When I arrived in Harlingen, Texas for the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival, I was overwhelmed with the many possibilities for birding in South Texas. I was delighted when a Twitter and Facebook friend, Marsha Kraus Fulton, contacted me and offered to take me birding at Estero Llano Grande State Park the next morning. Estero Llano Grande is located in Weslaco, Texas and is part of the World Birding Center network, which consists of nine locations in the Rio Grande Valley.
I was only a little late to meet Marsha in the parking lot. Fortunately, Marsha was familiar with the area, and she led the way through the birding center. As we walked across a stream into a wooded area, a Great Kiskadee greeted us with a series of loud calls.
I heard the call of the Great Kiskadee very frequently throughout my visit to the Rio Grande Valley. You can hear it here.
Next we walked to an area where Common Pauraques had been seen, and we were fortunate enough to see two of them. I would never have found them on my own, but Marsha knew where they had been seen. They blend so well with their surroundings that it is very difficult to see them, even when you know you are looking right at them.
After quietly oohing and aahing over the beautiful plumage of the Common Pauraque we walked over to the alligator pond. Although we did not see any alligators, we did see a White Ibis standing sentry over the pond.
We continued up onto the levee and stopped to watch American White Pelicans circling overhead. Their flight patterns reminded me of the Sandhill Cranes that we see in New Mexico.
A White-tailed Kite hunted along the levee …
… and a Turkey Vulture flew overhead.
We continued into another wooded area where feeders had been set up. I loved the large Bougainvillea that were growing in this area.
In the feeder area we saw a beautiful Golden-fronted Woodpecker feeding on citrus.
Plain Chachalaca announced themselves noisily.
You can hear the raucous call of these noisy birds here.
I saw a flash of color in the trees, and I saw my first Green Jay, one of the birds that I had really hoped to see during my visit.
On the way to the hummingbird area, we paused to look at a few butterflies. We saw this lovely Dorantes Longtail (Urbanus dorantes).
Perhaps the highlight of our day was seeing the very rare Blomfild’s Beauty (Smyrna blomfildia), a lovely and rare butterfly, who was sitting on a feeder along with a very worn and tattered Mexican Bluewing female.
After looking at the butterflies, we went over to the hummingbird area where we saw this pretty female Black-chinned Hummingbird …
… and this lovely Buff-bellied Hummingbird.
Marsha was a wonderful guide, and I am very grateful for her kindness in showing me a beautiful birding area.
At the end of the day I began to dream of more lovely birds to see in the following days.
If you enlarge the photo, you will see that the black dot above and to the right of the rising moon is a Great Blue Heron flying overhead.