After 17 hours the first day and nearly 7 hours today, my father and I have made it to Zapata, Texas where we will begin our journey through the Rio Grande Valley. We managed to do a little bird watching along the drive, most notably in Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, where we managed to find a Texas specialty, the Golden-cheeked Warbler. Additionally, we were able to view several birds along the drive approaching Zapata, including highlights of Greater Roadrunner, Harris’ Hawk, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, and Crested Caracara. Interestingly enough, in the 50 miles before we reached Zapata the frequency of all species increased dramatically. Tomorrow will hopefully yield White-collared Seedeater and many other birds common to this area.
Regarding my exploration of the value people in the area ascribe to birds in the Rio Grande Valley, I was able to talk to John Williams tonight to gain very important insights about the days ahead. He was able to talk to me about his personal experiences, owning a Bed and Breakfast catering to bird watchers, as well as put me in contact with a variety of people in the area with knowledge about local birds. My conversation with John alluded to bird watching in the Rio Grande to be a very local and social aspect of the community despite the area being known internationally as a bird watching hot spot. It will undoubtedly be very interesting to meet with locals and visitors in the coming days and I am very excited to learn more. Tomorrow begins at 6:30 with a short trip to San Ygnacio before heading to Salineno where I have heard temperatures may hit 104 at some point. I’m looking forward to it.
A brief explanation of the title; my father and I have already accepted that we will be spending long hours birding on this trip and will likely be getting to bed very late and awaking very early. However, as long as we are seeing life birds, we will embrace the tiredness and enjoy all the experiences that are sure to come. We will surely be exhausted but the memories and birds will be incredible.