From Pride RV in Waynesville, we headed south and west staying at the Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park near McCalla, Alabama, the Pavilion RV Park in West Monroe, Louisiana, the New Adventure RV Park and Horse Hotel outside of Coldspring Texas, and the Gateway to the Gulf RV Park in Coldspring, Texas, before reaching our winter destination at the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, about 30 miles north of Brownsville and near Los Fresnos, Texas.
Laguna Atascosa NWR
An informal greeting committee met us as we passed the entrance sign and drove into the refuge—five roadrunners strutted across the road in front of us (one at a time) in what appeared to be a welcoming procession. Native Americans consider the Greater Roadrunner sacred, so we took their presence as a powerful omen and a sign of good luck—it’s gonna be a great stay!
Laguna Atascosa is roughly 100,000 acres consisting of four parcels of land. It is a world-class birding location with over 400 avian species either staying there year ‘round, wintering, or stopping off their migratory path for a few days of rest and fueling up for the next leg of
their journey. It is also the home of several endangered and threatened species—check out https://www.fws.gov/refuge/laguna_atascosa/.
Here is a recent article on the ocelot and the refuge:
Here are a few bird pics I have taken since we arrived. In order is the green jay, mockingbird, Harris’s hawk, and a long-billed thrasher. Quite good looking, don’t you think?
Jan and I are the “interpreters” for the wildlife tours. We will be hosting three-hour tram tours that go through four different habitats of the refuge along a 15-mile route. All kinds of cool critters live along the way. Below is a shot of the majestic caracara I shot on a practice run. Also, the refuge is home of nilgai (pronounced “nil’ guy”), an antelope on steroids (they weigh up to 600+ pounds)—an exotic species native to Pakistan and India. Below is a photo of a male.
View from Our Campsite
We live in the Volunteer Village on the refuge, a very nice RV campground with 11 sites for the volunteers. We have a wonderful view in which to check out nature in action. Jack and Mitzy also love to just sit and scope out the carousel of critters that come through our backyard from time to time. Here is a shot of Jack in critter-watching mode, an armadillo, Stretch the Texas indigo snake (he’s a good one), a Mexican ground squirrel, and Angelina the javelina.
It is our habit, when time allows, to take a family drive in the late afternoon to look for sights to see and critters to capture with the camera. Jan usually drives, Jack has the backseat, and I sit shotgun with Mitzy on my lap with my camera on a bean bag pointing out the window.
One day as we were driving down the road, Jan cranks the wheel and does a 180-degree turn. She jumps out the door to rescue a tarantula that was trying to cross a busy road (his odds of not being splat were quite poor). She pulls her sweatshirt sleeve down over her right hand, lowers it to the ground, and the tarantula clings on. Jan walks over to the opposite shoulder of the road and shakes her arm to free her rescued friend. The tarantula is not easily released and slowly starts to trek up Jan’s arm. I yell at her to stop so that I can take a picture, but when the big guy reaches her shoulder and her attempts to loosen her eight-legged buddy are unsuccessful, she whips off her sweatshirt, throws it to the ground, and runs back to the car wearing just her sports bra on top. Of course, I got the shot, loosened the grip of our new friend, and returned the sweatshirt to Jan to put on before traffic overtook us.
Here are two old trucks from the Old Truck Reserve.
See you next time.