini forest is perched at the top of the plant.
|Buff Bellied Hummingbird|
|Altamira Oriole duo|
|Screech Owl in a Box|
Many volunteers work hard to keep the park orderly, trimming bushes and trees, and watering the many memory gardens people have established in memory of their loved ones.
|Black Crested Titmouse|
We visited several World Birding sites in the area. Harlingen and the surrounding counties and nearby cities are LOADED with places to go see birds. Sparky's favorite state park was the Estero Llano Grande State Park, on of the world birding centers, about a 40 minute drive from the RV park. Here is where she learned of the Pauraque bird, a species of a bird called the nightjars. It's a bird that forages at dusk and at night for insects on the ground. It rests on the ground as well, and it one of THE most camouflaged birds in the wild. Can you see it?
The eyes are down towards the bottom left of the photo, and the tail is pointing to the upper right corner, and the face looks owlish. Here his eyes are just about shut. It took quite awhile for Sparky to pick him out of the leaf debris.
|Northern Shoveler Duck-male|
Sparky saw northern shoveler ducks, spoonbills, a variety of other ducks, pied-bill grebes (not a duck) and more at this park....Wait for it...Sparky was out walking the trails and here comes a BOBCAT just out for a stroll!!!!.....It was LESS THAN 50 yards away....he looked at me and looked away. Sparky took a photo. He looked at me again and looked away. Sparky took several photos. Bobcats don't like to mess with humans, so Sparky wasn't worried. He also looked well fed on the natural wildlife found in the park, so Sparky really wasn't worried. (Hmmm, but the photos are a little blurry. Maybe Sparky was just a tad bit nervous? says E.) Nah, just excited. He was so cool! He was BIGGER than the bobcats we have seen in Florida, and had really cool patterning to his fur.
|at the marsh viewing area-blue wing teal ducks?|
Ok, enough of all the birds and wildlife. We are going to leave you with a few recommendations for eating in the area. The whole time we were here, the area restaurants were extremely careful and great about spacing and sanitizing. Even with the Texas governor lifting the mask restrictions, EVERYBODY down here in southeastern Texas in Cameron county continued to wear masks indoors and out. It was pretty amazing how thoughtful and careful everybody continues to be with the virus still out there and circulating...SO---we did try a few restaurants in the area and thought these were great...By the way, there are a bazillion Mexican restaurants here in Harlingen, we happened to find a good one right off the get-go, so we stuck with that one! We are sure there are quite a few more....
Lonnie's Down Home Cooking in Harlingen--nice, basic, very reasonably priced breakfasts, great pancakes...
Russo's New York Pizzaria in Harlingen...OMG...the best pizza ever, (says both Sparky and Eldo) fantastic free appetizer of bread/pizza crust pieces with olive oil dipping sauce while you wait....
Tejano Grill in Harlingen--AMAZING onion ring tower, fabulous Mexican street tacos, and the best melt-in-your-mouth brisket ever, says Eldy. Tejano is Spanish for a Mexican-American inhabitant who lives in southern Texas, just in case you were interested.
We are ready to leave this VERY windy and getting hotter by the day area of Texas. Time to head north in a couple of days, back towards Houston for a few days, then on to Kentucky......Sparky's focus will shift from birds to something else--(Food, probably, laughs Eldo.) OR, maybe learning Spanish or making some more crafts, who knows? At any rate, hope you enjoyed traveling with us in the Rio Grande Valley area and seeing birds up close and personal. Bye for now!
Monday, March 15, 2021
The drive is about 29 minutes from the park, and is in the same direction as if you were going to the International Bridge to cross the border into Mexico. Take Exit 160 from I-2/US83 W and then 3.2 miles on the International Blvd. till you see the state park entrance sign on the left. This is one of the most beautiful Texas state parks we have seen so far. (Well, to be fair, we have only visited one other one so far, and it was not very pretty and all closed up...Bentsen Palms State Park.) We picked a cloudy day to go today, but we will definitely go back again another day when the weather is prettier. It actually was misting rain, the first time we have seen any precipitation for weeks!
You walk down the pathway to the visitor's center and voila....a great big observation deck overlooking a very large marshy area...There are also shallow lakes and a thorn forest, so different types of habitats.
A beautiful boardwalk goes all around the marsh, and there are trails like spider web lines off the main boardwalk. They are short little trails for the most part, some you can ride a bike on, and others you cannot. The main loop around the park is 1.2 miles.
|two blue wing teals and a stilt-J. Sparks|
They have a beautiful bird blind where you can sit and see lots of birds come to the feeders. We saw hummers, green jays, a grosbeak, and there was a sighting of a rare bird visitor to the area, a trogon, but we didn't see it.
|internet photo of trogon|
|black crested titmouse-internet|
We could have sat at the visitors' center for hours, but Sparky gets antsy and has to move around. (And she has a very short attention span, too, explains El.) So we went walking along some of the paths in a light rain. This area below doesn't look like much, but it's a bird paradise and where we saw three different hummers, a black crested titmouse, green jays, and a golden front woodpecker.
There are totem poles at the park, too. We couldn't find any information about them and saw at least two of them. That will have to be for another day of exploration. We will definitely return to this park, it is AMAZING! See you later!
Friday, March 12, 2021
One thing very nice about this park is there are many MANY signs labeling the native bushes and shrubs, telling you what things are. They just don't look like much at the moment because they are trying to grow! These flowers on the left are wild growing flowers in a field of grasses...sharp thorny leaves but beautiful blooms. I'll bet this place really comes to life after a rain. They have only had about 1.5" of rain since September, so things are extremely dry in the park.