Thursday, January 17, 2013—Birding at Falcon Lake and Salaneno

I woke up with a headache and lots of congestion, both the result of breathing in dust at the wood shop. Oh well.

It’s Thursday, and that means it’s birding day. The trip today was to Falcon Lake and Salaneno, northwest of mission, Texas, in the upper Rio Grande Valley. Despite cold temperatures near 40°, 12 hardy birders made the trip.  Fifty-six species were observed, not too bad.

Falcon Lake is famous for its monster bass and for the maniacal obsession of the fishermen who come from all over Texas—and the world—to fish for them.  This somewhat remote reservoir that straddles the international boundary is also Mexican pirates.  In May 2010 three armed burglaries took place on Falcon Lake in Mexican waters.  US citizen David Hartley and his wife, Tiffany, had used personal watercraft on Falcon Lake just a month before a tragic day in September 2010 when investigators believe they wandered into the middle of a drug trade. Hartley was shot and killed by suspected Mexican drug pirates and his wife escaped, according to her account. In response to the border problems, President Obama ordered 1200 troops to patrol the area, but tourists still mostly avoid the place because of the bad publicity. Nevertheless, it is known as a top birding area, but the 2012 drought has seriously impacted the number of birds visiting the area, and in combination with safety and liability concerns, there are many fewer birds and birders than what we observed last year.

At the entrance to Falcon Lake State Park, we stopped to view waterfowl at a private lake, and saw several species, all of which had been seen previously this season. Within the state park we stopped at a feeding station maintained by a volunteer, and I was able to add several species to my life list, including Pyrrhuloxia (a large cardinal-like finch), Cactus Wren, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Bewick’s Wren, Long-billed Thrasher, and many other species.

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130117_E-17After lunch, Jerry led us to Salaneno, one of our favorite places last year.  However, because of liability issues, the private area was closed, and the bird numbers were significantly down.  Near the river, an osprey was dining on a recently caught fish.  Along the very short, abbreviated National Wildlife Refuge trail, a few feeding stations had been setup and maintained, and both the Altimira and Hooded Orioles, and a few other species, were observed.

Back at the are the resort, I hurried to the wood shop to apply a finish to the bowl, and was able to rub out any remaining rough spots. Again, time evaporated and the wood shop closed. Maybe tomorrow. Rubbing the bowl

Despite taking Tylenol, the allergy headache continued, though never reaching migraine level—just a nuisance, more than anything. I do not like not feeling well. As a consequence, we did not participate in card and game night, missing another opportunity to play bridge.

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