Tricolored Heron on South Padre Island
Today was my fourth full day in Texas visiting my friend, Rafael, and I sure am having a good time. It's been really nice catching up with my friend from the Navy and enjoying the great outdoors in his area.
Today we visited the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center on South Padre Island. Upon arrival to the nature center we first encountered a pond with a waterfall. There were songbirds, butterflies and hummingbirds all around. We entered through the main building and out the back door. The center had over 3300 linear feet of boardwalk, 5 bird blinds, a 5 story tower (with views of Laguna Padre, the beaches, the dunes of South Padre Island, the Gulf of Mexico and the South Padre Island Skyline) and an auditorium showing a documentary about the wildlife of the Island.
The birding and nature center is a non-profit organization that was created by the town of South Padre Island's Economic Development Corporation in response to the researched desire of their residents and visitors. Their goal is to provide one-of-a-kind birding opportunities coupled with interpretive tours of the site, as well as educational opportunities to learn about birds on the island. And their mission is to educate the public about the birds and its environs (the flora, fauna and natural environment of South Padre Island and the Laguna Madre Coastal area).
Although the South Padre Island and Nature Center is an environmental center that was manmade and is well maintained, it has so far been my favorite location. It was so incredible that there were so many different types of animals to see. We saw all kinds of wildlife: herons, white ibis, ducks, cormorants, shorebirds, gators, turtles, songbirds, hummingbirds, etc. Some of the birds were first time birds for me, or as a birder would say, "a life bird". Meaning a new bird that I can add to my list of birds seen in my life. Some of them I will even have to look up the ID on. So far I looked up an all red one and I was shocked to see that it is a Cardinal as it looks completely different than the Northern Cardinals I see in NY.
After we left the Island, we went to a BBQ joint and had some Brisket for lunch. I believe that was my first time ever having brisket and I really enjoyed it. We then continued on and Rafael brought me to a park where they have Mexican Ground Squirrels. It was so foreign for me to think that there are squirrels who live under ground like chipmunks as I've only seen squirrels who live in trees. But, sure enough there is a such thing as a ground squirrel and they sure are cute. Rafael was telling me they have ground squirrels and tree squirrels and a few days ago I learned that the tree squirrels in Texas are actually fox squirrels. We discussed the other types of squirrels that I knew of and so he googled squirrels. We quickly learned that there are well over 200 species of squirrels in the United States. At this point I'm thinking, not only do I need a list of "life birds", but I may also need a list of "life squirrels". lol
After our long day out, we went back to Rafael's house to clean up and relax before going to his sisters house for dinner. Because I'm a little shy, I was a little nervous to go meet his family, but when we arrived they were so welcoming and nice. I had a really good time! His family is really sweet and they made me feel right at home. The company was fantastic, the food was fantastic and I really enjoyed meeting their chihuahua. Actually, I felt a bit like a traitor because I miss my boyz so much. Although, I think they would like the pretty girl.
By the end of the day I had taken roughly 1800 photos and so it was impossible for me to go through all my photos to choose my best shot for a blog. Instead, I did a quick search and decided I would use a species that I've never blogged about before. I decided to go with the Tricolored Heron as that is a heron that I just checked off my list this week. The tricolored heron is a medium-sized, slender heron of the southern United States. It was formerly known as the Louisiana Heron. According to the North American Breeding Bird Survey, the populations declined slightly between 1966 and 2014. The North American Waterbird Conservation Plan estimates a U.S. breeding population of less than 194,000 birds.