On Again Off, Off, Off Again
Sorry for the absence, been fighting a cold and I think I’m finally out from under the fog.
Hasn’t diminished the experience of Big Bend but it has made me tired. And I …
* Outside the window a Pyrrhuloxia pair. That right next to a house finch pair. Comedic. (We see House Finches a lot in Atlanta.)
Yesterday we went to Chisos Mountains and hiked in the basin. Not an overwhelming number of birds but, nevertheless, birds we haven’t seen; Mexican Jay, Phainopepla, Cactus Wren and a Canyon Towhee. The area is fascinating. There are signs everywhere to be careful with bears and mountain lions. There are hikers, 18-25, taking off on 15 mile hikes without a care and pairs of elderly women who won’t go to a overlook point with wheelchair access and a total loop distance of .5 mile from the basin store, scared of lions.
We stayed and had dinner at the Lodge there and I think we would have done better eating at “home.” The food was OK and we had good service but when you can make exactly what you want to eat… better.
On the way home in the dark there were constant little eyes reflected on the road, Common Poorwill. We probably saw 15. We drove to within 5 feet, slowly, and rolled down the windows to look. Many of them never flew as we rolled past.
Sprinter Note: Gas mileage is improving as is our knowledge of the routines we need to perform for maximum efficiency. It’s really neat to come back from an arduous hike and take a nap in the parking lot. Instant privacy, bathroom, refrigerator. There were a couple of other Sprinters we encountered throughout the day. None very similar. Lots of people interested in how they work. We saw a vehicle the day we got here which was unusual to say the least. It was a … gotta go birding a minute. Oh yeah, the vehicle… It was 3 feet taller than the Sprinter. Wheels almost as tall as I am. “Living” compartment in the back and every kind of winching, towing, spare tire, etc. device in front. Must have a really big engine but I could never find the driver so I don’t know.
Big Bend National Park is a wonder. This seems to be a good time of year to go even though it’s a little in advance of full migration. At least it’s not too hot or buggy. We never had any bug problems and, if anything, were a bit cold sleeping.
Franca finally saw a roadrunner today. I saw one in 1965 on my way to California in North Texas. 🙂
The landscape is austere, vast and beautiful. The colors of the layers of rocks can vary from bright yellow through blue, gray, rust to purple. The vegetation can seem other-worldly, cactus, mesquite and lots and lots of wildflowers which we’re trying to learn.
The thing is, it would take months and a lot of patience as well as advice from the locals to see everything there is to see in the way of birds and other animals. The birds are liable to turn up anywhere. The roadrunner Franca saw was across the road from Stillwell’s Store where we stayed. In the parking lot I saw the thrasher, 4-5 species of sparrows, raven, house finches, cactus wren. I have noticed that a great many species of birds are located around human habitation or building in use. I think there is a constant source of water and, probably, food of some sort. Also, because much of Big Bend is desert a lot takes place at night. I’d love to come back, spend more time, learn more. (BTW I picked up the new National Geographic Field Guide to Western Birds….Great!)
Left the Big Bend area today. Headed to Abilene and arrived about 4:45 PM, I-20 a lot of the way. Not too much traffic. On the way we saw 2000-3000 windmills, the big white ones near Midland, Big Spring and into Abilene.
I miss Big Bend. I’ll add some photos soon.