Some South Texas Birds

Sunday, we headed out of chilly (31) Goliad State Park enroute to the Rio Grande Valley. We saw some neat birds at Goliad including these two Black Vultures catching some afternoon rays.

Along Highway 59, some movement caught my eye and I spotted a bunch of Sandhill Cranes. After a U-turn, dodging several large trucks, we returned to look them over.

There were 100-200 in the field. We thought the van had spooked them but looking at this photo, I think a raptor got them airborne.

At the first day here at Americana RV park, we are seeing lots of birds, especially during a visit to the Bentsen-Palm State Park.

A handsome White Pelican


A Snowy Egret

Two Great Egrets and a Snowy. Note the yellow “slippers” on the Snowy.

The chicken-like Plain Chachalaca is furtive but also very noisy.

Posted in 2018SW Trip, Rio Grande Valley, RV Park, Texas birds, Texas state parks | Leave a comment

Some Louisiana Critters

Fontainbleau State Park, on an old sugar plantation on Lake Ponchratrain, is filled with wildlife. Deer, relatively tame, watch us as we tend to the van or walk the camp roads.

It is great to see our northern birds, such as Yellow-rumped Warblers here in force. Southern birds, such as Loggerhead Shrikes like this one, are also fun to see once again.

Here is a sampling of others we have seen on this first birding stop of the trip:

Great Egret


Northern Mockingbird

American Coot

We are off to Texas today and anticipating some cool rainy travel weather but next week in the Rio Grande Valley look good. Buenos dias, mis amigos.

Posted in 2018SW Trip, LA birds, Louisiana State Parks, Wildlife Watching | 1 Comment

Finally – Warm birding

After delaying several days for dangerously frigid weather, we got the van dug out and started and launched Sunday in -13 degree weather (we hit -21 on the road that morning) and after three long drives and motel stays, headed to Fountainbleau State Park in LA where we are resting for a day.

We’ve been out on a couple of walks and I’ll be posting a few photos tomorrow. It"s fun to run a camera with warm fingers.

Posted in 2018SW Trip, Louisiana State Parks, Southwest trip, SW Trip 2018, winter travel | 2 Comments

Winter Trip Plans

We are planning to stay at one place this winter for about six weeks since we’ll be returning early to go on a birding trip in late March. We have reservations in the Rio Grande Valley at a funky little RV park called Americana The Birding Center RV Park.

I have stayed there before and while not really into all the “activities” offered, I like the fact that you can bike to the Bentsen- Rio Grand Valley World Bird Site and it’s a short drive or a day trip to eight others:

It’s easy to get up to Salenino and Falcon Lake State Park and dozens of other RGV hotspots. Sitting here in cool rainy Vermont, I’m getting itchy.

Here are some shots off the web of the park — it’s old school and very birder-friendly.


Park entrance

Tree-lined streets offer shade and onsite birding.

The pool is a popular gathering spot

The park, like most, has modest wifi. It is strongest here.

While we will miss hitting Arizona and California this winter, we’ll see how ‘staying put” works out. Stay tuned.




Posted in Americana RV Park, SW Trip 2018, Texas birding, Texas birds | 1 Comment

Goodbye, Dear Penny

Last night, assisted by Doctor Erika, we said goodbye to Penny, our wonderful traveling companion. She had hiked her last hike with me last week and after nearly 14 years of high energy living, ran out of gas. She crossed the country seven times, had a long life list of critters (alligators, armadillos, javelinas, road-runners, coots, gallinules, to name a few), and as a rescue dog, was very much “a piece of work.” Well-loved by all” is not an exaggeration.

Here is a little photo tribute to this great dog, who we will miss deeply.

Penny loved a good run….

and nap on chairs and couches

She took up a lot of space in my Luscombe but enjoyed flying.

and she was a great traveling companion.

Caminos felices, mi maravillosa amiga

Posted in Birding With Penny, Penny, personal reflection, Vizsla | 7 Comments

A Little Sparrow Love

Sparrows are often the Rodney Dangerfield’s of my birding world – they just don’t get any respect. However, fed up with the antics of fall warblers, it’s fun to see some of the sparrows sitting a bit still for identification and perhaps photos.

I came across this Lincoln’s Sparrow the other day and just wanted to share how lovely some of these little brown jobs can be:

Posted in Local Birding, Sparrows, Vermont Birding | 2 Comments

Paddling Ricker Pond

Launching our boats right from the campsite, we took a wonderful paddle on Ricker Pond, watching loons,

Observing the Great Blue Heron

And just getting some sun and exercise in a pretty setting

Even my blog-writing site is hard to top.

More color shows each day. It’s a great time to be camping in Vermont.

Posted in fall colors, Vermont Camping, Vermont State Parks | Comments Off on Paddling Ricker Pond

Checking Out The Van

Finally, we got The Goshawk ready for a local mid-week camping trip to Ricker Pond State Park. I had reserved the only on-shoreline spot we could fit into and as I write this looking out the door, I can see early sign of autumn’s colors reflected in the water while a soon-to-depart Common Loon cruises and calls. Few campers, mid-seventies temps, and a nice forecast. What’s not to like?

After a quick setup, Penny and I took a pretty walk where this Great Blue Heron posed for us.

Sally is coming tonight with the kayaks so we’ll hit the water in the morning. While we are waiting, we tried some selfies to pass the time. Penny is up and frisky after a couple of tough medical weeks so we should have a couple of good shakedown days as we get ready for longer journeys.

Posted in Airstream Interstate, Birding With Penny, Local Birding, local camping, shakedown trip, Spinter van, Vermont Birding, Vermont State Parks | 4 Comments

Tooting Our Own Horn

The horn on Sprinter vans is a joke, sounding like a clown car. Ours died last winter in California and I haven’t replaced it, to Sally’s delight since she hates horn honking and enjoys watching me hit the mute horn when a light changes and someone is texting or I get cut off by an aggressive driver.

The rig is overdue for inspection (see previous post for why) so I needed to install one that works. Cue YouTube for advice.

I bought a replacement horn, with a lower tone, and it was a pretty simple installation once I realized that it only works with the ignition on.

The new horn was an easy fix once I checked the fuse and put new connectors on the wires. Ready for inspection.

I was tempted to install a big truck multi-horn system with some real blasting power but want to keep piece in our 24-foot travelling home.

Posted in Airstream Interstate, repairs, rig maintenance, Spinter van | 1 Comment

Free at Last

Three months ago, I wrote about the poor service I was experiencing as the Interstate languished in the storage yard at Pete’s RV’s in South Burlington. I guess I knew then, when they took their sweet time to do anything, that my rig was a hostage. Early on, I wasn’t too concerned since I had no plans to travel and many other projects on my plate but in the last few months, it’s been ridiculous.

I won’t make you read all the details but it was just unresponsive service: concentrating on prepping sold rigs, delaying getting the rig in and then blaming suppliers for long delays, never initiating status calls or emails, just forgetting to do things and letting the rig just sit there. I was quite patient (too patient) having not a lot of other options.

My insurance adjuster for Progressive has been wonderful, but frustrated. He knows that he recommended Pete’s over a couple of smaller local RV centers. He was happy to call me Wednesday with the “it’s ready to go” news.

Nice to be home – loose wires and missing fasteners and all.

So, after five and a half months, I picked up the rig Thursday and brought it home. The awning is still missing but that’s another story.

Penny found her resting spot right away and is ready to go, whether we are or not.

Time to move on and do some local travel before heading out in January. This year’s winter trip is nearly set. Up ahead, look for more positive reports, bird photos, and less whining.

Posted in accident, Airstream Interstate, repairs, Spinter van | 1 Comment