Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Week one at The World Birding Center

The first week here has gone by very quickly.  Julie asked for some shots of our set up here at Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park in order to have a feeling of where we were located.

 The walkway along the administration building that leads to our site

 Entrance to the gift shop and visitors center

 To the left side of our site we look toward the employee parking and the Rio Grande flood levee.

 The walkway from the back of the Administration building to our site

 From the right side we look at the two other volunteer pads.  On Saturday a couple from Houston, Fred and Charlotte, joined us as volunteers. They seem like a fun loving pair that will be interesting to work with.

 The Nature Center is a short walk over the levee and through the self pay gate

 Front of the Nature Center

 Viewing area at the Nature Center.  There are feeding stations on both sides of the road here.

Our four days of "work" has consisted of attending the park's weekly bird and nature walks, participating in the Christmas Bird count on January 3. learning how to maintain the humming bird feeders, and preparing the peanut butter/suet mix that is used at the 8 feeding stations throughout the park.  That "heavy work load" earned us four days off, which we used to go to two other World Birding Center sites and an abbreviated peak at South Padre Island.

The World Birding Center is a network of nine sites dotted along 120 miles of the Rio Grande River, from South Padre Island west to the city of Roma. Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park is the headquarters of this "WBC", which began in 2004, with the mission to protect native habitat as well as increasing the understanding and appreciation of the birds and wildlife. Over 10,000 acres have become available for prime viewing here along the central flyway for migrating birds.  The natural vegetation along the river had been completely cleared for agriculture.  Establishment of the WBC has reestablished most of this habitat for wildlife.

On the January 3, for the Christmas Bird count, we were out at 7:00 AM.  It was cold but we had a beautiful sunrise over the resaca.  Resaca is a new word for us.  It is simply an oxbow lake which was formed when the river changed course and left some sections closed off from the new flow. 

 The resaca at Bentsen

 Our group consisted of 6 people.  There were a total of 50 volunteers involved with the count in a 15 mile radius that the Bentsen staff organized.  We counted until 1:00, then gathered for a pot luck dinner that night with all 50 participants from this area.   The statistics for the number and names of species counted that day were reviewed after dinner. The avid birders were happy with the the results but I neglected to write them down for my own information.

 Melissa and Roy staff organizers

The Pot luck dinner was excellent.  Lots of new people to get to know.

Resaca de la Palma is another World Birding Center (WBC) we visited on our day off.  We took a quick tram ride around the main road, leaving the extensive hiking/biking trails for another day.

 Visitors Center

The bird feeding station at the visitors center consisted of a very unique blind.  These tree branches were sunk into the ground to form a screen to view the birds.

 A short nature walk at the Visitors center took us through a beautiful stand of Texas Ebony trees.  This tree only grows in the area near the Rio Grande river.

Two different sections of the resaca as seen from the tram

Some of the acreage here is savannah.  Good place to watch for hawks.

After our abbreviated visit at Resaca de la Palma we drove on to South Padre Island and visited the Chamber of Commerace information building to gather information for a longer stay here.  The parking lot held a magical sand castle done during their annual sand castle building contest.

Monday the 6th, Kathy Whittier, a part time volunteer at the park, took us to Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.  Although the temp was only 40 degrees, the wind and dampness made it feel as cold as zero at home.  Lots of birds new to Marlin and I were seen here.  I think we are getting the fever.  When we got back home we started our life list!  Fun day despite the weather.

 Great observation towers, especially the walk way between the two

 Going up!

 Not to shaky

 The hawk tower next door is even taller, (and windier)

 Our new friend Kathy Whittier.
The view and road behind Marlin is in Mexico.


  1. Two new things! Resaca and shorts!! Good pics, Jude. Hugs! Julie

  2. Love the new setup of your blog! Ruthie