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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival

We started the Festival week with a Warbler Talk given by author and expert Jon Dunn Tuesday evening, it was a benefit for the Frontera Audubon. Ken bought Jon's Warbler book for me and had Jon autograph it. It was a good start for the Festival.

Wed. morning we had our first field trip, Leps, Odes, and Herps or Butterflies, Dragonflies and Reptiles we were taken to Edinburg Wetland and Birding Center. We saw lots of dragonflies, butterflies and one very special Violet Banded Skipper which is a rarity to this region but only a couple of turtles for the Herps.

Thurs. morning was our earliest field trip starting out at 6 am to Brownsville to visit the Nature Conservancy Southmost Preserve and the Gulf on Boca Chica Road. On this trip we saw two new birds for us, a Gull-billed Tern in the fields next to Boca Chica Rd and a Magnificent Frigatebird which one of the leaders spotted way out in the gulf, we used a spotting scope to view it.
Friday morning our Secret Jewels field trip started out at 7 am where the leaders took us in vans to Los Ebanos Preserve and Casa and the Los Ebanos Lake two separate preserves with the same name. At the Casa, we all got to see a couple of Hook billed Kites which we learned from our very excited leaders is a rare bird in Cameron county.

Saturday's Easy Birding field trip was also a small group trip to Benito Trevino's Ranch north of Rio Grande City. Benito has feeders set up and he is a eco botanist so we learned much from him. The morning turned cold and wet on us and his sweet wife gave us jackets and blankets to keep warm and she had baked us cookies made with mesquite flour... mmmm. The birds must have been cold too as we didn't get to see as many as the leaders had on their scouting trip.

This morning, Ken had a 6 am Photo Safari with Ruth Hoyt, I believe he said there was 8 going to a private ranch north of Mission where photo blinds and waterholes are set up. So maybe Ken will come back with some great shots of animals and birds even though its cloudy. Ken had an intro class on Friday afternoon, I took that time and checked out all the booths at the Birders Bazaar. There were artists to visit with, jewelry makers, optic vender's, chamber of commerce reps for other bird festivals, birding tour operators, local bird centers and groups. One of the artists I learned grew up in a town next to where I grew up. What a small world!

Ken has a couple of his photos entered in the local Audubon photo contest. I'm not sure when the winners are to be announced. I met one of my favorite bloggers and learned that she used to live and teach in Excelsior.

We have enjoyed the festival and we like the smaller van trips better then the big bus trips as we got to know the leaders and other birders better. The leaders are brought in from across the US and they usually are contributor's to birding publications. The participants come from all over usually looking to add the Texas speciality birds to their life lists. The fun part is meeting all the people and learning a little of this and that from them. We find that Birders are the friendliest people.
This week's Mexican saying is:
Sarna con gusto no pica
translation: If you do something you like, the sacrifices don't matter.
It's a good one for festival week.

1 comment:

Kay said...

Nice summary of the festival, Julie! I wish I had gone on some of the field trips. It was fun working at the ACAS booth, though, and especially meeting you "in person"!
I always enjoy the photos you post on the blog. Thanks!