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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Frontera Audubon and the Roma Bluffs

 A bit of the Frontera Audubon grounds
as lovely a goof-off spot as one can imagine
not my photo
I passed the first half of today birding again, at the Frontera Audubon Center. I was looking for Groove-billed Ani which would have been a lifer for me, but instead as I strolled along the soft trails, I heard loud wheezy whistl-ee calls overhead. I looked up to see a large flock composed of birds of the one shown here... a Fulvous Whistling Duck.

I knew they weren't Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, because there were no big black and white wing patches or black bellies. YAY! Yes, they are a Lifer for me, so that's one so far for today.

There were other fun birds too.

Nice Black-throated GreenWarboer, not showing
the black throat as it's a female or a juvenile male
Blue-headed Vireo - the head is slate blue and it has those nice 'spectacles'
And I walked across this long wooden bridge/walkway several times. Such a pretty bridge.

A quarter of the way across the bridge, I was rewarded with an I-don't-see-this-species-every-year sight: a Solitary Sandpiper.
Solitary, & noisy little creature
The same huge pond also had some Black-bellied Whistling Ducks
A lovely pair of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks
Oh, and let us not forget this uncomfortably weird little Mexican Hairstreak, a type of tiny butterfly.

 Eewwww. By the way, that little flutterby is barely an inch in size.

Before leaving Frontera Audubon, I added three birds I saw: the Black-throated Green Warbler, Blue-headed Vireo and the Solitary Sandpiper (whoo hoooo!). I forgot to add the Fulvous-whistling duckies.
Who doesn't love marking a B3 - Big Birdie Board! 
I gave up trying to find the Groove-billed Ani around noon. I headed up-valley to see a spot I have never visited before but heard about this week: the Roma Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge. Took a couple of hours to get over there. When I arrived at the town of Roma, I wasn't at all sure where the heck the Birding Center might be located.
Nice, but not a birding center that I can tell...
The buildings in the town of Roma are registered National Historical Landmarks
Aha, now we're talking!
The Visitor Center was quite small and had a cheery & welcoming lady working there. She answered questions and was helpful getting me relatively oriented with what-the-heck this particular 'world birding center' was exactly. She escorted me out back to see the gardens of the v. interesting historic building.
Grand old grounds with delightful cobbled paving
I think the garden dates back to the late 19th century
Not sure the purpose of this artful stonework is, but it's pretty
The back area had several bird feeders, and even a couple of water features and tons, I mean tons of House Sparrows. Ooooo if I had a net... I wasn't feeling like I was going to see much and then I spotted a species I have seen before but never before so close or approachable.
Audubon's Oriole
Wow... I was flabberghasted. Normally when I see Audubons they are flying away or quite distant yet here was one at a feeder, as if it didn't realize what a teaser of a heart-breaker it is.
These are the first ever photos of the species for me. Am v. happy!
There were other birds, American Goldfinches, Chipping Sparrows and such, not rare but enjoyable.
Colorful Cardinal
Orange-crowned Warbler
Northern Mockingbird scolding me
Inside the Barquito Oyster Bar - see the 10 gal hat?
That's so you know this is TEXAS!
When the mockingbird tells you off, it's time to move along. Got back to my rental car and began an iPhone hunt for a lunch spot. A tap at the car window, and I looked up to see the lady from the Visitor Center. She asked if I'd care to accompany her to lunch. Yay, a nice person to have lunch with! We caravaned our cars, and we ended up at a Roma restaurant named, Barquito Oyster Bar.

My first choice for chow on the interesting menu was Oysters - because, you know, when in Roma... My second menu pick was local Texas quail, alas, both had run out. So my new friend Lisa and I had salads along with a marvelous chat.

Lisa is living la vida dolce, traveling around the U. S. of A., working here and there and enjoying life. She is currently working a short time at the Roma Bluffs Visitor Center, and she has a stint coming up at the National Park that holds my heart, Yellowstone National Park - the oldest and the BEST, baby! Told Lisa about my dreams of traveling around the country and as a person doing so first hand, she offered encouragement. Really, hearing about her adventures made me want even more of my own.

Totally enjoyed lunching with Lisa. We exchanged email addresses so maybe someday I can meet up with her on the road.

I've decided one of these days I will be brave and invite a likely friendly stranger to lunch in an impromptu manner. How courageous was Lisa to ask a stranger ('moi') to lunch? I mean, not like I bite or anything, but it does take gumption to put one's self on the line and utter those simple words, "Would you like to go grab a bite?"

After the meal, Lisa again caravaned with me, to show me the local of the actual 'bluffs' and then drove off. Thanks again Lisa, it was a pleasure to meet you!

Entrance to the Bluffs
Just a little further past the stone doorway
TADA - the spacious and pretty overlook
The Roma Bluffs are cliffs overhanging the Rio Grande River, and across on the other shore you can see El Mexico, as far as the eye can see.
View of  El Rio Bravo (The Mexican side of the river) and the Rio Grande (the US side) 
One of the international bridges that links Texas with Mexico
The river was sadly, totally free of Red-billed Pigeons and/or Masked Ducks...
The river held no birds other than a few coots, but that's OK, I got my lifer Fulvous Whistling Duck this morning and better than that, a new friend, so I'm happy. I think I'll call it a day.

1 comment:

  1. As always, delightful trip for me. Thank you.
    Oddly you should mention the absence of pigeons; I just viewed a lovely video of pigeons by the shoreline of a lake with turtles and to my surprise the turtle snatched the pigeon & drug it under the water.
    Who knew?

    PS: The turtle wasnt any bigger than the bird.