Off to the Big Bend again

This will probably be my last post for perhaps a week or so.  We are heading to the Big Bend country of west Texas Monday morning.  This time we are renting the Lajitas House at where else, Lajitas, Texas.  Check this link to see what we will be enjoying for three days:   I am sure we will be sitting on that patio sipping a margarita or two, and aiming my camera at all the great surounding areas.

We will probably check out all of our favorite places in Big Bend National Park;  Santa Elena Canyou where we may see some Peregrine Falcons.  Rio Grande Village camping area is a great birding area, plus we may see a Bobcat or a Coyote.  There is also a great Nature Trail with a board-walk crossing some wetlands.

Floating the Rio Grande - photographed from another raft.

I don’t think we are planning on rafting the Rio Grande this trip but here is a photo of Ann and I preparing to go on a previous trip.  The little half-day float trip that we ususally do is really easy.  Just a few little water rapids splashing over the bow, just enough to make it fun, without worrying about capsizing.

Ann and I preparing to run the rapids of the Rio Grande River

The ruins of the Sam Neil Ranch is a great place to see lots of small birds.  You may also be surprised by a bunch of Collared Peccaries, commonly known as Javelinas.  You may smell them before you see them.  However, they are also quite noisy.

This jacal, or dugout, is on the Old Maverick Road.  It has an interesting history.  It was built by Roberto Luna after his marriage, who lived there until his death in1953 at the age of 103.  He farmed off the land.

Roberto Luna's jacal.

You can’t ignore the Chisos Mountains, the dominant range that is visible from every point in the park.  Elevations around 8,000 feet.  The Basin is an area in the middle of the mountains where the Lodge and camping area are located.  The floor of the Basin is at an elevation of 5,000 feet so you are surrounded by the peaks.  Great birding there, also.

Chisos Mountains

Driving west from Lajitas to Presidio on Hwy 170 is one of most spectacular scenic drives in the country.  At one point, called locally the Big Hill, you are about 450 feet above the Rio Grande River.  This drive is a must if you are in the area.  Here is a photo of Ann standing precariously above the river.  Don’t step back, dear. 🙂

Ann at the Big Hill

So,when we get back, maybe I will have some more interesting images to show you.   By the way, click on any of the above images to see enlargements.

I am still transferring pictures into my iPad.   Holy Moley, Batman, I hadn’t realized how many images I had wanted to move.  I have come across some pictures that I forgot I had.

More Big Bend/West Texas Photos

Here are some more photos from our recent trip to the Big Bend area of West Texas.  Click on any image for an enlargement.  Enjoy.

Cactus Wren


Indian Pictographs


Pronghorn Antelope


Hawk on wire


Dark-eyed Junco


Snow in Davis Mountains


Mountain Bluebird on post


Chisos Mountains and Cholla


Windmill near Sam Neil ranch ruins


Desert and Chisos Mountains snow


Snow-covered Prickly Pear


Mountain Bluebonnets


Big Bend trip update

Hi everyone.

A surprise awaited us upon our arrival at Lajitas..  When I made reservations, they had rooms for 149.00, which normally I wouldn’t spend that much, but they had a “stay-and-play” special, stay three nights and get fourth free.  So we decided on that and reserved two rooms at that rate.  However on arrival, they told us our rooms were no available as they had a very large tour group arrive.  I was at first dismayed until the clerk said we had been upgraded.  Our upgrade was to a luxury suite, that normally went for 599.00 per NIGHT.  Wow!!  No extra charge to us.  Talk about luxury.  2  bedroom, large living room, 3 baths, 3 fireplaces, 3 flat-screen  televisions and a full kitchen.  So needless to say we are enjoying ourselves immensly.

After checking in, we felt in need of margaitas and some food.  We were provided both at the Lajitss Candelilla Cafe restaurant.   Margaritas-on-the-rocks and plates of Fajitas.  Excellent food.

