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In The Field – Lower Rio Grande Valley

March 9, 2018
Plain Chachalaca (Ortalis vetula)

© – Plain Chachalaca (Ortalis vetula)

Photo shooting opportunities have been few and far between so far this year.  January was a complete shutout.  February was moving that way too.  I finally tore myself away from work and the hassles of life and took what I had hoped to be an extended weekend down in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.  Subject matter desired: Butterflies.  Leave Thursday night, return Monday afternoon.


As they say, Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

Altamira Oriole (Icterus gularis)

© – Altamira Oriole (Icterus gularis)

It had been so long since I’d been out on a photo trip I really forgot how to prepare.  That cost me the chance to be in the field Friday morning.  I was nearly an hour down the road when I realized that my snake boots, tripod, and a couple of other key pieces was still at my residence.  Good job, Jim.  With the clock against me and stormy weather on the horizon, I pushed back my lodging reservations a night and got started early the next morning.

The following morning I got back on the road, but the weather still was not cooperative.  Rain and wind all the way down to the Valley.  Throughout the weekend the wind never went away.  The sun did finally come out Friday afternoon.  But by Sunday morning the clouds were back and the car was packed.

The plan had been to hit about six different places, evenly divided between state parks and other natural areas.  It turned out to be all state parks all the time.

Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus)

© – Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus)

Some quick thoughts:

  • Estero Llano Grande SP:  Nice park.  Great butterfly walk on Friday afternoon.  Wind made butterfly photography nearly impossible.  But the bird life was abundant and I look forward to my return trip.
  • Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley SP:  Great to return to this park.  Feeders were out.  Birds were good.  Got my life list Altamira Oriole and my first portfolio-worthy Great Kiskadee shots.  More about Kiskadees in a future blog post.
  • Resaca de la Palma SP:  I had forgotten how detached this park was from the rest of the Valley sites that we usually visit.  So much so that by the time I got out there the last tram was getting ready to leave and I wasn’t up for a long walk back (and taking the chance that we’d get locked inside the park).  The wind was too high for butterflies and bird life was pretty much absent.  This is still a park I’d like to get back to in an effort to conquer all of the trails on.

I’m not one to gush about overnight accomodations, but I had a wonderful lodging experience at the Residence Inn in McAllen.  I like the Residence Inn brand when I’m on the road.  Especially if I’m going to be in a place for more than a few days.  This location was everything I expect from Residence Inn–and a clean, comfortable home away from home.

What made this one special?  Out the front door:  Olive Garden.  Out the side door:  A big H-E-B.  Awesome staff.  Great hot breakfast in the morning.  This is definitely where we will stay the next time we return to the Valley.

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