It took a week or so to settle back into our site 215 at Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort (owned by Bentsen Palm Development). Washed and waxed the RV and truck. Reorganized the RV's interior. Got the bikes out and assembled. Rekindled friendships with old neighbors. Met new neighbors. You know. Just settled back into where we had left off last year.
Amazingly, for the first time in nine years we didn't have an out-of-country birding trip planned. While there's no lack of activities in the park, we're just not the line dancing, quilting, or card playing types. Were we worried about boredom setting in? Hardly. We've always managed to find things to do to entertain ourselves.
This year we looked forward to having many birding friends arrive (mostly from Wisconsin). Word seemed to have gotten out that we knew our way around the birding community in south Texas so our birding friends just naturally wanted to stop by.
Enter Jennifer Rycenga and her partner Peggy Macres who flew in from Half Moon Bay, CA for a whirlwind three day birding blitz. We had recently spent time with Jennifer at the 2011 Monterrey Birding Festival and now, Jennifer was on the tail-end of an attempt to see 500 ABA species in 2011. We knew many of the birding sites and were delighted to chauffeur them around to help her meet her quest. She arrived with 468 species. Searching high and low, try as we might, she left Texas with an oh-so-close 499! Not to worry, though, as she and Peggy had flown on to Florida to visit Peggy's mom...where Jennifer easily picked up #500 (Wood Stork) plus four more species to seal the deal.
|Carol, Jennifer, Peggy, Tom|
|Carol, Tom, Betty, Dave on South Padre Island|
|Tom, Vicki, Lynn at South Padre Island Bird Preserve|
|Tom and Greg|
|most of the "Chambliss group" with Tom, Dave & Betty|
|Carol with the "David and Shelly Hamel group"|
|the CBC gang on the BPV pontoon boat|
|Carol with park managers Guy and Juanita|
Remember, in 1983 there was no wide spread Internet or birding list servs. He achieved his total without benefit of many recent ABA splits (Winter Wren, Whip-Poor-Will, Blue Grouse, Sage Grouse, etc.). In fact Ben helped set up NARBA (North American Rare Bird Alert), and, he developed what has become the ABA code system which prioritizes all North American birds with regard to scarcity (or ease of finding).
|Tom with Kyle, John and José at Estero Llano Grande SP|
Major membership growth in the fledgling ABA is attributed to Ben when in 1971 he was appointed to be its membership chair. According to Ben his ABA life total is in the 870's and will likely remain unbroken until Attu, when he visited 14 times, is opened once again to birders.
Early in January our good friends and neighbors, Gayle and Harvey, informed us that they had purchased an RV Supersite lot in the neighboring Retama Village. Very sad so say goodbye as they pulled out of their site but happy for them in their new location. But they're not so far away that we cannot easily walk over and visit. Our new neighbors on the opposite side of our rig are Sue and Ray from New York. Delightful folks - we just don't talk much about the Giants beating the Packers...
|we were upbeat...at the beginning of the game!|
|Ray and Sue - Giants fans but we like 'em anyway!|
|Brown Jay (at Salineno)|