Yesterday, Monday, we decided to drive into the El Saucedo Ranch headquarters, located in Big Bend Ranch State Park.  The drive is 27 miles from the main highway. The temp was about 74 degrees.  The trip took us one hour and 50 minutes, over a very rough caliche road.  Our average speed was about 15-20 mph.   Very desolate, but interesting geology mountain formations.  We got a few photos of them.  Not very many birds along there, but spotted two more lifers.  A Black Phoebe, and a Verdin.  So that made that trek worth while.  However, it was an exhausting afternoon, with it being about 5 hours round trip.  If it weren’t for spotting those two birds, I don’t think it would heen worth the trip.  That park really needs more development yet.

Oh, I almost forgot.  We also saw 3 aoudads before entered the park.  Ann spotted them first.  I failed to get a good photograph as the scamper back into the brush pretty quickly.

This morning we awoke to rain.  Not sure what we wanted to do, we decided to just drive into the Big Bend National Park.  We hoped that regardless of the rain we might see something of interest.  We did, however not what we expected.  As we left Study Butte to enter the park it started snowing, that’s right, you heard me right, snowing.  We kept on going and by the time we got to Panther Junction headquarters, about 30 miled into the park, it was almost a blizzard.  Snow had accumulated to nearly 3 inches I would say.  And cold, about 30 degrees and windy.  I had wanted to get some nice winter pictures, but I didn’t expect to get them in the upper desert.  On the way back, after we got to lower altitudes again, the rain and snow had stopped and we saw some Gray-headed Juncos.  I will post some photographs here after we get back to San Angelo.

Tomorrow it is supposed to be back to sunny and upper 60s.  Go figure.  Watch for another update in a couple of days.

Happy birding!!

Record Cold Temps

After reading the weather news this morning, I can see why Ann and I might have been the only crazy people to try birding on Saturday morning.  It seems that the official low of 10 degrees was the coldest Saturday ever recorded in San Angelo.  The previous record was 15 degrees set on a Saturday in 1967..  The 10 degree temp was also the second coldest temp ever recorded on any date since we reached a low of 7 degrees on Feb. 4, 1996. Tonight the low should reach only the mid 20s, a more normal and manageable temperature.

The good news was that the wind didn’t get very high.  It can really whistle your britches here.  After all, there is nothing between here and the Canadian border except for a snow-fence.  And I think it’s lying on the ground. 🙂

American White Pelicans

As for our weekend, after the aborted birding trip, we just more or less just hung out around home.  I got cabin fever and ventured out once to see what was happening at the park lake, but just saw some gulls walking on some ice.  However, we did spot a few American White Pelicans farther out in the lake.  They were pretty much huddled up against each other.  This picture was taken a few months ago.  But you get the picture, pun intended. 🙂

We celebrated Ann’s 71st birthday yesterday.  But we just done our usual thing, going out to breakfast, she doing some more of her famous afghan knitting, me doing the Sunday crossword in a record time, for me, of three hours, in ball-point of course.  Ann’s birthday gift of her new Leupold binoculars won’t arrive ’til Wednesday.  But she knew in advance that she was getting it.

We are making plans to visit the Big Bend area the last week of

Bob & Ann rafting trip

 February.  This time we plan to stay at the Lajitas resort.  It is just outside the western boundary of Big Bend National Park.  In fact, on one hole of the golf course, if you happen to hook your drive, it will go over a high, strong, chain-link fence.  The only way you can retrieve the ball is to make a 60-mile round trip in a four-wheel drive vehicle through grease-wood and cacti. 🙂

Anyway, it should be a fun trip.  Lajitas will be a good central jumping off place for various side trips.  If the level of the Rio Grande is up enough, we may even take a rafting trip.  The above photo was taken on a previous trip several years ago.  Believe it or not, we saw an alligator in the water.  It was about 7 feet long.  Our guide had pointed it out, saying that he thought that someone had a pet, and tossed it when it got too big.  I got a few quick snap-shots of it’s snoot sticking above the water.  But they were on film and I don’t know what ever came of them.  On that trip, the river was running only about 18 inches deep.  Heck, we could have walked.  In fact, our guide had to get out and pull us over some shoals where the raft was scraping the bottom.

So that’s about enough rambling for today.

Happy Birding!!