Welcome to my world!

Backyard Birding in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas:
Surrounded by great birding destinations, our favorite patch is still the backyard (or the front), where we've seen more than 270 species of birds. Sit awhile, and watch the river and yard with us!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

From the Window

The river was obscured by fog Tuesday morning when I first climbed the stairs and looked out our living room windows. Stepping onto the porch, I glanced down at the pathway leading to the stairs and saw something small and brown scurry along the sidewalk. Darting quickly into the dead leaves under the papayas that froze last week was not a little brown mouse--but a Winter Wren! We see lots of Carolina and Bewick's Wrens but not so many Winter Wrens. In fact, I think this was a first for our yard! I will have to find my list and check to make sure--if it is a first, that makes the list about 254 or so. How exciting.

(Last spring a Carolina Wren flew into the living room from the open porch door and perched by the window on the back of a loveseat. It threw its head back and sang and sang, apparently to another wren that was right outside in a live oak tree. When it tried to find a way out, it couldn't seem to find the door. After perching on several window sills and flying to the ceiling beam, it stopped and resumed its song. Finally, I tiptoed past it to open the window closest to the live oak, and it flew away.

This morning I awoke early when it was still dark and watched the sky and river from the wren's loveseat by the window, a gradual lightening as the river and the sky turned from a dark slate to a fog-colored gray--not foggy like yesterday but overcast. The wind had blown all night, covering up the sounds of night birds (Great Horned Owls and Screech-owls and Pauraques). I was watching the river bank in hopes of seeing the Bobcat I'd seen there yesterday. Frightened by a kayaker, it had bounded up the bank, paused for a while, and then disappeared into the brush. I don't think the man in the banana-colored kayak saw the bobcat at all, hiding as it must have been in the grasses at the edge of the water (the tide was very low) or maybe getting a drink. I would not have seen it if I hadn't been watching the kayaker. I wish I had had my camera.

A few years ago an ocelot appeared one summer evening in the grass beyond the bank, flipping its tail as it lay among the tall grasses. I watched that tail (all I could see of the cat at first) for about ten minutes, flipping slowly up and down just like the tail of a slightly annoyed house cat. Because it didn't look quite like the tail of a bobcat, I was curious and continued watching through my scope until the rare cat stood up, looked around, and slowly walked into thicker brush. I was amazed and honored to have such a visitor just across the river from my yard.

For many miles to the north of the spot where the Ocelot was, the land is part of a large ranch. The brush just beyond the river is no longer as thick as it was then. The Corps of Engineers who take care of the Arroyo dredged it shortly after our ocelot encounter and bulldozed that part of the bank to reestablish a berm.

We have seen all sorts of interesting animals in brush there: deer (with Groove-billed Anis riding on their antlers and backs, eating ticks--it's neat what you can see with a good scope); coyotes; javelinas; nilgai (a kind of imported exotic antelope that inhabits parts of the ranchland); and strangely, ostriches. There's a fence there that all sorts of birds like to perch on--that's where the Ringed Kingfisher I took a photo of a couple of days ago was. Other birds we have seen on the fence: Osprey (see photo), Great Horned Owl, Barn Owl, White-tailed Kite, White-tailed Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Crested Caracara, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Harris's Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks. And many others--thinking of them is so much fun I may start a list of "Birds Seen on the Fence Across the Arroyo"!

1 comment:

KaHolly said...

You are in such a perfect spot for "sightseeing" wildlife. I'd be at the window all of the time! It would be like an obsession! Love your storytelling skills. ~karen