Monday, March 31, 2014

Last week at Bentsen Rio Grande State Park

Winding down from a very fast and interesting stay here at Bentsen Rio Grande State Park.  We have really enjoyed the area, the people, and the wildlife.  Birding is becoming more and more an automatic pass time.  "Don't forget the binoculars!"

During our last week, in addition to having the brakes, air conditioner, and defroster repaired on the truck, we ventured off with Peggy on several birding outings.

Peggy was one of our co-hosts during the past three months and she is not only a great photographer, but an excellent birder.  We have learned to identify many birds with Peggy's help.

One of our trips took us close to the Mexican border wall.  It seems to have one piece here, one piece there, some places have roads through them, some are more than a mile inland from the river.  Do not know the official plan or philosophy, but it makes little sense to me.

This piece is not near the river and a road runs through an unmanned gap in the middle.  Border Patrol cars are often seen driving the roads on either side.

Two nights this week we had dinner with some of the Park employees.    On Thursday night Peggy,  Hanna, one of the Park Naturalists, and her husband Eric came for burgers at our site.  They are taking a Texas Master Naturalists class, so Eric comes early that night to eat with Hanna.  We had a fun meal and Hanna brought a "Thank You" cake for desert.  Hanna and Eric are from Oregon and celebrated their first anniversary in January.

 Eric, Hanna, Peggy

Hanna's Thank You cake - delicious!  Thank YOU, Hanna

Friday night we had dinner with Carlos, his girlfriend Bernadette, David, and his wife Celine.  Julie will be very disappointed in me, I did not take any pictures.  Of course, now I am kicking myself. Marlin has worked with these two Rangers and they have become good friends.  It was an enjoyable night for all of us.  David's wife is a Speech Pathologist, and Carlos's girlfriend is an sign language interpreter.  Small world but still, no pictures.

One of our last outings was back to the Valley Nature Center in Westlaco, to see the Yellow Crowned Night Herons again.  This time with the big lens.  Unfortunately, it was a very windy day and we did not get the same opportunities for viewing the birds that we had on our last visit.

 This is the original building for this small but beautiful Nature center.

This is the new building, scheduled to open at the end of the summer.  This magical garden deserves this beautiful new visitors center.

The center grows and sells native plants and encourages people to plant these drought tolerant varieties.

Beautiful, peaceful paths weave in and out of dense natural habitat.

One of the more extravagant water features in the park.  It was dedicated to a past volunteer

Best shots I could make considering the weather, but they are spectacular birds, almost prehistoric looking.

Before I add some of my favorite bird pictures from our stay in the Rio Grande Valley, I want to send a Thank You to Mary again, for the loan of one of her lenses.  I could never have gotten any of the close up shots without this big cannon.

A few of my favorite bird pictures.

A black Phoebe, cousin to our local Phoebe

This Altamira Oriole had a great time jumping in and out of the water trough that feeds a small pool near the visitors center

Chachalacas hanging on the peanut butter feeder.  These comical birds are chicken size and congregate in large numbers.

A Texas Cardinal.  I have been told they are a sub-species of Cardinal because they are a deeper red color.

Great Kiskadee

Altamira Oriole

Golden Fronted Woodpecker

Green Jays

Screech Owl in an Elf Owl nesting box.  I got this shot while I was helping to clean the boxes at the start of the season.

On our last day of work, Marlin and I were both driving the four wheelers and kept passing each other on the Park road.  He was doing a trash pick up, and I was making the rounds at the ten bird feeding stations.  Thought it deserved a picture from one cart to the other.  After work that day we went looking for birds and took a few last minute pictures of spots we have been visiting for three months.

The tram runs through the three plus mile park road every hour.

 This day Carlos was driving.

 We hitched a ride to the Kiskadee blind.

Entrance to the Kiskadee blind.  This blind attracts a great number of birds

From the back side



The water feature and feeding area

Feeding station 7, along the inside loop

The picnic pavilion

Kiosk at the entrance to the hawk tower

Parting shot!

Looking back at our empty site as we drove out of Bentsen Rio Grande State Park for the last time this year.  On to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and good fun with good friends.  Can't wait to see them.


  1. Great pictures! Exceptional color! You'll just have to go back to photo your dinner party guests! AND I see a Dixmont 4-wheeler in your future! To the Smoky mts ...