Wednesday, January 30. Quality Inn, Kingsville, Texas
57 degrees at 7:00 am. Had breakfast and drove back to the King Ranch visitor's center for our 4.5 hours bird watching tour with a guide and 4 guys who were knowledgeable birders.
We had an absolutely wonderful day of birding here. Many of the over 50 bird species we saw, we had seen before, like some Northern Shoveler, pintail, and blue teal ducks, but most were new to us. As I said in this blog before, many birds can only be found in this part of Texas, as they are really Mexican birds that have come north. A couple birds were sub-species of ones we know, like the black crested titmouse and the bronzed cowbird with red eyes. One of the most beautiful birds I have ever seen, in the wild, is the green jay---it is green, blue, yellow, and black, the size of a blue jay, and behaves like one.
The other bird I had hoped to see was the Pyrrhuloxia--or locally called the desert cardinal--we saw just one male in the trees at the beginning of the tour. It is similar in looks to a cardinal, but is
grey and red and has more of a pointed crest and thicker beak.
We also wanted to see the crested caracara--they are the size of a vulture but have bright yellow beaks, almost parrot like, with white bald-eagle-like feathers on their heads. We saw maybe 25+ of them on the ground in the fields around the cattle and up in the trees.
We watched a cooper's hawk that was sitting on a clump of prickly pear cactus take off after a cactus wren also in the cactus. It, fortunately, out maneuvered the hawk.
The woman who guided the tour took us to a spot where they have a bird feeder and put out their special mix designed to attract the green jays. We then waited and were rewarded with green jays, Audubon’s orioles, cardinals, more pyrrhuloxia, long-billed thrashers, and, of course, sparrows.
In the wetland area of the ranch, we saw a snipe, a sora, yellow-legs, and other kinds of birds--too many to list. As we were driven around, we also saw wild turkeys, a couple groups of wild javelinas, and several good sized, many pronged, bucks.
We returned to the visitor's center,
looked around at the few displays, and purchased some T-shirts. We then headed back into town to eat lunch at "Young's Pizza" where we were told served very good sandwiches and other lunch stuff. It is also a popular hang-out for the Texas A&M students from the nearby very attractive campus. Lunch was so noteworthy that I can't even remember what I had--just that it was expensive for what it was and not particularly tasty.
We stopped by the small KingMuseum located in a rehabbed ice house in downtown Kingsville and looked around inside. The only thing I thought was worth the stop was a video of the inside of the King Ranch house where there are several Tiffany glass windows and lots of rooms, especially since we weren’t allowed to actually tour the building. Old cars, buggies, and wagons, as well as great photos of the King Ranch throughout time, were on the main floor. More pictures and stuff were on the 2nd floor, but there was no elevator, and so with Valerie's stress fracture we decided to decline climbing the steps.
Got gas before leaving town at $3.09 per gal and she took 16 gals. We
then drove down highway 77 and crossed at the town of Rivera on 285 to highway 281 and then drove about 100 miles further south to an RV park in the crossroad community of Linn to stay for a couple of nights. $22 per night for full hook-ups with WiFi.
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