Sunday, 25 March 2018

Onion Fest and a Bit of Birding at Estero Llano Grande State Park

Skip and I ventured up the Valley today to attend the Weslaco Onion Fest - a one day fair featuring the state vegetable of Texas: the 1015 Onion. It is a sweet onion that got its name by the optimum planting date of October 10.

While there we had a delicious plate of tacos de bistek with a side of frijoles charros. I had a couple of mango and strawberry 'brainfreezes' (slushies). We then ambled over to the Hermes Music Stage to listen to Mariachi Mariposas, an all-female, 13-piece mariachi band. Most of the members are school teachers who direct and promote mariachi music in their schools in the Valley. Because of backlighting, my iPhone pics were crappy but I did get a few seconds of video when I stood over to the side.
We then headed over to Estero Llano State Park to see what birds we could find.

The Texas olive trees are in bloom all over the Valley.
A large flock of these little sandpipers flew in.

The yellow legs were the diagnostic for least sandpipers.
There were lots of green-winged teal.

Female Green-Wing Teal
Then we saw this unfamiliar duck with a dark bill and dark back with white stripes.
They were intently feeding and it was hard to get a shot with its head out of the water.
They're fulvous whistling ducks - life birds for both Skip and me.

Northern Shovelers
We sat on the bench by the Grebe Pond (no grebes - only turtles) and a blue dragonfly landed on the gravel in front of me. 
At the turn on the way to the Alligator Pond was the usual gang of night herons. This time, we only saw yellow-crowned ones.

The top one had the plumes on its crown straight out.

Juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night Heron
Right in front of me was a smooth softshell turtle.
At the feeding station I only got one shot of the buff-bellied hummingbird before my SD card in the camera was full. 
While I was deleting old pics to make room, I totally missed the chachalaca that flew up onto the feeder. Oh well.

It was a very nice day 'up the valley'.

Next Thursday we'll be back in the area until Sunday - our getaway from the crowds on the island for Holy Week. While there, we'll visit Quinta Mazatlan, the Old Hidalgo Pumphouse, a couple of favourite restaurants, Costco, Barnes and Noble, and a driving range. We'll return to the island on Easter Sunday where things should calm down for our last 10 days here.

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