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2020-03-20 Exploring Laguna Atascosa

Green Jay - Cyanocorax yncas
Green Jays, until this meeting, had teased me with distant and poorly lit images. This group at Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge on the South Texas Coast was more cooperative.

After I left Corpus Christi, the measures against the COVID-19 outbreak began tightening. Restaurants were only allowed to seat a limited number of customers and grocers were limiting the amount of products like milk a customer could buy. I’d called a couple or restaurants on South Padre Island before leaving Corpus Christi and learned they were still doing business, but were on alert that stricter guidelines may be forthcoming. I wasn’t sure where I would land, but I started having issues with my refrigerator and to get a mobile service to work on it, I needed to be in an RV Park. I looked online at several parks, without deciding on any one in particular, but Brownsville seemed to me where I wanted to end up. If there were sights to see between Corpus Christi and Brownsville, I wanted to take those in as I travelled south.

I drove south on US-77 and just north of Harlingen, I headed east. South Padre was still on my mind, but with the uncertainty surrounding that destination, the lure of Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge entered my consciousness. And that it was on the route I was taking towards South Padre anyway, I made the wise choice to make the turn into the reserve and explorer. Even before I made it very far down the road on this drive I met Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher and a Cassin’s Sparrow on a roadside fence north of Sarita.

The 3 mile road entering the reserve was designed for a 15 mile an hour drive. Regularly spaced speed bumps added incentive to traveling slow. There weren’t very many other vehicles traveling on this road, so I was free to stop and listen while driving into the reserve.

When I met my very first Altamira Oriole I knew I’d made the right decision, but that would not be the first meeting of a new species this afternoon. Before the day was done, I was to have first meetings with Chachalaca, Common Tern, and Brown Thrasher. I will have also gotten to know better the Crested Caracara, Greater Roadrunner, Green Jay, Harris’s Hawk, Killdeer, Northern Mockingbird, Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher, Tricolored Heron, Turkey Vulture, Verdin, White-Eyed Vireo and White Ibis. As a bonus, I got to watch a mini drama play out between the roadrunner and a Mexican Ground Squirrel.

Note on ID Corrections: It has been brought to my attention that I’ve misidentified two (for sure) species in the gallery below. I’ve updated the misidentified “Brown Thrasher” images to “Long-Billed Thrasher”, but the “Common Tern” images are in fact, “Caspian Terns”. I will be updating the gallery soon to indicate the correct information. Thank you Petra Hockey for your assistance.

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