Friday, March 12, 2010

Spring in South Texas

If you’ve followed our blog entries you’ll know that we entered west Texas last October and arrived at Bentsen Palm Village RV on November 1. November was a great month. Sunny days, comfortable evenings, bird activity was great as were flowering plants and butterflies. Then December arrived.
Since December we’ve suffered three killing frosts, frumpy skies, high winds and way cooler than normal temps. I know we've missed a Wisconsin winter and we're grateful that we have. BUT, we came to Texas to enjoy much improved winter weather so yes, we feel compelled to complain! Specially since everyone in the RV Park who have been here in previous winters have said, 1) "you should have been here last winter – it was perfect," and 2) "this has been the worst winter in Texas in recent memory."
Hawk Tower Bentsen RGSP
But now it’s approaching mid-March and our weather has finally changed for the better. Foliage knocked down by frost is finally beginning to return – it now looks like mid-June in Wisconsin. Birds are singing and species that have been absent are returning – like Scissor–tailed Flycatchers. By the end of March we should start seeing Mississippi Kites.
Normally by March in Wisconsin in past years we have rejoiced in the return of Redwing Blackbirds and Sandhill Cranes. According to Wisbirdn (Wisconsin Birding Network) this is what's starting to occur in Wisconsin. Here in Texas we’re pleased to have experienced large numbers of redwing as they have bunched up to head north and now the fields are filled with meadowlarks. Local species - Plain Chachalacas and Long-billed Thrashers are vocalizing much more often. An Elf Owl is being heard again in Bentsen RGSP.
Before we left for Ecuador, yucca plants at Laguna Atascosa NWR were just starting to show their flower heads. Although at Laguna they have pretty much gone to seed, here in the middle Rio Grande Valley, they’re just now peaking. Newly hatched butterfly offspring are also starting to emerge. Black Swallowtail in particular.
At the end of March we’re heading to north Texas to park near Anahuac NWR on Trinity Bay for a few weeks. One week to explore surrounding habitat as spring migrants begin their push across the Gulf. And one week to store the RV and fly to Cozumel to meet Chris and Robyn along with Callie and Carter. The word “babysitting” has been mentioned! It will be good to see them (they'll be pleased to exchange ski slopes for sand beaches). And, we hope to do a bit of birding, too. Cozumel has a few endemics you know.
 near the boat landing in Bentsen RGSP
 Kiskadee Trail Bentsen RGSP
Then we’re off to Louisiana - just not sure quite where yet - before we head north to Wisconsin to arrive in time for May warbler migration. We have plans to drive to Ohio with the Dunsmores for a birding festival at Black Swamp Observatory while our RV gets its annual checkup in Wausau. We very much look forward to catching up with family and friends and beyond that, who knows! It doesn’t pay to plan too far ahead…

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