Tuesday, 13 December 2016

A day of two halves

I persuaded Louise to make a 5.30am start this morning! I drove west to Zapata (as Mexican a name as you can get) through dense fog and drizzle...not pleasant. The recent rains have left a lot of moisture in the atmosphere...unfortunately. We stopped and had breakfast at McDonalds...and waited. I'd driven around 100 miles, so I was reluctant to give up but by 10 there was no sign of a break in the clouds (even though it was 65F) so we returned east. I promised her some sunshine.
I have the excellent Roads of Texas and I had a cunning plan to avoid all the traffic on our return. It was going so well until we turned a bend just before we returned to the tarmac...
Fortunately the wonderful road Atlas found us another way out!
We arrived back in McAllen around 12.30 and it was still misty. After the regulation Starbucks (the Wi-Fi allowing me to check for any news) I decided that a slow afternoon at one of the magnificent reserves was in order...somewhere CLOSE!
Time for a proper visit to Estero Llano Grande S.P. The view from the observation platform...
Slight issues with the panorama mode but inviting I think you would agree. I had around 30 minutes watching the comings and goings.
A stunning male Cinnamon Teal...it's only a duck?
I then started to walk the trails. The sun was now beating down but I wasn't complaining...for obvious reasons!
As I walked the boardwalk I noticed something unusual in the water to my left. It was around 80 yards away. The light was amazing and I could see immediately it was a cat...a large cat...a Bobcat!
It stayed motionless for a good 2 minutes and was hoping for a dozy duck. I started back to get Louise but I reckoned it would have gone by the time we returned. Sure enough moments later it was gone. I was surprised to see it in the water with Alligators present on the reserve? VERY lucky to witness this spectacle.
I made my way towards the aptly named Alligator lake. I had been given VERY vague directions to a site for Pauraque...the signature bird of the reserve. As already stated I failed to find the bird at Santa Ana...without Marks help, so I approached the area without much hope. I did find the Eastern Screech Owl box but there was no sign of life. I walked the short horseshoe shaped path looking carefully at any suitable habitat...closely. Nothing.
I returned to the main track after around 30 minutes...my eyes were sore! I then noticed a small woodpile so I started scanning it.
Hope this doesn't sound too smart...BUT...I found one!!!
Really chuffed to find this amazingly camouflaged bird. it was totally unconcerned by my presence. I kept a good distance but managed a closer shot with the telephoto lens...
One of the highlights of my trip...and there have been many. I still can't believe I found it with such vague information. As if to illustrate the difficulty I then saw another about 5 feet away that I was completely unaware of!!!
Both birds are in this pic...can you see them?
Another highlight of a wonderful afternoon was a close encounter with a Green Kingfisher in the same area. I heard the "stones banging together" sound and there it was in the bush by Alligator Pond...
Unfortunately she was into the sun...a hint of colour on the throat? Luckily she flew across the path and landed reasonably close in another bush...
Front view
Back view

There's more but time's up.
Stay tuned...

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