Monday, March 15, 2021

Visiting Estero Llano Grande State Park

Hooded oriole-J.Sparks
We are fortunate in that there are quite a few birding centers within an hour's drive or less of our RV park, Sunshine RV Resort in Harlingen, TX. Today we decided to visit Estero Llano Grande State Park, a world birding center. It's a 230 acre wetlands space with endangered and unusual coastal species of birds, they say. Heck, the entire Rio Grande Valley border area might as well be designated a world birding center, there are so many beautiful birds here and places to see them!
Great Kiskadee-J.Sparks

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.

Northern shoveler-J.Sparks
There were all kinds of ducks, blue wing teals and northern shoveler ducks, long legged stilts, egrets, spoonbills, common moorehens and more. 

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!
Ruby throat Hummingbird-J.Sparks