The Wandering Wishnies travel blog

Sunrise at Falcon State Park

Our back yard at Falcon State Park

Javelinas grazing in our backyard at Falcon State Park

You lookin’ at me?

Feeding frenzy as we’re overrun with Red-winged Blackbirds and Grackles

The Rio Grande River is so narrow at Salineno you could walk...

Northern Cardinal in flight, taken at Salineno

Female Hooded Oriole, far less common here than the Altamira’s

Brilliantly colored male Hooded Oriole, Eastern variety in breeding plumage being harrassed...

You might think this one should be called a Hooded Oriole due...

Female Ladder-backed Woodpecker munching breakfast

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

This Green Jay appears to have a broken top beak

Female Vermillion Flycatcher

I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille (Altamira Oriole)

Fierce winds made this young White-faced Ibis look a bit scruffy. It’s...

Cute little Tufted Titmouse

Pretty gated home in Salineno

Closeup view of the fence detail

Directly across from that home was this dilapidated barn-like structure

I was fascinated with the construction techniques of this barn

And across from that barn was an equally interesting very old decrepit...

One more old, abandoned disintegrating building. Wish I knew what its significance...

View from the other side; a lot is missing

Built in 1884 as the Guerro Residence and Store in Roma, restored...

Across from Roma City Hall is this former “cantina”, built by same...

Medical office & home of Dr. Alexander Headley, native of Rothbury, England...

First United Methodist Church, the first protestant church in Starr County, built...

Found this unusual building across from the church. Couldn’t quite figure out...

I am soooooooooo behind in my blog postings. From Falcon we went to San Antonio for a week. And we are now in Kerrville. That’s just to catch you up on where we are now. But back to my story…

After Harlingen, we made one more stop before leaving the Rio Grande Valley behind. One of the birding venues we visited while staying in Mission was a little place called Salineno, and near by was Falcon State Park. We remembered that the state park had some nice camping opportunities and we enjoyed our time birding there. So we thought it would be nice to get away from the busy-ness of the city and enjoy some quiet time in the country. A last minute call to the park snagged the last campsite available with water and electric hookups.

The route to get to Falcon State park would take us along the Texas/Mexican border, following the route of the Rio Grande River, through a couple of very old cities that trace their roots and heritage to Spanish Colonial times. Roma was colonized in the mid-1700’s by families of the Mexican region known as Nuevo Leon, and many descendants of those families still live in the original land grant homes. Today sleepy little Roma is home to approximately 10,500 people. By contrast, its sister city in Mexico across the river, Ciudad Miguel Aleman, has 35,000 residents.

In 1993, a nine-square block area was designated a national Historic Landmark District. We had simply passed through when we visited the first time, so now I would have an opportunity to stop and take a look at some of the old structures still standing.

Another of the cities was Rio Grande City, founded in 1848, exactly 100 years before I was born. I looked forward to revisiting this city also to see some of their historic buildings. These towns are rich in natural and cultural legacies and it is easy to see the Mexican architectural influence.

This drive west, once you pass through Mission, is what we thought the Rio Grande Valley should look like, not the busy shopping corridor that exists from Harlingen, near the gulf, west to Mission. And we enjoyed this drive and area. An added benefit to camping here would be the opportunity to return to Salineno to look at birds again.

Salineno is a well known birding hot spot in the Valley. On a small tract of land near the Rio Grande River the US Forest Service manages a bird feeding station that attracts many migrating as well as year-round birds. A volunteer lives on the property in their RV, keeping the feeders filled, and providing about a dozen lawn chairs for birders to relax and enjoy. It’s a husband/wife team, although only the wife is a birder, and she sits outside visiting with the steady stream of curious birders, helping identification and enjoying the company. Her husband does his own thing, either inside the RV or off premises out and about. He must be quite the guy to agree to this work camping gig in which he has absolutely no interest.

So we did visit Salineno, once again enjoying the myriad of birds, and allowing Fred the opportunity to get some great up-close bird portraits, which I‘m sharing here for your enjoyment. And after we had our fill there, passing through the little village of Salineno, we paused for my photo ops of some of their old buildings. I almost enjoyed these little structures more than the historic buildings of either Roma or Rio Grande City. There was one quite substantial home, surrounded by beautiful fencing, and I was entranced by the iron work of the fence. Nearby were some interesting old, falling-down structures, as well as just simple basic homes of what are obviously poorer folk, some places looking like they were abandoned, or should be, but aren’t.

That was a phenomenon we noticed all over the Valley in most every city or place we visited. Beautiful substantial homes, cheek-by-jowl, with scrappy old houses or even mobile homes. Nice lawns, next to trashy yards. We never got used to that.

But I digress. Getting back to the title of this blog….

Once established in our campsite at Falcon, we immediately set up the bird feeders. One of the reasons we came here was that it was a birding haven, and we were determined to have some in our patio. What we didn’t anticipate was that we would have our very own Javelinas in our backyard.

After our first night, I was kind of surprised to see our flat ground feeder had been turned upside down and moved about eight feet from where I had set it up. I couldn’t imagine what had happened to it, and mused that thought to Fred as I sipped my first cup of coffee. I even went outside and refilled it and put it back in its original location. A little while later when I returned to the kitchen to get more coffee, I gasped in surprise as I looked out the window and saw two big fat Javelinas foraging on the feeder. Yikes! They weren’t more than about 10 feet from our door. A little more wildlife than I bargained for. But I ran out yelling “Shoo, Shoo!” (after I took pictures, of course), and scared them away. I know they came back later with some of their friends, even though I didn‘t see them, as our neighbor told me he saw SIX of them at one time, but I never saw them again.

Our feeders were very popular with the Red-winged Blackbirds and the Grackles. “Garbage” birds to me. They monopolized the feeders so we didn’t see very many other species in our yard. Even so, it was nice to wake up every morning to the sound of birds outside our coach.

This was a very nice park, with great birding. The only downside were the bugs. Our first night, we tried to grill out for dinner but as soon as the sun went down, and we turned on our lights, we practically had to beat the bugs off with a stick. Mostly small mosquito types, with a few larger ones thrown in for good measure. I’m very bug averse, and it’s one of those things that can really turn me off about a campground. So needless to say, night time was indoor time, and I planned no further barbeque meals while we were here.

All in all, it was a nice respite from the big city atmosphere and a relaxing segue to our next stop of San Antonio.

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