Pancho Villa State Park, NEW MEXICO/2 new birds/2 new butterflies!
Texas week 6 (2-8 thru 2-14)
Sunday, 2/8 was spent relaxing and talking to two different MI campers (blueberry growers from Holland, MI), then another from Saginaw, MI (Rich and Kathy Sanchez). Luke (from TX) came by to talk to us some more with his wife Marilyn. We also walked the dirt road in the Chisos Mtns to the water/septic place. I saw White-throated Swifts flying around Casa Grande, but they were too far away for a picture.
Monday we met Dave and “Butch”/Diane from Midland, MI (3 in a row from MI!) and Butch (a lady) is a crazier birder than I! David said we're both crazy :) She doesn't have a life list numbered (just checks in her book), but she asked me “have you ever heard of Magee Marsh?”. David looked at me and smiled. I told her I volunteer for the Black Swamp Bird Observatory Spring and Fall banding program and also work/volunteer at the festival in May each year. She has been to the festival 3 times and LOVES Magee Marsh, OH. I hope I get to see her there this year. I invited her/told her about the Midwest Birding Symposium in Bay City, MI in September, which I am also attending with my birder friends. We also made reservations for Poncho Villa State Park for Thursday and Friday night (leaving Big Bend Wednesday and sleeping on the road that night).
A funny thing happened on Monday night. I was coughing most of the night so I was just going back to sleep about 3am and I heard “clippity clop, clippity clop” like horses. I thought I was dreaming! David went out the next morning and the neighbors also heard the same thing, and there was a big pile of poop behind their trailer. One guy said it was horse poop, and the other said donkey :). After an hour of discussing it, I talked to the cleaning person at the park and she said the resident burros escaped their pen last night and they were told to go on POOP patrol, and they cleaned up every bit. The burros walked down the road to the campground. LOL.
We walked over 2-1/2 miles to the oasis at Cattail Falls Trail on Tuesday (our last day at Big Bend and it was in the 70's). Festus met a girl doggy named Ginger and they had fun running around, chasing each other, and getting muddy in the little bit of water that was at the oasis. He also found a SNAKE, but David couldn't get a picture of it (thank God it wasn't a Rattlesnake). I ID'd my 2nd & 3rd new butterflies..Gray Ministreak and West Coast Lady! First Ministreak for me! AND a new bird – a Red-Napped Sapsucker! That's #5!!! 5 new birds in 6 weeks...not bad! 2 blisters to boot :).
Wednesday morning at 10:20am, we said goodbye to Luke and his wife Marilyn from Texas, and Mike from New York. We drove through Alpine, TX where I had to have blood taken for my Cumadin level at Big Bend Regional Hospital, then lunch at Penny's Diner (no matches Dave!). I saw Texas Bluebonnets blooming outside of Terlingua! We got on the road around 2pm and couldn't believe the TUMBLEWEEDS blowing in front of us (our trailer skirt was cracked, and the high winds made it break more). Drove SR-90 up to Van Horn, TX, where there was a laundromat and it was dark when we got done. David drove some more to a Flying J truck stop past El Paso, TX (what a HUGE TOWN!!) and we had a Denny's meal, then drove 2 miles over the New Mexico border to the Rest Area/Visitor Center and went to sleep. Festus was done traveling for the day!
David got information on New Mexico and coffee from the Visitor Center Thursday morning, then we drove SR-9 for a few hours drive to get to Pancho Villa State Park. He drove 473 miles from leaving Big Bend to Pancho Villa! There are so many cacti there at each parking spot in Columbus, NM. This park is famous in history because it was the U.S.'s first operational airbase in 1916! After setting up, we took a drive to see the town...kinda sad – not a lot of commerce and falling down houses. The Mexico border is just 4 miles away. We talked to a lady who told us about the party at the “Pink House” over the border (we are 4 miles from it) and they serve free food and MARGARITTA'S (for David) on Friday. We started to take Festus for a walk that night before dark and David had a flat tire, so he fixed it because he is so prepared with a tire repair kit! We haven't had any truck problems in 3 years and this one was minor. He did switch out the tire (had a bolt in it) with his spare.
On Friday, he tried to get the spare tire mounted on the original rim and no one in Columbus could do it. After breakfast, we took the 30 mile drive to Deming, first to Walmart (they don't remount tires), but they sent us to Big O who did. No one can get the same tire til next week. It will be okay til we get home and get the same tire. After that, we decided to visit the animal shelter close by to see if Festus wants a brother or sister (smaller than him, no hair Chihuahua). They had a lot to choose from...one was a Mama that was very timid in the back of the cage and we put her and Festus in the play yard and she just cowered. Another was her cell-mate and another female was last. He didn't pay any attention to any of them so we left. We think he remembered the shelter he came from and thought we were going to leave him. Oh well, we're happy with him. On the way out, I got an awesome shot of my first JACKRABBIT!!
I looked at the New Mexico birding guide and we were close to the Mountain View Cemetery, so after I got my directions mixed up (East and West), David found the cemetery and I was hoping to see the Juniper Titmouse that was there. We saw lots of birds (David found a Pink-sided Junco and a Black Phoebe), but the Titmice are so fast and secretive, I didn't get a picture. I did see a RED/BLACK woodpecker and knew it was new, so he drove around until I got a very cropped picture and found out it was a Red-shafted Northern Flicker! Very beautiful! We had a Mexican lunch and were so full, we didn't need to have dinner. No matches for Dave T! I also got a shot of a Juvenile Harris' Hawk on the way home.
We wished each other Happy Valentines Day on Facebook, had breakfast, then took a drive West (the only direction we haven't been from here). The first bird he found was a Great Horned Owl in a Cottonwood canopy! I got a shot of a nice Red-tailed Hawk carrying a stick/building a nest in the same canopy! It's hard to bird at 40 miles per hour! We saw Sandhill Cranes in alfalfa and some exotic mammals, then drove to Rockhound State Park (where we may or may not stay) that are in the mountains. After we left there, David spotted Gambel's Quail on the road out and got some nice pictures! Other birds seen this week are: Spotted Towhee (Big Bend NP), Pancho Villa – resident Lark Buntings (hundreds!), Curve-billed Thrasher, lots of White-winged Doves, lots of Loggerhead Shrikes, and our first American Robin, believe it or NOT (cemetery). We took Festus for a walk before dark on Saturday and a PIT BULL came charging out of a camper and David had to hoist our doggie up and he almost got him in the face!
Discussing where to go next...Rodeo NM has some RV parks. That sounds good!
week 6 – David drove 788 miles this week! TWO new birds – #5 Red-naped Sapsucker @ Cattail Falls Trail, Big Bend NP; #6 – Red-shafted Northern Flicker @ Mountain View Cemetery in Deming, NM! Two new butterflies – West Coast Lady and Gray Ministreak (both Big Bend!).