Along the Natchez Trace

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A Morning at Salineno

We've had cold, rainy weather down here in the Valley...   40's at night and lucky to get into the low 50's during the day.  Rain isn't exactly rain...  more a drizzle that is cold, wet and gloomy.  But today, which might be the best day of the week, showed some blue in the sky and promise of sunshine.

We decided to head the 70 or so miles west to Salineno.....  a parcel of land with wonderful birds that are only seen in the very southern part of Texas, and the USA.  We've been here several times in the past so had the foresight to stop along the way and buy a couple bags of oranges and a pail of peanut butter to take along.  

There is no entry fee, but donations are appreciated and that could be either monetary or "goods".  There are 2 couples, each living in their motorhomes, volunteering at this site this winter.  They alternate 2 days on/2 days off.....  not only keeping the bird feeders filled and as interpretive hosts to the hundreds of "guests" (like ourselves), but also have a list of other projects (brush clearing, general maintenance etc) to do in their "spare" time.

Today we met Judy and Larry Geiger.  This is their first gig as US Fish and Wildlife volunteers, but they have spent many years at Goose Island, several other Texas State Parks, and doing bird surveys at Aransas NWR.  It didn't take us long to know that they are excellent birders.

I don't know why I didn't take a photo or two of their arrangement of chairs that make sure each of their visitors are comfortable....  maybe we'll make it back there before we leave the Valley.

But...  we knew we were sure to see several species of birds...

I'll readily admit that the Green Jay is one of my favorites...
What's not to love about this bird?
I love color...  I love the vibrancy and contrast...  
I didn't get a shot of the tail as it's flying, but even that is a gorgeous fan of color.  And...  only seen in this part of the USA!

The Kiskadees are another bird seen only in this part of the States....
In 2002, when Bill & I first came to the Valley, Steve, one of the "brown shirts (staff)" told us to listen for one of those "squeaky" toys that dogs play with.  Sure 'nuff.....  we quickly became familiar with the Kiskadees.

Another bird I love, but is also quite familiar to us...
The Common Yellowthroat
Not a good shot of him....  but I can almost hear the "Witchedy, Witchedy" that I'm so used to...  everywhere from Maine to...... ?   Well...  at least Texas!

And a bird I've seen in the past but not so familiar with... 
The Golden-crowned Warbler
If you're expecting to see his golden crown, trust me...  you won't.  
Truth is, if I were out birding by myself, I probably wouldn't have IDed him...   but we had several experts all around us, so he is what he is.

And, to my surprise....
This gorgeous Northern Cardinal
I know these guys are here, but it's always such a pleasure to see them again.
As I've written before, this ole Buckeye Girl loves seeing familiar Ohio things, and the cardinal is Ohio's State bird.

Now...  the good stuff..... 
 Audubon's Oriole
Apparently only 3 (males) are around this site this winter.  But their yellow bodies sure stand out!  

And...  what everyone who comes here wants to see...
The Altamira Oriole
Another bird that's only in this very tip of the USA
Look close, though....  check out the black area below his eye...  extending into this throat area....

Now...  here's the...
Hooded Oriole
Actually he's about 2" smaller than the Altamira, but the colors are quite similar.
But look at the black area below his eye....  
I knew you'd see the difference.

We saw several other species of birds while there...  the Ladder-back woodpecker, the Golden-fronted woodpecker, and the Black-crested Titmouse to name a few.....  but after 3 hours or so of sitting there I started to get chilled clear through.  

We said our goodbyes to Judy and Larry....  and headed down the driveway...  a short walk to the Rio Grande River.....
It always gives me a funny feeling to realize that Mexico is just across the river....
A whole 'nuther country!  A different language, different customs....  and now it takes a passport to even step ashore.  Oh well....

I'll enjoy the birds that are here...  and know that they can fly back and forth as they wish.....

We'll be in the Valley only a couple more weeks so I don't know if we'll get back up this way or not...  but I'm always so happy when we do.

That's All For Today!


  1. A birder watcher's treat for sure. Don't know if I'll ever make it back to 'the valley', but if I do I'll have to check out that place.

  2. Great shots-I really have to work on my bird pictures:)

  3. Wow, colorful beautiful birds, and standing by the Rio Grande! I see these places you name in your pictures in the news or on the news sometimes, where you visit, but makes it more personal to read a blog and see pictures of those places you post with personal stories and experiences there.

  4. What a treat to see so many colorful birds in one place! One of these days we're going to make the trip to Texas in our RV.

  5. Awesome bird pictures, keep warm there.

  6. I like the Green Jay’s too. They’re loud and obnoxious, just like a Jay should be.

  7. All good stuff. The green jay puts the blue jay all to shame. And the northern cardinal remains a knockout.

  8. I'd love to see a green jay. Such an unusual color, most of the prettiest birds have red or yellow, but not green. Great shots, as usual. :)

  9. I'm back from little break, and Happy New Year to you! I LOVED seeing all the beautiful birds, especially the different kinds of Orioles. Come summer, we've been blessed with seeing the Baltimore Orioles, but I've also seen the Orchard Oriole here, and the Bullock's at times - not every year.