On my recent teaching trip to the Rio Grande Valley Quilt Guild and the Midland Quilt Guild, I had the opportunity to explore in both areas. As luck would have it, my time with the first guild coincided with the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival and I was able to go on two birding field trips. This part of Texas is practically in Mexico and is an amazing place for birding. Several of the native species cannot be found anywhere else in the USA. I went to the Sabal Palm Sanctuary where there was a beautiful old plantation home and the largest remaining area of sabal palm forest in Texas.
I also visited Estero Llano State Park, Weslaco (pictured above), and Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Mission. My camera can’t do justice to the beautiful birds but I couldn’t resist sharing a couple of shots. The Green Jays are so vibrant in color and the Common Pauraque so extraordinary in its camouflage.
The second part of my trip was teaching in Midland then a 250 mile drive south to Big Bend National Park. This is a very remote and magnificent place including three distinct habitats – the mountainous Chisos Basin, the Chihuahuan Desert and the Rio Grande River. On the southwest side of the park is the spectacular Santa Elena Canyon with 1,500 ft high cliffs through which the Rio Grande river flows. On the southeast side there are spectacular views of El Pico and the Sierra del Carmen mountain range which turns pink at sunset. Both have camp grounds near the river that are great places for birding.
I spent two nights in the Chisos Basin in a little cottage with stone flags on the floor. My hike up the Lost Mine Trail now ranks in my top 10 all time hikes. The views were absolutely breathtaking and I loved it.