Birder Heaven: Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park

golden-fronted-woodpecker_bentsen-riograndesp-tx_lah_4932Time was running out. I had one more day of birding paradise, and too many options remaining. Should I go to Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge? Salineno, a 90 minute drive up the valley, was reporting Brown Jays. Maybe we should head there. Then I overheard someone mention that a Black-vented Oriole was hanging around the feeding station at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, just 20 minutes from our motel. The decision was made—I’d be chasing another lifer.

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Birder Heaven: A Large, Plain Estuary

“Have you seen the Rose-throated Becard? It’s at Estero Llano.”
“You still haven’t seen a Pauraque? You’ve got to go to Estero Llano Grande.”
“The birding here is good, but the best birding is at Estero Llano Grande State Park.”

After hearing all the comment, we just had to go check it all out for ourselves.

duck_esterollanograndesp-tx_lah_4363_filteredEstero Llano Grande State Park (which means “large plain estuary”) didn’t exist when I was in Texas five years ago—it was still a sorghum field and dry lake bed. Since habitat takes time to return to its natural state, I wasn’t sure that reality could possibly live up to all the hype. I forget that plants grow faster in south Texas than they do in high, dry Colorado!

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