We are truly lucky to have more than one major wildlife refuge within an hour's drive or less of our RV park here in Harlingen, TX. One of these, the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, is one of the largest protected refuges at 98,000+ acres in the wildlife refuge system. Nearly HALF of all the bird species in the continental U.S. fly through, nest, rest, or feed in this refuge. WOW!
It is one of the premier bird watching areas in the U.S. There are more recorded species of birds here than any other refuge in the National Wildlife system. There are OCELOTS here...only about 50 of them remain in this area, and they call Laguna Atacosa home. We saw the sign coming in, but they are VERY elusive...we didn't see any while we were visiting.
|from the internet
Ocelots are a cat species--bigger than a house cat but smaller than a bobcat. They have spots like a leopard, with a long ringed tail which is about 1/3 as long as their bodies, and they have rounded ears. They are unique in that they can turn their ankle joints around, which enables them to climb DOWN a tree, unlike other cat species whose non-retractible claws make it difficult for them to get down once they are up. Ocelots are good swimmers. They need a LOT of space--males need to roam about 25 miles, and females need about 9 miles.
Everything was closed and the roads around the refuge were confusing with very little signage. So we paid a quick visit today as it was later in the afternoon and decided to return on another day to try and figure out the refuge better. Sparky got a couple of quick bird photos at the visitor's center. Those green jays have amazing coloring, don't they? There's that chachalaca bird again......
And on the way out, a pair of crested caracaras in a field, kind of far away, but they certainly are cool looking birds as well.
If anybody had told Sparky five years ago, she would get excited about seeing and photographing birds, she would have said, "Nah, not me!" But here she is, contemplating a better camera and longer lens so she can take better bird photos. (Uh-oh! WHA-A-A-T????? You mean those expensive long zoom lenses and camera body for a DSLR camera? asks a worried Eldo.) He's worried about Sparky blowing her budget. No worries, she's just looking....(He's still worried...)
To change the subject...here's a pretty female cardinal...Sparky always thought the females were so drab, but they really are not!Another fabulous wildlife refuge and birding center is just a short hour's drive or less on South Padre Island. That's our next stop...C'mon back and see some great spoonbills in the next few days.... Bye for now!