Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mission, TX - 2013

I have now been in Mission, TX for a month.  While here I have been walking, biking, bird watching and a quite a bit of just relaxing!  Once again I am staying at Bentsen Palm Village RV park, which is next door to the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley location of the World Birding Center (link to World Birding Center).  It’s a great place to bird watch and bike.  For some reason there are not as many birds as in the past, but I still enjoy looking.  Even at their common birds -

The above is a Green Jay.  The only place to see this Jay in the United States is Southern Texas.  Below is a Great Kiskadee.  These 2 birds are fairly common in the Birding Center next door and even in the RV Park.

Another bird I see fairly regularly is the Altamira Oriole.  They enjoy feeding on the oranges and grapefruits that the Birding Center puts out for the birds.  I watched the one below attempt to eat from this orange and the orange started spinning.  So the Oriole took his foot and held the orange still.  In watching birds, I often think about the phrase “Bird Brain” and wonder who made that up.  From what I have seen birds are pretty smart.

I was also fortunate to see a Black-headed Grosbeak.  It appears that he had been eating some type of berry just before I took the picture.

Below is a Cooper’s Hawk that occasionally visits the areas where there are bird feeders so that the can find a meal.  Unfortunately for the birds, he is not eating the food in the feeders, but birds that have come to the feeders for food. 

An Eastern Screech Owl has made a home in a tree on a very popular trail.  He doesn’t seem to like crowds but since I am typically alone, I see him/her a lot.  He has a natural camouflage in this tree.

When I am by myself and I leave, the owl turns his head and watches me.  At first I thought I was imagining it, but after it happened several times I realized he was really doing it.  Below is a picture of him making sure that I am leaving!

Above is a picture of some neighbors (they are in an RV a few sites down from me) taking a picture of a Road Runner.  I have not been able to get a decent picture of a Road Runner yet since I  typically scare them off as I am biking. One of my goals over the next few weeks is to get a good picture of one. 

I have also visited some of the other locations of the World Birding Center.   I have been to Estero LLano Grande Park a few times.  I went on their bird walk twice.   While there I saw the Common Pauraque.   Even though the name says Common, the only place they are found in the U.S. is very Southern Texas.  This bird has some of the best natural camouflage that I have ever seen.  Even knowing there is a bird in the picture below, it’s hard to see him.

A close up --

On one of the Bird Walks a Green Kingfisher followed our group for a while. 

While the pictures below are not good, I enjoyed watching this Yellow-crowned Night Heron eat a Crayfish. 

Just before the bird walk began, a Yellow-headed Blackbird flew up.  I had never seen one before and was excited to see one even though he was quite a distance away.

For those of you who follow Jim and Gayle’s blog, some of the above may seem very familiar.  They are currently here also.   They and another Lazy Daze Friend, Debbie, are work campers here at Bentsen.  They spend a good bit of their time working with all the activities that the park has.   Actually it was in their blog that I was reminded that I wanted to find the Green Parakeets.  These are not native to North America, but have established feral populations in parts of Southern Texas and Florida.   I went to the local K-mart where they birds had been coming in to roost at dusk.  I waited and waited -

and was about to leave, when I saw a few parakeets.  Then I saw and heard lots of parakeets.  They are loud!!

There are also some Red-crowned Parrots that I am hoping to find in the next several weeks. 

I finally decided that when I leave here, I will head to Utah.   I have been to some of the National Parks in Utah many years ago, but would like to see them again.  Also, there is much more to Utah to see, so I will probably spend 2 or 3 months there.  If anyone has any suggestions of things to do while there let me know.  I am starting to make plans now.  I leave Mission on March 18 and will give myself a week or 2 to get to Utah. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

GA for Christmas and the trip to South Texas

I went back to the North Georgia mountains for Christmas.  On the way North from Sanibel Island, I stayed overnight at Twin Oaks RV Park in Elko, GA.  It’s a Passport America park, so I get 50% off!  They had a Christmas decoration across from the park office.

Perfect for an RV park.

My nephew, his wife and new baby boy (Jackson) came down and visited one day.  My mom’s dog didn’t seem to understand this person who was her size.

I stayed at a campground in Dillard, GA about a week and then I took off for Mission, TX.  I gave myself a little more than 2 weeks to get there, so I stopped a few places on the way.  My first stop was Foley, AL.  From there, I visited Gulf Island National Seashore (in Florida).  I wanted to check it out and see if it is a place I would like to visit later.  I liked it, but don’t know that I would want to camp there.

It was fairly cold and windy the day I was there, but I still enjoyed a walk on the beach.  I also did a short hike in a wooded section of the park.   Another day, I went to Gulf Shores, AL and walked the beach. 

From Foley, I headed to Sulphur, LA.  I have stopped here a couple of times before.  I like it because it is close to the Creole Nature Scenic Drive.  While there I went to Sabine  and Lacassine National Wildlife Refuges. 

I saw this Great Egret who had just caught lunch.

The above is a Scaup, I’m not sure if it is a Greater Scaup or a Lesser Scaup. 

After Sulphur, I went to Beaumont, Texas.  Since I am a Texas resident and had not been to Texas in 2 years, I had to get both my car and RV inspected.  It was much easier this time as I found an inspection place at a quick oil change station that could inspect both.  When I was here 2 years ago I had problems finding a place that could and would inspect the RV.  (long story, and I don’t want to bore you).

While in Beaumont, I went to Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge.   One of the first birds I saw was a Vermillion Flycatcher.

I also saw a few Snow Geese--

After leaving Beaumont, I stopped in Victoria, TX for an overnight stop and then finally got to Mission, TX where I will be for 2 months.  I blog about my first few weeks in a few days.