Roseate Spoonbill at Estero Llano Grande State Park
It's hard to believe that today is my 5th full day in Texas and I only have one more day here before I travel back home to NY. I'm having a really good time hanging out with Rafael and photographing the wildlife, but I am missing home and my boyz.
Today Rafael had to work, so I had to venture out on my own. I was a little hesitant to go far, so I went back to Estero Llano Grande State Park (Las Palomas) in Weslaco. The park is a 230 plus acre refuge in the Rio Grande Valley and it has shallow lakes, woodlands and thorn forest, which attracts a spectacular array of South Texas Wildlife. There is a visitor center/store, viewing decks, boardwalks, an observation deck and over five miles of walking trails. There are three larger ponds and two smaller ones. The three larger ponds host the majority of the wildlife: Ibis Pond, Dowitcher Pond and Alligator Lake. And, in case you were wondering.... Alligator Lake is indeed where I saw a very large alligator on 2 different occasions.
Once again the morning was windy and so the activity was a bit slower than I had hoped. However, don't let that fool you as I saw all kinds of wildlife: tricolored heron, ducks, stilts, spoonbills, turtles, ibis, egrets, songbirds, an alligator, etc.
My favorite opportunity was with the pair of roseate spoonbills who flew in, made a very brief appearance and then flew back out. One of them didn't stick around, but the other landed in Dowitcher Pond for about 2-3 minutes. It was a bit distant, but I snapped a few shots anyway and had a fantastic opportunity when it flew off (crossing right in front of me).
The Roseate Spoonbill was common in parts of the southeast until the 1860's when they were virtually eliminated from the United States from a side effect of the destruction of wader colonies by plume hunters. In the early 20th century they began to take up residency in Texas and Florida. They are still uncommon, local and vulnerable to degradation of feeding and nesting habitats. They can be found in lagoons, mudflats, coastal marshes and mangrove keys. They forage in shallow water that has a muddy bottom in bot salt and fresh water (including tidal ponds, inland marshes and coastal lagoons). They tend to nest in colonies, in the red mangroves in Florida and in willows or on coastal islands in low scrub in farther west willows.