Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley

This morning before work Katie and Maren Phillips took me to Bentsen- Rio Grande Valley State Park. It was pretty much sensory overload for me because life birds were literally dripping off of the trees. Birds that I had seen in field guides with outlandish names were all over. I finally got to see in person things like a plain chachalaca and a great kiskadee. Of course green jays (above) were everywhere, apparently they are "trash birds" down here - nickname for birds we see in our own yards all the time like grackles and cowbirds.

Okay, for all you people who think squirrels are a pain at the feeder, imagine having javelinas (right) show up? These wild pigs were all over the place. We watched a line of ten cautiously leave the woods and walk across the road in a very orderly fashion.

I just love being in another state, it was so weird to be in Minnesota yesterday with our 29 degree windchill and to be sweating it up in Texas the next day. There was a nice spicy desert smell in the air too. We ran into one of the festival tour groups down while birding. The trip was being led by Bill Thompson and Minnesota's own Kim Eckert. Thanks to both I got an unbelievably good look at an olive sparrow. This is typically a bird you hear more than see and here we were on this great look out tower watching the greenish brown bird sing on branches and scurry around in the grass looking for food. Yes, Non Birding Bill, I was watching a brown bird and loving every minute of it.

Tonight's festivities were low key. We found a karaoke bar, but they were completely filled up so we had to head down the street for some quiet evening chat at Chuck's Ice House--no singing. Even though we didn't sing, I still had a great time and a totally weird coincidence. I met a guy who is also going on the ivory-bill search, but is also going at the same time and is on the same team. He seems like a nice guy so I'm relieved to know that there will be at least one sane person down there. Part of me worries that with all those people staying in a small research station it might become like an Animal Planet version of the Real World tv show.