Thursday, December 13, 2012—Birding 101

121213_E30A group of 20 hardy bird watchers departed the resort at 7:30 AM this morning, driving to Estero Llano Grande State Park in Weslaco, Texas, about 35 miles east of where we’re spending the winter.  This is one of the RGV’s best birding areas, and the staff and volunteers do a great job of feeding birds and making the bird watching experience a great one.  Jerry and Karen Smith were our leaders.  Jerry, shown in the plaid long-sleeved shirt in the top photo, is a retired biologist having worked for the St. Paul District, US Army Corps of Engineers; in addition, he is a world-class birder. I was not as overwhelmed on this trip as the one last year, and though I did not know the names of most of the birds, I at least was able to view them and note their calls and unique appearance—for the most part!  This park has a significant amount of wetlands, and consequently has lots of ducks and shore birds.  Among my favorites were the whistling ducks, all three species of teal, the anhinga which is also known as a water turkey or snake bird (look carefully at it’s photo below and see the ‘gator to the lower left), the vermillion flycatcher, common pauraque (see if you can find the two of them in the last photo) and the yellow-crowned night heron.  All told, 78 species were identified.
By afternoon, temperatures had warmed sufficiently for a soak in the pool and hot tub to ease all the aches and pains of the morning’s long walk.
Though it was “games and cards” night, we enjoyed a quiet evening watching season 2 episodes of Downton Abbey.
A link to the web photo album of this winter’s Texas trip can be found at the following link:

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