Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Whither shall we wander?

The Louisiana tour was over. On our own again. Should we go east towards Miami, or west towards Texas? Susan, also on the tour, mentioned she was heading for the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival in Harlingen TX. I mentioned it to John. Susan also asked if we needed a Jicana. I asked John and he said 'Of course!' It was only seen one day, but got him thinking. We started west ostensibly to redo some of the LA tour's areas but kept heading west without stopping. We managed to get to Kingsville that night.

The next morning we were at the festival headquarters about 9:30. They told us to come back at 12 for walk-in registration. Off we went towards Atacosa on Highway 100. As we approached Old Port Isabel Road I suggested we check it out. Some may remember that we went on it earlier in the year. John had gone on it earlier still. It was a REALLY rutted road and no falcons! This time it had been freshly scraped! Easy as pie! In fact, John was going a bit too fast and I saw the Aplomado Falcon take off from a fence post right next to us. We saw it but not well. John could count it. 671! We continued on to Farm Road 541 and back north to Harlingen.

Got back to the festival at 11:45 and the nice ladies started registering us right away. John got all day tours Wednesday, Thursday and Friday that he wanted. I will go on the first one with him and on half day tours after that. John will still have time for a couple of days in Miami if he wants, before he flies to Philadelphia next Tuesday.

We asked some of the volunteers where we could look for Sprague's Pipit. One suggested farm fields north of Harlingen. After lunch, we wandered there awhile. The sun was getting lower. I said I wanted to go back to Old Port Isabel Road. This time we would approach from Farm Road 541 and have the sun at our backs. Another car came behind us. I fussed a bit that we wouldn't be alone, we switched places a few times, the other driver seemed to not see the falcons flying off fences ahead of us. She flushed two that flew back past us and John didn't get pictures. Argh! BUT one flew back and landed right next to her car on the fence. I didn't want to move our car closer, so John got out and crouch-crawled up using her car as a shield. He got pictures of it on the fence and then in flight! Yay!!!

We continued to follow the other car north. She turned around close to the end of the road and headed back toward us. She thought she had to go all the way back to FR 541. I got to tell her that Highway 100 was just ahead. She turned around again and followed us out. Glad I could pay back a bit for the great views.

There were a Peregrine Falcon and a pair of White-Tailed Hawks along the port road too. Plus all the other usual raptors. Nice day! John was delighted that we decided to head towards Texas this morning.

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