Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park

We’re into our second week here in South Texas.  We were planning on staying one week but with spring break we were having a hard time finding places to camp. 

Our first week was very nice.  The weather was cool, there wasn’t any smoke from Mexico (they burn sugar cane fields this time of year).  In fact, the citrus trees are blooming and the smell is wonderful!

Turns out we know several couples that are here now and have visited with 4 of them.  Mark has played all three of the disc golf courses in this area and has plans to play them all again.

We’ve hit several of the birding hotspots but have been disappointed in the lack of birds right now.  Most of the ducks have left to migrate north and the warblers and other songbirds have not made it up from South/Central America yet. 

On our way out to Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park we stopped at the Green Jay Disc Golf course for Mark to get in a round.  This course is only a couple of years old and was a new course for Mark. 

There is a lot of water on this course (it was a regular golf course many years ago).  After seeing several birds in the ponds I ran back to the truck to get my binoculars.  It slowed down the disc golf game but it was a very nice morning so taking a little extra time to look at birds was enjoyable.  We saw: Ladder-backed Woodpecker, American Coot, Lincoln Sparrow, Neotropic Cormorant, Snowy Egret, Lesser Grebe, Ruddy Duck, Couch’s Kingbird, Harris’s Hawk, Killdeer, European Starling, Great Blue Heron, Osprey, Lesser Scaup, Pied-billed Grebe, Great Kiskadee, Spotted Sandpiper, Mourning Dove, Brown-headed Cowbird, White-winged Dove, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, and Northern Mockingbird.

Hole # 9.

After a fun 18 holes of disc golf we headed on over to Bentsen.  It is one of the World Birding Centers. 

Most of the birding action was around the feeding stations near the front of the park. We saw a lot of South Texas specialties there.

Plain Chachalaca

Green Jay

Great Kiskadee

The Great Kiskadee is a large, vocal flycatcher whose loud call (KIS-KA-DEE) is heard more often than the bird is seen. They have a yellow crest that can be raised when they are alarmed or territorial. This one showed us a bit of its crest.

Great Kiskadee showing yellow crest

White-tipped Doves are another tropical bird that can be seen in South Texas. They are big and plump, and their call sounds like a person blowing over the top of a Coke bottle. 

White-tipped Dove

Great-tailed Grackles are not limited to South Texas nor are they uncommon, but this one was putting on a show at a water dripper and was worth a couple of pictures!

Great-tailed Grackle

Slinging Some Water!!

We saw:  White-eyed Vireo, Northern Cardinal, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Plain Chachalaca, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Great-tailed Grackle, Mourning Dove, Red-winged Blackbird, Green Jay, Great Kiskadee, white-tipped Dove, Pyrrhuloxia, Turkey Vulture, Eastern Screech Owl, Snowy Egret, Gadwall, American Coot, Mottled Duck, Black Phoebe.  We also saw several Blue Collard Lizards.

After walking around for a couple of hours we hopped on the tram back to the visitor center.

We ended our morning with a wonderful lunch at Willie’s Bar-b-que.

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