Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Palo Alto Battlefield

This morning we went birding at Palo Alto Battlefield, a Texas National Historic Park in the north end of Brownsville. It was the site of the first battle in 1846 of the Mexican-American war that changed the map of North America. It is an interesting historic site with cannons and information plaques around the area. It is also an interesting place to go birdwatching.

The vegetative area around the parking lot is always interesting. The first thing I spotted was a road runner up in a tree. I've only seen one a couple of times on the ground. I heard it first - a clattering sound. When I saw the shape, I was pretty sure it was a greater roadrunner. Then it started cooing, probably looking for its mate.
On the way in, we were cautioned to watch for horned lizards.
Sure enough, I spotted one on a yucca plant. Those points are really sharp so it would be quite protected from a predator.
There are lots of flowers starting to bloom. These pink flowers remind me of field bind weed back home.
I'm not sure what these are.
There are covered areas on higher spots of land with descriptive plaques. I'm sure the shade is very welcome in the sweltering summer temperatures. Today it was about 28C.
Skip, the intrepid birder
This is some type of sparrow we think is a savannah sparrow.
 Quite far away, we spotted a Harris hawk.
I heard this guy and spotted it on a beat up cactus - a curve-billed thrasher
-  in the US it's only found in TX, NM, eastern CO, and AZ.

It has those beady orange eyes.
And no spots on its chest.
This rabbit hopped around nearby.
Skip believes it to be a cottontail.
 This red ant was heading across the asphalt path.
I got a really good macro photo. See the hairs on its back end (abdomen)?
At another spot on the pavement, we spotted an ant trail from one side to the other.
Nilgai were introduced to the area for grazing and hunting. When we were here last March, we saw them in a far-off field. Today we saw lots of evidence that they walk along the same trails we did. There are lots of hoof prints,
and scat (poop) deposits.
We also saw evidence of a bobcat's path across the paved trail.
Last year we visited in late March and saw lots of meadowlarks. I heard several and was able to capture this shot of one quite far away.
I whipped out my Peterson app and confirmed by the call that it is an eastern meadowlark.  Here's the best shot I got of its bright yellow breast and black throat spot.
This little lantana was growing between the cracks in the pavement.
 Back in the parking lot this brambly tree was showing little red flowers.
We were out there for about 3 hours. Also spotted was a cardinal and a crested caracara.

We didn't see a large number of birds but what we saw was quite impressive.

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