Friday, March 30, 2012

Our time is up!

It’s hard to believe our three months are already finished here at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.

We have had a wonderful time and hope to get back here next year. We really liked our job duties and working with the biologist. All the staff have been very nice.

Even though we didn’t get to spend a lot of time with the other volunteers, we enjoyed meeting everyone.

During our three months we donated 696 hours of our time. Tried out 21 new restaurants. Saw 3 life birds, Nilgai Antelope, and an ocelot.

Here are a few more favorite photos:

Roseatte Spoonbill

Black-necked Stilt

South Padre Island Beach

Mark on the jetty

Brown Pelican

Green Jay

This little Screech Owl roosts in the left side drain pipe over the visitor center:

Wild Turkey

Long-billed Curlew

Sunrise over the Laguna Madre

We’ll be home for a week or so then start heading to Colorado. We’ll have a few stops along the way to our next volunteer assignment which starts May 1.

Keep reading as we travel to Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lives of Birds:

We have been going out to the South Padre Island Birding Center every Saturday morning and have enjoyed watching the birds going about their lives. While it is fun to simply see and identify birds, we find it interesting to observe them feeding, preening, competing for territories, etc.

It is the time for male birds to establish their territories, and we observed these female (thanks Judy for the correction on gender!) Belted Kingfishers doing aerial battle over the birding center. They were waaaay up in the sky so these images aren't as clear as I would like. But some of the postures these guys achieved were amazing.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Best Fishermen on the Coast

Lots of people like to fish down here, but I am convinced that the best fishermen on the coast are Ospreys.

We see a lot of them, and they always seem to have a fish!!

And where there is something to eat you'll usually find a gull. In this picture you see an Osprey with a fish, a Ring-billed Gull is nearby to pick up the scraps, and two Ruddy Turnstones are there to pick up anything that the gull might miss.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

All you can eat crab...

But you have to catch them yourselves!!

We find little Fiddler Crabs in damp areas all over the refuge and out at the South Padre Island Birding Center. The small (1") crabs are named for their single oversized claw which makes them look like they are carrying around a fiddle. Turns out that these tasty little morsels are favorites of the waders and shorebirds in the area. We watched this White Ibis capture, manipulate, and finally eat one crab after another. Yum !!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Olive Sparrow

The Olive Sparrow's have been ponging here at the Refuge!

Friday, March 23, 2012

It’s a standoff!

While we were out on the refuge the other day we came across this big guy across the road.

After honking the horn and throwing two sticks and a tree branch at him, he still wouldn’t move! Mark finally drove right up to him. After a lot of hissing (the alligator, not Mark), he finally scooted back just a little so we could drive on by.

I was glad we were in the big truck and not in the little Kawasaki “mule” that we sometimes drive.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What is this??

Some birds are so well camouflaged and sneaky that they can be really hard to find.

This bird is known for stalking about in marsh grass, and freezing with its bill pointed straight up when alarmed. In this posture it blends well with the surrounding grasses and becomes almost invisible.

But sometimes they cooperate as this bird did at the South Padre Island birding center. Lots of folks like us got their "best ever" pictures of the American Bittern!!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Hardy little flower!

I found this hardy little flower, from the Verbenaceae Family, growing in the middle of the road!

I've always called this flower a Verbena. I believe it's Dakota Vervain (Verbena bipinnatifida).

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sea Turtle, Inc.

On a recent chilly Saturday, we stopped by the Sea Turtle Rescue Center on South Padre.

The founder of Sea Turtle, Inc was Ila Fox Loetscher. In 1965, at the age of 61 she fell in love with the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle, decided to take up the protection of sea turtles as her life’s work, and began rehabilitating injured sea turtles at her home on South Padre Island.

In 1977, Ila formed Sea Turtle, Inc. into its present non-profit, all-volunteer organization. She died in January of 2000 at the age of 95.

I found this wonderful picture of Ila Fox Loetscher on the Internet. Notice the snazzy, turtle sweater!

On the day we visited, since the outside air temperature was below 55 degrees, the outside tanks were covered to conserve heat so we weren’t able to see a lot of the turtles.

There were a few turtles inside in kiddie pools where we were able to get up close to see these beautiful creatures.

This, really bad picture, is Allison. She is an Atlantic green sea turtle. She should live to be over 100 years old! Allison is missing 3 flippers due to a predator attack in 2005. She is world famous because she wears the first successful sea turtle prosthetic in the world.

We came across these beautiful hand-crocheted bags for sale in the gift shop.