Finally Arrived at this Year’s New Winter Home
Well, I finally completed the long journey from Alaska to the Mexican border, having arrived here in Salineno, Texas on November 1st. This will be my first volunteer stint since retiring and hitting the road two and a half years ago, also the first time I will remain in one spot for five and a half months, almost like settling down again.
I must apologize for the lack of recent posts but I do have a bit of a dilemma here … a very weak to often non-existent Verizon internet signal. I am provided with a wonderful spot for my motorhome here, full hookups, lots of privacy in a nice setting, but no useable internet, one of the few places I have been where my Verizon Jet-Pac gets no signal, or only one bar of 3G. As a result, where doing a blog post with a decent signal might take me half an hour, here this particular post, with only a few images, took about four hours, the uploads are pretty slow, to be kind. There have been promises made to look into exploring how an internet signal might be brought in here, so maybe the situation will improve sometime this winter. Until then, posts will be made on a weekly basis, I hope.
The Salineno Birding Station is a joint venture of the Valley Land Trust, owners of the property, and the United States Fish and Game Department, who manage the volunteers here. Having visited this spot in 2010 and again in 2013 for bird photography, I thought this might be a good place to sit still and recover a bit from this summers activities. The primary hosts here, Lois and Merle, who have volunteered at Salineno for six years previous to this winter, will show me the ropes, and, hopefully, I will be up to the task.
It took the three of us about a week of hard work pulling grass and weeds, trimming downed trees and limbs, to make the place presentable after a summer where the place is left on it’s own. Then the feeders go out and we start working on bringing the birds in. I was a little surprised how quickly they started showing up.
As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.
The absolutely gorgeous Green Jays were the first to come in. This is one of the few spots in the United States where you can see this brilliantly colored bird and there often are so many of them in and out of here that it is soon possible to think of them as just another bird, simply because of their numbers, certainly not their plumage. At this time we have probably a dozen or more of them, and that number increases as their natural foods start to disappear as the season progresses ( this will be true for most of the bird species here ).
A pair of Golden-fronted Woodpeckers also soon appeared. This is one of my favorite birds here. The male has a red spot on the top of his head and the female can be distinguished from the male by the lack of that red spot.
Also showing up regularly is a juvenile Ladder-backed Woodpecker …
… still working on growing in all his colorful red head feathers.
Salineno is known for attracting three species of orioles, the Altamira, Audubon, and Hooded Orioles.
And it didn’t take long for the first pair of Altamira Orioles to appear. This is one of the largest and most brilliantly colored of the orioles.
A pair of Audubons also soon arrived. This oriole is one of the most sought after birds here at Salineno, one of the best spots to find one.
We also have a single female Hooded Oriole coming in on a regular basis now and Merle and Lois say that the male usually shows up a week or two later. I will get a photograph of these guys later, I hope.
Another bird birders come here for is the Olive Sparrow, certainly not as colorful as the orioles, but again, another species for which Salineno has proven to be be a good spot to encounter one. These little guys are a little more difficult to get a good shot of since they generally stay on the ground and around the edges, preferring to be very near some type of cover.
The Long-billed Thrasher is another fairly common bird here and one of my favorites to photograph.
After ten days of feeding here, there have been forty different bird species that have visited, a number that normally increases to about twice that before the season ends.
One of the species that regularly shows up and tends to clean out all the food is the Plain Chachalaca, a chicken sized game bird that we tend to try and discourage, mostly unsuccessfully. This gluttonous bird makes off with the oranges, devours every kind of seed that we spread, breaks feeders and feeding platforms with it’s substantial weight, and simply proves to generally be an unwanted pest … but is not easily discouraged. We have what is most likely a family unit of seven birds coming in several times a day.
A list of species seen here so far ( and we are only ten days in! )
In years past the total number of sightings varies between 70 and 80.
- Green jay
- Golden-fronted Woodpecker
- Northern cardinal
- Olive Sparrow
- Altamira Oriole
- Audubon Oriole
- Inca Dove
- White-tipped Dove
- White-winged Dove
- House Sparrow
- Great Kiskadee
- Common Yellow-throat
- Osprey *
- Turkey Vulture *
- Crested Caracara *
- Northern Mockingbird
- Ladder-backed Woodpecker
- Long-billed Thrasher
- Plain Chachalaca
- Black-crested Titmouse
- Hooded Oriole
- Red-winged Blackbird
- Great-tailed Grackle
- Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
- White Pelican *
- Bewick’s Wren
- Orange-crowwned Warbler
- Mourning Dove
- Lesser Goldfinch
- Ringed Kingfisher *
- Eastern Phoebe
- House Wren
- Blue-headed Vireo
- Gray Hawk *
- Couch’s Kingbird
- Black Phoebe
- Lincoln Sparrow
- Common Grackle
- Denotes Flyover
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