I spent a week earlier this month as a guest of the McAllen Convention and Visitors' Bureau in south Texas, visiting more than a dozen local birding hotspots to review them. I knew the birding life was different so far from Utah, but within just a day or two, I was overwhelmed. Each day brought new lifers, new habitats, and new features to explore in a wide range of stunning locations. It is going to take me some time to sort out all that I gleaned from the trip, but one thing is certain: with more than 130 birds seen (this despite early afternoon finishes, no night birding, time spent taking notes rather than dedicated birding, and a lack of visits to the western, drier region and its unique birds) and an amazing 66 lifers, there is no denying that everything is bigger in Texas!
Some random highlights from the trip...
- Outstanding views of many south Texas specialty birds, including plain chachalacas, green jays, and buff-bellied hummingbirds.
- My first exposure to real Mexican food, igniting a passion for refried beans, guacamole, and chorizo that I'm going to find it hard to quench at home.
- Learning to go birding in jeans even in high heat and humidity, given the scores of mosquitoes that take advantage of any bare skin.
- Meeting a wide range of outstanding people, all of whom love birding in some way and help to bring it to their individual communities.
- Seeing the Rio Grande River and walking through the infamous border fence (not that it was all that hard to do, given the huge gap right in the road).
Of course, now I have my work cut out for me to complete each review (which I'm happy to do), along with several other articles on local birding books, tips for birding in the region, and other information that will be helpful to anyone planning to go birding in the Rio Grande Valley. Stay tuned!