Sunday, February 1, 2009

Wild Animals of South Texas

Larry and Sue got into Houston Wednesday evening, it was great to see them and to get started on the next part of our adventure!
An uneventful trip through Texas cattle country put us in Harlingen on Thursday afternoon. It was great to be greeted by Mom and Dad and warm weather! We've had a few busy days, I'll try to give you a little flavor of our time here in the Rio Grande Valley - so far!
The big news in the park has been the wild green parrot flock that has visited several times this winter. We're listening for them, but haven't seen anything so far - Mom and Dad assure me that we'll hear them if they come into the park.
Friday was pretty quiet - we had a great lunch at a little Mexican cafe called Alicia's, and went into the pool and hot tub -- too bad if it was only 70 degrees, these northern folks were really anxious to get warm! In the evening my Aunt Lorraine, cousin's Judy and Jim, and Judy's husband Don, came over for cocktails. It was fun to see them - Judy has taken some neat pictures of the parrots in the park.
Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge was our destination Saturday morning. The refuge is east of Harlingen, and home to a great variety of birds and wildlife - ocelots, deer, javelinas, coyotes & alligators. It also is considered a premier birdwatching destination. We saw lots of birds - and three alligators! The birds were mostly at the Visitor Center, the green jays were really beautiful, but we might try to get back some day in the early morning so we can see a few more species. So we drove to the lake and a viewpoint area. there was a huge gator floating in the lake, right in front of the observation platform, and another with his eyes peeking out that we saw for just a couple of minutes. A 1/2 mile walk to a spot called Alligator Pond gave us our best 'gator viewing! Two large gators were in the pond - one sunning himself on the shore and the other just floating in the water. After a couple of minutes, the guy on the shore slipped into the water and came swimming over to see us!! He just came and floated in front of the deck for about half an hour. We figured he was at least 8 feet long and the other guy was bigger! That was fun.
Sunday's plan was to visit the South Padre Island Kite Festival - but Mom and Dad took a bike ride first and Dad spotted a hawk building a nest in a Norfolk Pine on the other side of the park. So I grabbed the camera and Mom's bike and headed out. We watched the hawk working on a nest and the second hawk even joined it for a bit. I got a few pictures and then we looked it up - I believe it is a Harris' Hawk.
The wind was light today as we headed to the island to catch the Kite Festival. It was on the beach and there was everything from little individual kites to HUGE characters and even "team" kite flying -- they had 3 and 4 people flying kites in patterns, set to music. After a walk on the beach and collecting a few seashells (because none of us have enough of them!), we had a great lunch at Blackbeard's. Grilled shrimp, mahi mahi and giant onion rings!! We didn't even need to make dinner tonight - just snacks during the Super Bowl!
The rest of the week will hold new adventures - a trip to Nuevo Progresso, the flea market, an eco tour on the Bay, and maybe even a fishing trip! Stay warm everyone - we are :-)

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