I could begin this blog post with the traditional “Happy New Year” but, instead I’ll say, welcome to Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.
January marks the beginning of our fourth month as Visitor Center volunteers and, as such, we have welcomed thousands of people to the Refuge from all over the globe. Many who visit are “birders” but we get a fair amount of people who just come out to walk the trails, ride the tram, climb the tower, and look at nature.
Speaking of birds and nature, we have been watching a Cooper’s Hawk from the Visitor’s Center this weekend. And yesterday, I put out oranges in the feeding areas while the Chachalacas walked around at my feet. The trees were filled with the Great Kiskadees this morning and I watched a Grey Hawk soar low above the parking lot. Visitors hadn’t even made it out of the parking lot and they were twirling around catching sight of one bird and another with their cameras and binoculars!
On an average day, we have at least a couple of visitors looking specifically for the Northern Jacana. In fact, it is the most requested bird and is referenced so often that I know it is found on page 158 of the National Geographic Field Guide. The one Jacana that is found here has been here since early October and continues to draw birders from far away.
As visitors to this area, we finally found time to spend an afternoon over at Bentsen State Park, which is about 26 miles west in Mission, TX. Bentsen is a nice park with paved roads (open only to foot traffic and their tram) and trails similar to those here at Santa Ana. There, we saw a Roadrunner and plenty of common birds (Green Jay, Cardinal, etc.). Kenny really enjoyed getting a good look at a Golden Fronted Woodpecker using our new binoculars. Next up, we are looking forward to visiting Estero Llano Grande State Park in Weslaco, TX.
The weather here has been mostly good with temperatures this week as high as 79 and sunny. We are on a cooling trend, though and today will only be in the high 50’s. We are really enjoying the moderate temps and full sunshine!
I just remembered the title of this blog… I believe that I promised you something about pictures… Since I’m approaching a thousand words, maybe it’s time to stop and deliver the pictures, lol. But, before that, let us go ahead and wish you the best New Year possible and know that we are thinking warm thoughts of you, our friends and family!
Dorothy & Ken