Stayed at Rio Grande Village Campground in Big Bend National Park for a few days. Had the first hot, dry weather I’ve had this year (in the 90′s). Had decided to just stay in the campground this visit, before the price of gas went up ($4 a gallon in the park). I drove all over the park on my first visit here and there was enough to do around the campground.
On driving from the town of Marathon to the campground, I was struck by the complete lack of roadside trash (not one plastic bag blowing in the wind)! Trash in the Rio Grande Valley area is omnipresent.
There are spring fed ponds (in the foreground in the picture above) along a nature trail in the campground. Water from the Rio Grande River enters the one seen above when the river floods.
Saw a number of roadrunners. Was surprised to see one “wag it’s tail”, hold it’s tail up and wag it right and left. Also intermittently heard roadrunners in trees making deep cooing sounds.
Cardinals and pyrrhuloxia were present in the campground area. Near the pond there were two young herons, along with common yellowthroats, a bittern, and a pied-billed grebe.
Coyotes were often seen walking through the campground.
There are mosquitofish in the pond. An endangered species, Big Bend Gambusia, or Big Bend Mosquitofish, are in a protected isolated pond.
My third and last week at Falcon State Park. One picnic area at the park has half of its sites closed off because of water damage (top picture). There were strong winds here one day that brought the water in close to the remaining sites. The park has definitely lost land to the water this past year.
There is a 3-mile trail around the park (lower picture) that shows the brush that is so easy for wildlife to disappear into. The brushland appears so desolate when driving through it, but a lot of wildlife depend on it to survive.
There are javelina here. Saw a group with one baby walk through my campsite one night.
The large flocks of kiskadees are gone, but you see individual ones around. Just this week started hearing and seeing cactus wrens (above). They are year-round residents, so they were probably here, I just didn’t cross paths with them.
On the park road, before you enter the park past the headquarters, I saw a group of chachalaca’s. Don’t recall seeing them here before. Know the bobcats would love the park to have a large population of them.
Meadowlarks are seen in groups and individually.
Have seen three pairs of roadrunners that come out to sun themselves in the morning.
A three-day cold spell just swept through here, as it did a lot of the country. Went from the low 80′s during the day and 60′s at night to the 30′s and 20′s, with one day of light snow and sleet. It’s starting to warm back up now.
I often find good picture opportunities in inclement weather. Got the picture of the blue-gray gnatcatcher above, and the caracara below in the cold weather, as well as the roadrunner further down the page.
Came upon a large gathering of caracara’s. One adult had found something to eat, and caracara’s from all over landed nearby to see if there was anything for them (there wasn’t). There were a number of juvenile caracara’s (seen above).
Inca doves on a cold morning.
Vermilion flycatcher. Also saw juvenile vermilion flycatchers.
There are lots of young ones in the flocks of pyrrhuloxia’s (adult seen above).
Roadrunner. Initially saw it sunning itself after a night of freezing temps.
Two new sightings to start the new year off. A white-tailed kite with prey (top) and a white-tailed hawk (bottom). Both seen at or near Laguna Atascosa Wildlife Refuge. I saw the kite flapping it’s wings and staying in place and then swoop down to the ground. Later saw it had a rodent in it’s claws.
There were a dozen or more reddish egrets along the beach at the refuge. This bird is listed as threatened.
A meadowlark and a roadrunner, both seen at the refuge.
Walking near my rv, saw a couple of kingbirds chasing a juvenile mockingbird. When I stopped to take a picture of the mockingbird, it flew closer to me, which is very unusual. Think it knew the kingbirds would not come near him with me standing there. I stood there with him for about five minutes. The next day he was back, but there was also an adult mockingbird nearby.
Went to put some trash in a large bin at the campground one day and screamed when I saw two eyes looking at me from the container. Felt silly then, as it was a pair of raccoons. There was a cold wind blowing and they looked warm and cozy in the container.
I have been in Big Bend National Park for more than a week. Have really missed not having internet access. This is one place your can’t even get Rush Limbaugh on the radio (yeh)! There is only one am station from Mexico and one NPR station on fm.
The Chihuahuan Desert you pass to get to the Rio Grande Village Campground has to be one of the prettiest deserts there is. Of course, February through April is the prime season. There is so much green cactus that appears to be new growth.
The second picture is of the Sierra del Carmen mountains in Mexico that you can see from the campground.
The last place for “river runners” on the Rio Grande River to come ashore in Big Bend is in Rio Grande Village (third picture).
Boquillas Canyon near the campground. There is a small Mexican village here that used to boat Americans over to eat at their restaurants and buy crafts. This stopped after 9/11. Now there is a problem with theft of items from tourist’s cars near the border. There is also a problem with drug smugglers going through the park.
Candelilla plant (foreground). People used to extract the wax that coats the plant to make candles and other items. This is still done in Mexico.
Roadrunners in the campground area. They are not tame, but they don’t usually run from people like they do elsewhere.
Eastern bluebird. There is a grove of trees planted by early settlers near the campground that are kept watered for the shade they provide.
White winged dove. There was a flock on them in the same grove of trees as the bluebird.
There was a hot springs spa near the campground that was in business until 1952. The flowers have reseeded and grown for 50 years without attention! What a great legacy. Stones like you see in the cliff above were used as flooring in some of the early adobe homes.
Rock nettle is shown growing in the picture above.
This daisy plant may give a clue as to some of the flowers. There was flooding along the Rio Grande in the fall. A number of campsites were damaged from it. You can see the dried mud around the above daisy. Maybe the flood gave a lot of seeds a chance to germinate.
In David Sibley’s bird book he says the great-tailed grackle is common and increasing. While staying at Lake Casa Blanca in Laredo I noticed that between 5-6 p.m. there was a continuous stream of grackles (and some black birds) flying over my rv to roost near the lake. It was like all the grackles in Laredo, Texas were coming in for the night.
I have left Texas and am heading back to California for a few days. The pictures above are from around the Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park, the World Birding Center headquarters in Mission, Texas. The second photo is of a thrasher. Saw some “turkey ducks” muscovy ducks at a city park.
From Mission, went to Falcon State Park that is based next to the 98,960-surface-acre International Falcon Reservoir. The bridge across the dam goes into Mexico. This would have been an interesting spot to explore, but the temperature was more than 100 degrees, and it was not dry heat! It was too hot for my air conditioner to keep my rv cool. Know I’m a wimp. There is a very large presence of boarder patrol agents here. Saw their cars all over the place. Don’t think I saw even one regular police car.
My next stop was Lake Casa Blanca International State Park in Laredo. The heat continued here, if anything it was hotter. So after one day, I headed for the hills, hill country that is. It was so good to see oak trees again. I stayed at Lost Maples State Natural Area in Vanderpool, Texas. Here it rained and there was quite a lightening show. It was also very crowded, due to spring break. Want to come back here, October must be beautiful.
Next was South Llano River State Park, where it was also raining, in the 50′s, and crowded. There was beautiful weather at Balmorhea State Park, but the crowds continued. Love that families get a chance to visit the parks, but hate to travel during holiday’s if I have a choice about it. Note to self: learn more about boondocking!
As I was leaving Balmorhea, saw the hawk, pictured below. The roadrunner was at a picnic area near El Paso, Texas. It is usually so hard to get a picture of one of these, but this one looked like it wanted a handout.