Saturday, 7 February 2015

Birding at Sabal Palm Sanctuary

After the rodeo parade this morning, Skip and I thought we'd check out one of our favourite birding spots in the south end of Brownsville, TX.

The Sabal Palm Sanctuary is located south of the levee (aka the fence to keep illegal immigrants out that is patrolled by Border Patrol agents 24/7). Mexico is just across the river from the Sanctuary. In the past, we have seen wet clothing on the bank of the Rio Grande, so we know it is probably one of many locations where people try to enter the US as it is uninhabited by humans.

We first discovered Sabal Palm eight years ago - the first year we spent the winter in south Texas. It is a wonderful place and the destination for many birders who travel to this area.

Three years ago, we were so disappointed to learn that it was closed due to lack of funds. The adjoining Rabb Plantation House was crumbling with disrepair. However, since then there has been an infusion of funds by several sources. The Rabb House has been fixed up and is now the visitor centre. The Sanctuary is open 7 days a week again and has been well-maintained.

The reason the Rio Grande Valley is a prime birding spot is that is is the northernmost habitat for many tropical birds and a southern habitat for many birds of the eastern US.

Today, we hit the jackpot, spotting several species that are only found in this part of the US.

This was the first (and best) photo I took today of three green jays and a golden-fronted woodpecker. This feeder has a live camera trained on it, where anyone in the world can enjoy the activity around it. These birds seemed to prefer the halved oranges. If you click the camera link and it's a black screen chances are it's nighttime there. Check again during daylight hours in Central time.
I love seeing green jays.
There are a couple of resacas (oxbow lakes) at the sanctuary. Turtles and water birds hang out there.
This is one of a pair of least grebes - again only found in the US in this area.
I like the wildflowers, also. In my Google search (Texas wildflower yellow) I was unable to figure out the name of this plant.
The sabal palm is the only species of palm tree that is native to Texas.
After our walk, we went back to the feeder to find this Altamira Oriole and a cardinal. The quality of these photos was not that great as I was quite far away and in the shade.
Up jumped a white-tipped dove - also only found in the US in this area. It's distinctive pink legs were the determining factor of its identification.
Lantana flowers come in many colours. This one is two-toned and one of my favourite shade combination.
It was our first really sunny day since we got here last week so we really tried to make the most of it.

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