2021-03-24 At Estero Llano, Even Slow Days Are Good

Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron - Nyctanassa violacea
My first stop on this tour was at Alligator Pond, and Night-Herons were there to greet me. This Wednesday tour of Estero Llano Grande State Park was only my second visit here. My first visit was on foot, but this day I rode my bike and explored a much wider area.

I first visited Estero Llano Grande State Park this year in January (2021-01-22). On that visit, I walked on my explorations, so I could only get to a few of its many trails and attractions. At 230 acres, it may not be the largest of the parks in the World Birding Center network, but there are enough trails and variety of habitats that a single visit does not suffice. For this Wednesday’s visit, I used my bicycle. Despite long stays at several locations, I traversed 3.8 miles and stayed eight hours.

There were ample bird meetings to entertain me, but it seemed to be a day to enjoy the people I met here. There’s something about being out to enjoy nature that creates bonds between people. Most of the people I met here were new to me, but there were some that recognised me from earlier meetings on South Padre Island and Santa Ana NWR.

When I finished my day, and looked at my image collection, I’d met American Alligators, Common Pauraques, Golden-Fronted Woodpeckers, a McCall’s Eastern Screech Owl, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds, Texas Spotted Whiptails (lizard), White-Tipped Doves, and Yellow-Crowned Night-Herons. I did not photograph many of the birds I encountered. Couch’s Kingbirds issued their wheezing calls all day. Ladder-Backed Woodpeckers, martins, waterfowl, chachalacas, shorebirds, ibis and other waders, kiskadees, sparrows, and warblers were among the many birds I saw this day.

The night-herons were the first birds to provide me with pictures on my morning ride into the park. I met them at Alligator Pond, where I also met the very young and the very large members of the pond’s namesake creatures. The last bird of the day was a McCall’s Eastern Screech Owl, that staff member Huck, who I’d met earlier, pointed out to me. The bird was in impossible light and obscured by vegetation. But I gave it the ol’ college try, anyway.

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