Friday, March 26, 2010

Texas Day 4: Bentsen SP and Anzalduas County Park

Our day started off early as we planned to get to Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park early and listen for the Elf Owl that had been reported near the visitor center. We were quite disappointed when we walked outside and it was cold, windy, and rainy. We headed to the park anyway, but the rain keep coming. We had to resort to birding from anywhere that provided some shelter. For the first hour we stayed near the visitor center and saw very few birds. The tram that takes you around the park started running shortly thereafter, and we decided to brave the rain and head out into the park. We got off the tram at Kingfisher Overlook and hiked off into the rain. As soon as we got to the overlook, a Ringed Kingfisher flew by giving us great looks at this life bird for both Eric and myself. Now we had 30 minutes to wait for the next tram, and it was still raining as hard as ever. Luckily, there was a covered picnic shelter where we took refuge from the weather and watched some Green Jays.

As we were taking the tram back to the visitor center, I realized that I had a rain jacket in the car that I had packed and completely forgot about. I am sure that I would have been much more comfortable had I remembered this at the start of the day, but at least I had a chance to grab it before we headed back into the park. Since we were all freezing, we got some hot chocolate at the cafe in the visitor's center and sat inside for the next 30 minutes to warm up. Feeling rejuvenated after our break and since the rain had slowed to barely a trickle, we decided to go back out into the park.

We again got off the tram at Kingfisher Overlook but this time we hiked Kiskadee Trail. After a short hike, we came to a blind that had tons of feeders, so we decided to sit there and see what might turn up. There were plenty of Rio Grande specialties and I was able to photograph Plain Chachalaca and White-tipped Dove.

White-tipped Dove

Plain Chachalaca

Plain Chachalaca

Our next stop was the hawk watch tower. While there were few hawks, there were tons of Turkey and Black Vultures that made it a very impressive stop. At this point we decided to break and have lunch and then come back later in the day. After lunch, we headed to Anzalduas County Park. It is an interesting little park situated right on the banks of the Rio Grande. We found my lifer Black Phoebe and a Rock Wren, which is somewhat unusual in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. We headed back to Bentsen but the tram was no longer running so we had to hike into the park. This turned out to be a very good thing, as one of the birds that we found was a Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, one of the target species of our trip and a lifer for me! Shortly after this sighting, we had our most exciting mammal encounter of the trip when a Bobcat walked down the trail in front of us!


We didn't add any more species on our hike back to the car, but it was a great day in spite of the rain.

This afternoon Eric and I will be leaving for Illinois where I will be leading a group of Indiana Audubon Society members on a trip to see Greater Prairie-Chickens. This will be a life bird for both of us and hopefully we will find some other interesting birds along the way. Look for a post and some pictures from the trip later this weekend!



Johnny Nutcase said...

My husband and I love Bentsen SP! There are so many great parks in the area. Lucky you saw the bobcat, very cool! Nice photos!

Anonymous said...

Noah & I went to Bentsen last March - what an awesome park! We rented bikes. It was a scorching hot day - like 100 degrees. Such a fun time, though. That is so cool you saw a Bobcat! And all those amazing birds!

Amy Kearns