Saturday, December 25, 2010

Big Bend Trip 3

On Saturday we were on our deck by 5:00 a.m. admiring the most spectacular display of stars that either of us had seen in years. A couple of hours later, we were treated to a beautiful dawn view of the Window.

I went for an early morning walk but saw only a Black-crested Titmouse and a solitary Cactus Wren.

At 9:00 we drove down out of the Chisos Mountains and headed for Rio Grande Village.

The desert was glorious in the morning light and we passed several Greater Roadrunners along the road.

The cottonwoods in the RG campground were something to see, although few birds were evident except Yellow-rumped Warblers and House Finches.


We spent an hour exploring the Nature Trail, which winds across pools, through reeds and up onto rocky desert.  

The water had only a Pied-billed Grebe and two American Coots but the reeds were busy with Bewick's Wren, Rock Wren and Verdins.

Rock Wren

We walked down to the edge of the Rio Grande, where a score of American Pipits were grazing among the pebbles.

We drove up the road to Daniel's Ranch, another site dotted with cottonwoods and situated on the banks of the Rio Grande.


There we had lunch in the company of Northern Cardinals, Pyrrhuloxias and a very friendly Common Raven.

The cottonwoods had Golden-fronted Woodpeckers and an American Kestrel.

They also had Say's Phoebe and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.

In mid-afternoon we left the area, stopping to admire a juvenile Prairie Falcon that was hunting by the wayside. After a brief an unproductive visit to Dugout Wells, we headed back past the Chisos and up to the Sam Nail Ranch.  


The land at the ranch was extremely dry and there was very little water at the drip, but even this small amount of water was enough to bring in some birds. So before heading back to the Chisos Basin, we sat for half-an-hour watching a succession of thirsty visitors: Hermit Thrushes, Northern Cardinals, Pyrrhuloxias, White-crowned and Black-throated Sparrows, and Northern Mockingbirds.

Overall our first full day in the park had not been as productive of birds as we had had hoped. However, the beauty of the landscape more than made up for the comparative lack of birds and other wildlife.


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