2022-09-20 Tuesday at Quinta Mazatlán

I spent most of Tuesday suffering for my art, under the heat and humidity that hung like a blanket over the 20 acre bird sanctuary in McAllen Texas, called Quinta Mazatlán. This property was once a 1930s estate for the wealthy, but when it came up for sale by auction in 1998, concerned citizens convinced the City of McAllen to purchase the estate, rather than give in to the greed of developers who would have bulldozed the property to replace it with who-knows what sort of god-awful abomination.

Now, instead of another golf course, shopping mall, or apartment complex, such as those on its borders, we and the wildlife have a small haven to shelter us from the disaster of over-development that humans all-to-often do out of greed, only to regret it after it gets wiped out by the blades of ‘progress’. As Joni Mitchell wrote, “They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot.”

This was only my second visit to this sanctuary since finding it in the spring of 2021, when I enjoyed wandering on its trails and meeting the birds it hosted. As I surveyed the grounds, there were sculptures and ‘kid-friendly’ displays scattered throughout the thorn forest and other strategic places. It became clear there is an educational component to the mission in managing this sanctuary. 

As I was parking the RV and preparing for my walk into the facility, three school buses arrived. I must confess, I experienced a slight dread as I pictured hoards of elementary school aged kids running rampant, screaming, yelling, and well, being kids. But those fears were unfounded. I saw no such unruliness. Instead, there were high school aged kids under the guidance of a teacher, who I believe was a Quinta Mazatlán staff member. They were good kids on their way to adult-hood, and getting educated in the ways of nature.  

Water features can be great places to meet birds. This is especially true when in the depth of summer’s grip,  they provide relief from the heat, and a sip for the thirsty. As I explored the trails winding through the thorn forest, I found several lovely, strategically located, dripping and drooling water sources. I was lucky to find one such water source at bird ‘rush hour’, with warblers and thrushes mobbing the location, bathing, and drinking. I unfolded my little stool and sat at the trail-side and enjoyed the scene until the birds had finished their ablutions. 

My time at this sanctuary yielded images of Buff-Bellied Hummingbirds, Clay-Colored Thrushes, Eastern Cottontails, Green Jays, Plain Chachalacas, Texas Spiny Lizards, White-Eyed Vireos, Wilson’s Warblers, and Yellow Warblers.

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