On Tuesday, Kate and I left the unseasonably warm weather of Wisconsin to travel to the typically balmy climate of Harlingen, Texas. The 15th annual Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival starts today and I feel very fortunate to be representing Eagle Optics at this outstanding festival. Since I have never been to this area of the country, almost every bird is a life bird for me.
Our first night in the valley found us with devoted bird lovers on a nighttime outing which yielded my first looks at Common Paraques, an Eastern Screech Owl, and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks. I might have seen the owl and ducks by pure luck, but getting the Paraque was only made possible when the pro in our group encouraged me to look closer at what appeared to be a clump of dirt in the plowed field. The next morning was windy and not conducive to birding, but the 15-acre sanctuary of Frontera Audubon in Weslaco, Texas provided looks at the Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Plain Chachalaca, Inca Dove, and Great Kiskadee. I also got a real taste of what it was like to be among numerous butterflies. With Kate's help, I was soon spotting Julias, Queens, Zebra Longwings, Brown Longtails, and White Peacocks.
The Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge delivered my first encounter with Green Jays, or as Kate says, "the Vegas showgirls of birds". We got a great look at groups of five Groove-billed Anis and juvenile Black-bellied Whistling Ducks. There was more, but we were most excited for Kate to finally see her first Malachite butterfly! She had been looking for a Malachite for three years and we must have seen close to two dozen while we were there. Kate had the most beautiful one perched on her finger when we realized we should have brought a camera.
The camera is packed for today! (Barn Owl photo taken at the festival).
Eagle Optics Staff