Gretchen and I arrived in Texas on Sunday and spent the afternoon and evening with my parents. I introduced Gretchen to some real Mexican food, including salsa -- of which she's a big fan.
On Monday morning, we headed south for a day of driving and birding on our way to Kingsville, where we were going to stay with my brother. We had decided right from the beginning that we were going to do the things we never do when AB or LT (our honeys) are in the car: if we see a bird on the side of the road, STOP NOW! Hit the brakes and yank that car onto the shoulder and check it out!
First stop: a cow feed lot where we saw a lot of ducks coming in for a landing:OMG like 500 Black-bellied Whistling Ducks! There they were, hanging out with the cattle and the Brown-headed Cowbirds! There were Green-winged Teals, Northern Pintails, and Gadwalls. It was pretty mind-blowing, seeing that many whistling ducks in the middle of a pasture/feedlot just south of San Antonio.
There was also this beautiful flower:
I left my Texas wildflowers book at home, dangit! More on this flower (and others) later.
On another back road, we saw the Gray Ghost!
We got great looks at him, even if my photo sucks. Northern Harrier male!
Look at this beautiful pink flower:ID to come on this one too. It does kinda look like an escapee to me, though, especially as it was the only plant of its kind in the area.
On the way to Port Aransas via Beeville, we saw more Sandhills:
And on another backroad, we saw this:While I was getting closer and closer, I was walking in some grass on the side of the road and I met the Texas resident I least miss: the fire ant! OUCH! I only got one bite before I ran out of there, but not before I really got close to my red-shouldered friend:
We had a moment. And then another fire ant bit me and I ran away.
One of my favorite birds, the Crested Caracara. That's some flashy tail, buddy.
We pulled off the road near the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and look what we saw!
WHOOP! Two Whooping Cranes for a nice lifer for both me and Gretchen!
Gretchen took a step into an ant mound:
No bites for her though.
We saw about a million Red-tailed Hawks (UPDATE) but this is a FERRUGINOUS HAWK:
Gretchen and I knew it looked too light to be a red-tail, but we figured it was an immature. However, birding pal Alex Lamoreaux said it's a Ferruginous! That's a lifer! Thank goodness I was able to get such good pics!
Here's a red-tail for you:We saw bunches of them!
And several Long-billed Curlews, including this one who enjoyed the sun's shine on his bill:
Below Aransas Pass, we took a ferry and saw some nice pelicans including this shy Brown Pelican:
It was only like a five-minute ride, but it was still unexpected and cool. More pelicans, this time of the white variety:
So we made it down to Kingsville and spent the night at my brother's house. He was good enough to grill us some chicken and some steaks - YUM. Exhausted and sleepy.