Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Resaca de la Palma State Park,

This is the third time working at Resaca de la Palma State Park and we thoroughly enjoy all the staff here.  Albert Martinez, Lead Ranger, met us at the door when we arrived for work on Wednesday.  Our new co-worker, Tom, came in with us.

That first day, Cynthia, our front desk Ranger, brought lunch of tamales and refried beans for everyone.  Did I mention that part of the attraction for volunteering here, is food.

Ranger Cynthia, (left) and Dr. Melissa Jones, staff biologist, organizing the group lunch.

Pablo, the Park Superintendent, Marlin and volunteer Kieth, finishing up their healthy portions.

We did fit in a bit of orientation that day.  Scouted some of the Rio Grande Valley specialty birds.  Lots of re-learning to identify the species since we missed last year. There are 20 species of birds here in this area that do not travel much further north than along the Rio Grande River.  That is why birders from all over the Country come here in order see them and add them to their life lists.

First stop was the rebuilt observation deck at the Kiskadee trail.  This is a short trail off the main loop road that overlooks the Resaca and generally is a good spot for water birds and flycatchers.

The word Resaca was derived from the Spanish resaca, which means "to retake".  Before dams at Falcon and Amistad were built, the Rio Grande river was free and would periodically flood all the adjacent land. This created many deep channels in the silt that lined the river. Since flood control drastically reduces flooding, these channels, or resacas, have been permanently cut off from the main river.  Today they are used for irrigation, landscaping or maintained for wildlife habitat.  This State Park purchases water from the local water district to duplicate the traditional natural habitat.

Thursday our lunch included Cynthia's delicious shrimp recipe, with garlic, chili's, tomatoes, garlic, and cilantro. I made a tray of jalapeno poppers, which were gone in a flash.

Cynthia, Lauren, and Melissa gave them a thumbs up.  (Lauren stuck to her salad)  It is going to be a fun winter.  I think I will need to buy new pants, one size larger.

Resaca de la Palma is part of the nine World Birding Centers located along the southern end of the Rio Grande River.  Publicizing the unique birds and wild life, as well as encouraging habitat conservation, each of these birding centers have their individual character.  We always try to visit all of them while we are in this area.

One of the centers, Quinta Mazatlan,  hosts a lecture series every Thursday night.   We try to make as many of the talks as we can.  This past week we met Terry and Ken Smelcer, friends we met in Austin a number of years ago.  This birding center is known for its extensive gardens with bronze wildlife statues scattered throughout the grounds.

Ken and Terry Smelcer

Great first week.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Boston to Austin

In spite of the major storm hitting Maine on January 4, we managed to have a very uneventful flight from Boston to Austin on January 5.  With all the hype about the coming storm, on Tuesday we shuffled some of our plans and went to Jed's on Wednesday night. Kennebunk is closer to Boston.
The plumber was glad to switch his schedule also.  He came to drain our pipes before the storm dumped enough snow to require plowing the driveway.

Friday morning we headed for the airport around 8 AM, expecting tons of traffic and an airport overflowing with travelers who had missed their flight Thursday.  Not so, light traffic and a surprisingly light crowd at TSA and airline waiting areas.

We arrived in Austin, TX around 4:30, took a shuttle to LaQuinta for the night.  Nice, large, comfortable room.  This hotel has just been remodeled.  Colors are all gray and purple, which it appears, are big right now.

The next morning we used Uber again to travel out to where our truck and camper have been stored since October.  Like this new type of taxi service.  Using the phone app, you just put in where you want to go and up comes the icon showing where the driver is located and how long you have to wait.  Both times it has been 10 minutes or less.

When we got to the storage location, all was well with our equipment.  Truck started right up, all systems working in the camper, so off we went.

It is about a 5 or 6 hour drive south, from Austin to Brownsville, where we have  signed on as volunteers at Resaca de la Palma State Park.  Since we left Austin around 11:00, we stopped around 4:00 and spent a night at Lake Corpus Christi State Park.   Great park with lots of fishing opportunities, judging from the dozens of boats coming in and out of the parking lot.

We had a scenic sight overlooking a large meadow.  At dusk we began to see movement in the grass.

At first, only their backs were visible,  but soon it was apparent that they were used to people being close to where they were feeding.


and closer, till someone's cat ran into the field and chased them away.

The next day we traveled on to Brownsville, and arrived at the Park.  It was late Sunday afternoon, so we checked in with the staff and spent the rest of the day setting up and checking out our favorite spots and trails.

Space enough for two tables.  Planning on having lots of company.

 I found this great plant hanger and made it into the perfect bird feeder station.  Ready for visitors.