Monday, May 24, 2010

Bentson-Rio Grande Valley State Park

No birding trip to south Texas would be complete with out a visit to the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. Bentsen is comprised of 760 acres of wetland, scrub brush, riparian and woodland habitat. It is surrounded by 1900 acres of protected native habitat, 1700 acres of which are Federal Refuge lands.
Bentsen is located on the Rio Grande River. Centuries worth of Rio Grande River flooding has made the soil more hospitable, making it possible for large tracks of floodplain forest to flourish in the park, especially near the river. Some of the border markers, that fix the official border between the US and Mexico, are no longer very close to the Rio Grande demonstrating how the path of the river has changed over time.
Bentsen is also the headquarters for the World Bird Center. The World Birding Center is an organization that promotes conservation and ecotourism, centered primarily around birds, in the Rio Grande Valley. The WBC had many blinds and feeders set up in Benson to attract birds like this golden-fronted woodpecker.
Due to large tracks of different types of habitat Bentsen is a magnet for many of the different south Texas and northern Mexican specialty birds such as the Altamira Oriole.
The Rio Grande Valley is one of the best spots in the United States to go birding. The reason is because of the variety of birds. Many birds either spend the winter in the area or pass through while they migrate south, or back north. Besides the spectacular variety that you see during migration the Rio Grande is also the northern edge of the range of many different tropical birds. These birds are usually very colorful like this great kiskadee.
Bentsen is not only about the birds though. Javelina's take advantage of seeds that spill from the many feeders in the park. Even though they may look like it Javelina are not pics. Javelina are peccaries. Peccaries are native to North, South and Central America and have several differences from pigs originated from Europe, Asia and Africa.
Around the visitors center the staff has planted many native flowering plants in order to help attract humming birds and butterflies. Small ponds and pools in the park provide excellent habitat for dragonfly larva, some of which emerge as colorful adults like this red saddlebags.
If you are very lucky you may get a peek at one of the secretive cats that live in and around the park. Bobcats, like this young one that was crossing the road with its mother, are the most common wild cat in North America. Their smaller size, stealthy movement and the fact that they are crepuscular, active mostly at dusk and dawn, help keep them hidden from most people. This is the first wild cat that I have ever seen or photographed, a lifer. Michelle was not there to see them but she got her chance to see her first wild cat later in the trip.


Maude Lynn said...

Fantastic pictures! This looks like a really neat place to visit.

sweetbay said...

Beautiful photos. That's great that you got to see and photograph a Bobcat! This park is a real wildlife mecca.

Sylvia K said...

What a terrific trip! And I love the shot of the Bobcat! How fun is that! And, of course, your bird shots are breathtaking! What a beautiful part of all of our world! Have a great week!


"Lillagul" said...

Fun to see all the lovely birds that we don´t have in Sweden.
Just loved that Golden-fronted Woodpecker and what great color on the Altamira Oriole and on the yellow one as well :)
Thought it was Pumba on the picture :)
But then I readed what it was :)
Great shot on the Dragonfly and on the rear end of the Bobcat :)

Dirkjogt said...

Great shots, what a fantastic place to visit! Thanks for sharing this.

EG CameraGirl said...

You do take photos of a wide variety of birds and other critters!

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

EB: Wonderful captures and some neat birds. I saw that woodpecker in Mexico and didn't know the name.

Catherine said...

I have seen some of these birds here in Mexico - what beautiful close-ups!

LadyFi said...

Wow - bobcats! And masses of colourful birds. What a wonderful visit.

Regina said...

Amazing and wonderful!

Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

Do Javelinas and Bob cats live peacefully?

This is the first time I have heard about Javelinas.