Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Chasing a lifer, a Northern Jacana

The word was out. At Estero Llano Grande State Park, a juvenile Northern Jacana had been seen. I called my neighbor, Joanne, and we put on our birding gear and headed out. The day was sweltering but luckily the bird wasn't far down the trail, right at Grebe Marsh. We even had a bit of shade while we checked him out.

This is a really interesting bird, he has these huge feet that allow him to walk on lilypads and sometimes it appears he is even walking on top of the water, that is why he is also known as the "Jesus"bird.

They feed on insects on the surface of vegetation and ovules of water lilies. They will also consume snails, worms, small crabs, fish, mollusks, and seeds.

An awesome life bird for us!

We also saw this handsome Black Bellied Whistling Duck.

One of my favorite ducks because of their clawed web feet that allows them to perch on wires and tree limbs, and for their strange whistling call.

Here is a link to hear the call.


Another favorite of mine is the Great Kiskadee.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Border Patrol Horse Patrol

Our community had the opportunity to visit our local Border Patrol horse patrol unit that is right down the road from us. We learned a lot about this Border Patrol unit that utilizes captured and trained wild mustangs.  It might seem old fashioned, but the mustangs are a very effective way of patrolling the border.  They're able to access areas that ATVs and other vehicles can't, and the horses are able to sense the illegals, by sight and smell, quite often before the agents themselves.  The horses patrol an area of the Rio Grande Valley sector which covers Brownsville to Falcon Heights.

In 1924, agents signing up for the newly commissioned Border Patrol were required to bring their own horses, according to the agency.  Washington furnished a badge, a revolver, oats and hay for the horses, and a $1,680 annual salary.  The horse patrol was phased out in 1935, as motorized vehicles were put into use.

The horses are making a comeback though due to a partnership with the Bureau of Land Management that captures feral mustangs on federal lands and sends them to prisons to be broken.

Inmates at Hutchinson Correctional Facility, in Kansas, broke and trained the mustangs acquired by the Rio Grande Valley Sector.  Once at Border Patrol stables, the horses are made accustomed to loud noises, such as gunshots, and people.

They patrol in pairs, casing the wooded bluffs along the Rio Grande, and muscling through thick brush that ATVs and pickup trucks can't penetrate.  Since arriving in July, the horses here have assisted in arresting 355 suspects and seizing more than 1,900 pounds of marijuana.

The Border Patrol officers built this facility themselves, with land given them by Fish and Wildlife.

As part of the socialization, this four year old is having his first pedicure.

All the horses are mustangs, except for three which were captured during a bust.  Those three horses are supposedly retired race horses.

The agents go through four weeks of training, and Agent Garcia said it’s extensive.  The Border Patrol aims to put the best riders in the field, because what they’re doing is dangerous, he said.

“We are literally a mile from the river in one of the busiest zones in the nation,” Garcia said. “From here, the agents deploy immediately to where the threat is.”

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park

Phil and I attended a reenactment of the Mexican-American War at Palo Alto Battlefield.
On May 8, 1846, United States and Mexican troops clashed on the prairie of Palo Alto near Brownsville, Texas.
To read more of this fascinating time in history click here.

These gourds carried water, kept it cooler and fresher longer. The American soldiers started carrying them after finding them on dead Mexican soldiers.

There was only one American soldier represented at the reenactment 

Firing of the long rifles

Interesting face

Readying the cannon

Firing of the cannon

We enjoyed the reenactment and we learned a lot about the start of the Mexican-American war.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Salineno Texas

Salineno is a place that unless you are a bird watcher you've probably have never heard of it.
It is located a little ways before Falcon Dam if you coming from the Mission Area.

People go to Salineno for the Audubon's Oriole and the Hooded Oriole. They are also hoping to see a wild Muscovy Dick or a Brown Jay. We took our friends Bill and Cece to Salineno because if your are taking people who have never birdred before it's a great place. Some lawn chairs are set up right in front of the feeders and you can just sit and watch all the beauties come in to your heart's content.

Black Crested Titmouse

Audubon's Oriole

Salineno has been a birding mecca since the seventies. It was given to the Valley Land Fund and is run by volunteers.

To get to Salineno from Mission, Texas, you go 83 west until about 5 miles give or take from Falcon Dam.

The road you want is Salineno road on the left. You drive down that road until you are at the river and you will see a sign for Valley Land Fund.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Rancho El CHarco

Rancho El Charco is located in La Joya Texas. One of our neighbors organized a tour for us of thirty people. We toured the ranch on a mule drawn wagon and had a wonderful bbq lunch.
At the entrance there is a entertaining sculpture that catches your eye.

Love the horses and the Texas Longhorn!

We stopped at this waterfall with a swinging bridge. I didn't attempt to cross the bridge, but some of the others did.

We also saw these cute pygmy goats.

Love the painted tiles.

I fell in love with the American Bison.

This statue of a bison made out of  rebar is amazing.

Delicious brisket, chicken and pork ribs.

View from the deck.