Monday, March 12, 2018

February 17 - Day 3 in Big Bend National Park - More Birds and Scenery

We started today out with a stop at the Rio Grande Overlook to see if we could catch a nice sunrise. Cloud cover on the horizon blocked out the rising sun, so we moved up the road for another visit to Dugout Wells to check out the early morning birding situation. By now the clouds on the horizon were gone and we were treated to some nice light on the distant mountains.

Dugout Wells
Dugout Wells

Two ravens were in a tree at the parking area, so I snapped a photo of them before they flew off. I already had the Common Raven, but Chihuahuan Ravens (which I didn't have) are known to be in the area also. It wasn't until I got back that I was able to ID them as the latter - another new bird!

Chihuahuan Ravens

The differences in the 2 different ravens is very subtle, but a reference said the Common Ravens were found in the higher altitudes of the Chisos Mountains. I also post 'observations' on and the ones I shot were confirmed as Chihuahuan Ravens. I also got some pretty bad shots of 3 other new birds to me - White-winged Dove, Lesser Goldfinch, and a Lark Bunting - while we were at Dugout Wells. We also spotted a Black-tailed Jackrabbit and I snapped a couple of different Prickly Pear Cactus plants which is just a very small sampling of the plant life here.

Black-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus)
Blind Prickly Pear (Opuntia rufida)

Texas Prickly Pear (Opuntia engelmannii)
From Dugout Wells we headed back down the road towards Rio Grande Village and stopped at the Hot Springs to hike the loop trail. We figured there would be a good possibility of seeing birds there and we weren't disappointed. Most were birds we had already seen, but one wasn't - a Canyon Wren! We checked out the view by the river, then the petroglyphs on the cliffs.

Canyon Wren (Catherpes mexicanus)
view by the Rio Grande
bird nests on the cliffs

The trail we picked to hike here was the Hot Springs Historic Trail which is a 1 mile loop with outstanding views of the Rio Grande River. The trail passes by the Hot Springs and the 'pool' was already filled with people, so we didn't stop. From the river, the trail heads up for the views, then circles back to the parking area which was full by the time we got back.

Torrey's Yucca (Yucca torreyi)
Spiny Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus dasyacanthus)
Turk's Head Cactus (Ferocactus hamatacanthus)

By now, it was mid afternoon and it was hot! Cindy suggested heading back to the campground, then back to the Nature Trail down to the river for a swim. That idea was hard to argue with. When we got to the river, 2 ladies had brought their chairs and were sunbathing, so we just headed up river a bit to our own private swimming hole. The 1st picture below is at the river, the 2nd is of the Del Carmen Mountains on the way back, and the 3rd is a coyote we spotted that had just strolled through the campground - nice.

Rio Grande River looking into Mexico
Del Carmen Mountains

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