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West Texas Adventure

Part 1:  McAllen to Alpine

Was wide awake at 3:40 so decided to get up and do the morning routine and get going!  Ended up leaving around 6:30 and added a mess of Valley specialties to the trip list just by packing the car and dumping the garbage, including Kiskadee, Couch’s Kingbird, and Buff-bellied Hummingbird!  On the way to the freeway picked up a Common Nighthawk, but then decided to stop at Falcon for my exercise walk, and that padded the list even more; frankly, I was surprised the park was even open, as Falcon Dam had to open its floodgates because Amistad had opened theirs, and I assumed the place would be flooded out!  Amazingly, even the picnic area was open, which had been closed to vehicles for so long after Dolly!  But I parked at the far end and walked 15 minutes back down towards the rec center, and was entertained by a Roadrunner who had caught a huge rat for breakfast!  Interestingly a Mockingbird was giving him fits; he must have been pretty nearsighted if he thought he had his baby!  A Yellow-billed Cuckoo posed for knockout shots on the main road, and picked up the usual Bobwhites, Cactus Wrens, and even a Long-billed Thrasher by ear.  Olive Sparrows were all over, and even one came out to pishing!  On the way in, a Black-throated Sparrow was singing right close to the road, so I stopped to record that.  Orioles were all over; I know I had Bullock’s, but I suspect I might have had Orchard as well, but the light was terrible and I couldn’t tell.  Osprey was a nice addition, along with "Greg and Sneg" (think of the Banding Codes...)!  A Turkey Vulture sunning himself was begging for a picture, and bunnies were also all over.


Road to the picnic area at Falcon State Park

Flooded picnic area; the reservoir is full to capacity due to rains from Alex dumped in Mexico!


Scissor-tailed Flycatcher


Roadrunner with breakfast


Yellow-billed Cuckoo


Another Yellow-billed Cuckoo hides in the bushes, while a Turkey Vulture suns.



Headed on up US 83 after that, adding the expected raptors such as Swainson’s and Harris’ Hawks, plus several Caracaras and Chihuahuan Ravens.  I took that SR 20 loop that I suspected bypassed Laredo, and it sure did; that was a great detour!  My concerns about the highways being flooded were unfounded, as they were just fine, and it was fun seeing the normally dry arroyos all filled with water!  It would have been fun to check out Lake Amistad, as it looked like a gorgeous area (especially the Pecos River), but as it was, I actually was able to make it into Alpine in one day, due to the early departure and 75 mph speed limits, I’m sure!  And Bippy darn near made it on one tank of gas; just to be safe I filled up in Del Rio, but according to her little calculator, she still had almost 200 miles to go (and well over a quarter of a tank left, but I didn’t see any “major” towns between there and Alpine, frankly, so I didn’t wanna risk it…)

Click here to continue to Davis Mountains State Park

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