Can't Stop Blogging About The Rio Grande Valley!

Can you believe I still have blogging to do about Texas?? It really is one of my favorite birding trips I do all year. I love the organizers, the birds, the food, the temperature--it's tops. Check out this altamira oriole that was just cleaning itself off after using a bird bath at Laguna Atascosa NWR.

I think I have finally caught up from all my traveling. I was trying to catch up all last week from being in Ohio, New Jersey, and Texas. I was home between those trips, but only for brief periods. In that time, the apartment had exploded into a chaos world of bunny fur, cockatiel dust, and hay. Books were staging some sort of coup and weren't returning to shelves, my suitcase refused to unpack itself and a glacier of laundry was moving out of the bedroom. Amid trying to work and catch up on the blog, Non Birding Bill said those magic words: "I'm taking Friday afternoon off, let's go see the new Bond movie!"

But late Sunday, well into Monday and Tuesday I went into a cleaning and organizing frenzy. Interrupted briefly by a one way conversation with my stomach Tuesday morning. Still not quite sure what that was about. Was my stomach getting into the spirit of my apartment purge? I didn't feel sick which is completely out of character when I throw up. I suspect it had more to do with a bad combo of coffee and omega 3 fish oil gel caps.

But back to talking about Laguna! I love the trails and I love the wildlife drive. I took almost a full day to creep along and look for birds to digiscope. I was hoping to get some great shots of a caracara.

But had to settle for the Dr. Seuss stylings of a long-billed curlew! I was showing this photo to a non birding friend of mine (even more so than Non Birding Bill) and he looked at the photo and asked, "What the hell does it use that for?!" The beak is a little striking. I checked out the always fabulous Birds of North America Online. It said that the long decurved bill is used when foraging earthworms or shrimp and crabs. BNA also suggested that the long bill is used mainly when feeding on their wintering grounds as opposed to their breeding grounds. Basically, observers see curlews probing more in winter on the migratory habitat and see more pecking on the breeding grounds. Interesting to have a bill like that and only need it for part of the year.

Osprey were all over the place. The above bird was trying to eat its fish in peace, but had an audience:

This young turkey vulture (it's young because the head is still dark) was biding its time on the side lines, trying to work out a way to sneak in and steal a few bites for the osprey. This bird must really like fish because there's an abundance of fresh roadkill in the Rio Grande Valley. Why didn't the vulture just for that instead?

Laguna had signs posted warning of you alligators. The first gator I ever saw in the wild was at Laguna. I did see a few on my drive:

alligator car

This one was right off the road. I got out of the vehicle to digiscope it. I took a couple of images through the scope with my phone and sent them off.

Here's a digiscoped image. I have to say, there were a couple of points where I felt like I was in the Blink episode of Doctor Who. When I turned away, it almost seemed as if the alligator was closer. It wasn't long after I took this photo that I looked to my left...

second gator

...and found another alligator lounging not too far from me. I digiscoped it too:

Well if that just isn't the most contented looking alligator ever. Realizing that I'm rather short, there are warning signs, and having two alligators near me, I hightailed it back in the car. I love a little adventure in my birding. I love going to places where there are animals that could knock me off a rung or two on the food chain.