Thursday, April 15, 2010

Parrots and Valley Hepatic Tanager

Red-crowned Parrots near nest their cavity at a park near Weslaco April 4, 2010.

One this same day I found a female or first year male Hepatic Tanager in a Mulberry Tree with ripe fruit in the cemetery adjacent to the Frontera Audubon Sanctuary.
This species is a real rarity for the LRGV.  Unfortunately I was not able to obtain photos before a pick-up drove below the tree and flushed the bird.
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Valley Crops

Sugar Cane and Water melons being grown together
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Early April S. Texas visit

Work, laziness, and other factors have prevented me from updating this blog recently.  Back on April 3, after some survey work in Webb County I drove to the valley taking some back roads.  North of San Isdro on a dead end gravel road, I found this very old water cistern and well.  The well hand chopped out of solid caliche perhaps before the Civil War must have been a community effort with hundreds of man hours spent.  It measures about 6' X 6' and was at least 25 feet deep but how deep it actually was when completed is hard to know now that so much trash has been dumped into it.    I can only imagine the sweat and toll it took the diggers with pick-axes and iron rods to dig a hole so deep into solid rock, and the many buckets of debris that were pulled up by hand to help construct the containment tanks above.    Real work back then. One can only wonder what relics lie below that modern day garbage.  In the dusty, dry mesquite desert of the 1800's, this well and the associated cisterns and water troughs must surely have been an oasis.  Indeed there are small tell-tale signs that houses and other buildings were nearby from the old sun glazed glass shards spread about as well as the old home made adobe bricks.

   That afternoon, after I had arrived at Weslaco, I spent a dry windy few hours at Santa Ana NWR.  That long hike down to the Resaca and Oriole Trails would have been very lack luster had it not been for this butterfly.  It is a Dark Kite Swallowtail and by all accounts this photo documents it as only the 4-5th record for the United States.  It is a very tropical insect.  I actually thought it was something else at the time until corrected later.  Gorgeous animal and a "lifer" for me.   There were very few birds to be seen and the famous Valley winds were at their peak, so I just enjoyed the rest of the afternoon at the Vali-Ho Motel relaxing.  I very much enjoyed the plant and tree nursery just down the street.  And then there was Chavez the tuna loving cat to pay a visit.