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2021-01-28 Sabal Palms, Ten Days Hence

Osprey - Pandion haliaetus
The highlight of my morning was this Osprey’s capture of a fish and watching it wheel over the resaca on its way to finding a perch to enjoy its meal. It was ten days earlier when I paid my first visit to the Sabal Palm Sanctuary in Brownsville Texas. I tried to explore trails I missed last time here.
Northern Parula - Setophaga americana
This meeting was my first encounter with this lovely warbler species. 

It was a foggy morning ten days ago when I visited Sabal Palm Sanctuary for the first time. It added an air of mystery to my introduction to this amazing location. Tucked into the serpentine curves of the Rio Grande at the southernmost boundary of Texas with Mexico, it is so far south it hides behind the border fence built by the first Bush administration.

I arrived on site at 7am with a plan to walk as many of the paths I missed on my first visit as I could. If I could find a Ringed Kingfisher, all the better (I didn’t). I began by heading to the River Overlook. I could hear Sandhill Cranes in the distance and hoped I might find them, but it was not to be. I ran out of US Territory at the river and the cranes were calling still from beyond my gaze.

As with my first visit, vultures stirred from their overnight roosts atop the highest palms and other trees in the area. As imposing as their forms loomed overhead, these were not the birds I most looked forward to meeting here. At the overlook platform high above the Rio Grande, I didn’t see many birds at first. After I observed the river below, I began hearing wrens and sparrows from the brush-lined river banks. Later, lurking nearby, I found titmice, wrens and warblers, including my first meeting with a Northern Parula.

I walked to the feeding station near the outbuilding at the end of George Seanz Lane. There wasn’t much bird activity at the feeder, so I walked out to the resaca to see what action I might run into there. I arrived at the Resaca Blind in time to meet the Least Grebes again as they foraged in the nearby waters below. An Anhinga roosted in the tangle of branches overhanging the shallow water just south of the blind, but shooting through the branches and twigs into the sun was impossible. At the other side of the resaca, the South Blind offered a perspective of the water with the sun behind me, so I walked there to see what I could find. Perhaps a Ringed Kingfisher would visit me there, as the little Green Kingfisher did on my last visit.

When I reached the South Blind, it was quiet. There were only a few birds working the water’s edges, but the serenity was unmistakable. I set up my little folding stool and sat patiently, enjoying the ambiance. A splashing commotion interrupted my reverie, and I looked out over the water to see an Osprey lift off the surface with a fish in its talons. I sprung to my feet and manned my camera in time to catch the bird wheeling around towards me before reaching a high perch beyond my sight, where I’m sure it enjoyed breakfast. This was the pinnacle of my day.

Later I walked out of this enchanted forest, and my route took me past the feeding station I’d visited earlier. It seemed like a good place to rest my bones, so I sat and observed the scene before me. Before long, hungry birds began flying in to take seeds and water. I captured images while I rested, and enjoyed the birds visiting the feeders before I wrapped it up and walked back to the RV, and headed home for the day.

The birds I captured during this visit were Black-Crested Titmouse, Blue-Winged Teal, Buff-Bellied Hummingbird, Carolina Wren, Eastern Phoebe, Great Egret, Greater White-Fronted Goose, Green Jay, House Wren, Least Grebe, Long-Billed Thrasher, Northern Cardinal, Northern Parula, Orange-Crowned Warbler, Osprey, Turkey Vulture, and White-Tipped Dove.

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