Monday, June 13, 2011

Texas - Big Bend National Park - Friday 3 June 2011

Our last morning in Big Bend dawned beautiful, again. We had decided to hike the trail up to the Oak forest in search of Colima Warblers. We had one significant challenge though, we had to check out by 11am so we set off promptly, stopping at various spots to photograph the rising sun against the stunning scenery:



This gap is the 'window':




You can see why it's called The Pinnacles trail:







We encountered very few humans on the way up, mostly birds and unexpected ones too, including a Spotted Towhee:




The thus-far-elusive Scott's Oriole:




Once they've seen you these birds don't hang around. I'd only managed to get one in the frame thus far, let alone get any in focus. This one was obviously still feeling a bit dozy so didn't disappear on sight, so I managed a couple of quick snaps before he followed form and flew off:




We picked-up a few new species on our ascent, including Rock Wren:





And Mexican Jay:







Together with the more familiar Black-headed Grosbeak:



We reckon we had climbed over 3 of the required 4.5 miles to get to the Colimas but we ran out of time and had to head back down the trail. We have to go back to Big Bend. It'll be an April when it's cooler and there are more birds going through on migration, however we really did enjoy our visit, it's a breathtakingly beautiful park, its remoteness helping it retain a level of ecological health unmatched in most of the other places we have visited.

On the way down the trail the sun was still rising:




We drove from Big Bend to a pit stop at Odessa, which is located in the middle of the oilfields. The smell of oil floats over the land, and it's really quite an unpleasant smell. The receptionist told us the highlights of Odessa were the occasional wildfires... she also told us when we called down to ask if they had problems with the hot water to run the taps for 20 minutes. 2o minutes and this is in an area struck by a major drought and water shortage! We showered cold. Saturday we managed to get to Dallas with a couple of hours to spare so fitted in some shopping before dropping the car off and heading home.

We ended up having driven over 2,700 miles in 7 days, seeing some 146 species of bird, of which 60 were additions to our USA list, and 54 of these were 'lifers', which was a great outcome from the week. Big Bend and indeed Texas will linger long in the memory!

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