In an arid landscape, water and food sources on Martin Refuge draw in the birds. Yes, it was hot. And humid. But we forgot to notice the heat each time we got the intense colors of a Green Jay, a Northern Cardinal or a Roadrunner in our sights.
Spent the day at the Javelina section of the (private) Martin Refuge, a 40 minute drive from McAllen, TX. Ranch owners John and Audrey Martin have restored this acreage with native plants and developed several blinds for daily use by nature photographers. We sampled 3 different blinds, all of which were dug into the ground and allowed eye-level shots of the birds coming to ponds, seed and suet near the blinds. The morning was focused on familiar Rio Grande Valley birds: Curve-billed and Long-billed Thrasher, Green Jay, Crested Caracara, Northern Cardinal, Pyrrhuloxia, several species of doves and Greater Roadrunner. Our first blind in the afternoon offered a few migrants: White-eyed Vireo, Lincoln's Sparrow and Blue Grosbeak, as well as Olive Sparrow. The final stop was a blind near a corn feeder frequented by Javelina (oh boy, are they big!) and focused on ground feeding birds like Northern Bobwhite, Scaled Quail, Common Ground-dove, White-tipped Dove, Mourning Dove, as well as many of the morning birds. A visit from a Sharp-shinned Hawk around tea time provided a distraction when a Common Ground-dove took refuge in our blind and had to be escorted from the premises. The facilities at this refuge and the guiding services of Patty Raney made for a fabulous first day in the Rio Grande Valley.