|site 215 counter-clockwise from lower right: 2010, 2012, 2013|
We were delighted to find that Ray and Sue, along with “the boys”, their four-legged companions Mickey and Jerry, are still our next door neighbors. Mickey and Jerry had no trouble remembering that we carry dog treats. It's difficult for Ray and Sue to take the boys walks without Mickey or Jerry straining their leashes toward our site, ever hopeful of a doggy treat.
New this year, a few sites over, are Dick and Sally who are, like us, pretty serious birders. Quite evident when Sally asked us, "Have there been any reliable sightings of White-collared Seedeaters lately?" It turned out that they both graduated from Neenah High School and that Dick is a graduate of Lawrence University.
|friends Anne and Don at South Padre Island World Birding Center|
This year we don't see nearly as many of our WI birding friends lining up plans to visit the RGV but shortly after our arrival, we got word that Greg Seegert would again be in the area. We managed a day birding with him at Estero Llano Grande State Park although his plans to travel more extensively in the area made it difficult for us to join him. Greg thinks nothing at all about driving insane distances in a short period of time...something we've kind of gotten away from doing.
|Green Jays in Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park|
|American Woodcock sneaking away from beneath our RV|
|Harvey and Gayle (top), Karen and Jerry - Christmas Eve|
The long and short of it was that once GMC customer service got involved, the needed repairs were performed. Under warranty. But the whole process took well over a week and a half and included a rental truck (GMC’s nickel). In the end the problem was resolved due to GMC's diligence (i.e., repeatedly holding the local dealer's feet to the fire). The final cost of repairs was very close to $2,000! Cudos to GMC for its complete coverage. Suffice to say we'll be trying a different dealership in the Valley for minor work like oil changes, etc.
|Great Blue Heron|
|Little Blue Heron|
All too quickly the first of the year rolled around. On January 1 we spent the day with Dick and Sally propping up a start to our 2013 annual bird list. Birders always look forward to New Year’s Day when they can start their annual bird lists all over again. Naturally, when birding, food is never far behind which mandated a stop at P.F. Chang’s.
|resident Cooper's Hawk in our RV park|
|birthday party gathering at our place to celebrate Ray's (yellow shirt) B-Day|
Another chase of sorts took place in late January when we spent an entire day traveling with Dick and Sally to the city of Laredo in search of the mythical White-collared Seedeater. "Mythical" because after several failed attempts during the past three years to find one in the U.S. we had pretty much decided that people who do see them are simply perpetuating a hoax. We have seen them in Mexico where they are typically found, but, small populations have sprung up along the Rio Grande border in Texas therefore making the species “countable” as ABA birds. Having failed on numerous occasions searching at other locations, we tried distant Laredo...where we again (insert appropriate curse words) missed seeing any. Therefore the bird remain mythical to us.
|Kowa iPhone 4/4s adapter and mounted to our scope|
Tom has added a few toys to his collection. One is a very small Bluetooth stereo speaker, a Jawbone's "Jambox". This was our Christmas gift to ourselves. Perfect for streaming music wirelessly in our RV. Tom also acquired a short VGA cable to directly wire his laptop to our HD TV. It works well for movie playback plus displaying programs run from his laptop.
The last and most recent item was from Eagle Optics, a Kowa adapter that attaches our iPhone 4 to the eyepiece of our spotting scope. Prior to this Tom had pretty good luck capturing video clips by hand-holding our iPhone to the eyepiece. Now, however, with this gem, he no longer frets about balancing the iPhone "just so" while has his hands are now free to pan, zoom and focus the scope. The whole process is far less stressful and far more productive! And so far, his video results have proved his point about needing one!
Our most recent visitors from Wisconsin, were Peter and Cynthia. They've been in the Valley in years past to visit Cynthia's parents who, like ourselves, are Winter Texans. Cynthia and Peter stopped over for an evening to view our pictures from Ecuador since they'll be part of a group we’re taking into the Amazon Basin in 2014.
|Tom, pilot, and Dick|
|American Alligator, South Padre Island|
|Border Patrol air boat, Rio Grande River at Salineno|
|Red Slider Turtle closeup|