Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park is a world-class destination for bird-watching and since it is less than a 5 minute bike ride we will visit this park often. Nearly 500 species have been documented in this unique part of Texas. A great place for birding as birds from multiple flyways head south through this area as well. However many birders " flock" here seeking out the endemics of the area (birds they can’t find anyplace else in the country) including the Green Jay, Great Kiskadee and the Chachalaca to name a few.
Since automobile access is limited to only park vehicles we like to ride our bikes over to the park HQ, get our entrance wrist bands and then proceed into the park. The park sets up multiple bird feeding stations to ensure the park visitors have more chances to see the birds that are local to the Rio Grande Valley.
Our purpose this day was to hike along the Resaca Vieja Trail. This is a short 1-2 mile trail with many side trails. One thing noticeable upon entering the park is the large percentage of dying trees. Not too long ago, due to a hurricane, the area was flooded and inundated with up to four feet of water. It took a long time for the water to recede and by the time it did there were many tree casualties. As a result many species of wildlife and birds left the park and are only now slowly returning.
The main feature of this trail is a chance to view the density of the vegetation near the Resaca's. A Resaca is an old river meander that has been cut off from the main channel, in this case the Rio Grande River. These channels eventually dry up but provide water during the more rainy time of the year. As a result they provide refuge for many critters such as the bobcat, javalina, ocelot and jaguarondi. The latter two are rare critters found only in the very southern reaches of Texas in the United States.
All along the trail we saw many land snails, most likely belonging the genus Rabdotus. As we hiked the trail we also saw many different animal tracks. Photos in the blog today include the tracks of a javalina and one of a bobcat. You can tell the difference in cat tracks from dog tracks by the lack of toenails visible in the tracks. In this case it can’t be a coyote or dog since it had no toenails imprinted in the track. That leaves only the three cats that are found here and due to the rarity of two of them the track was most likely left by a bobcat. In fact as we were walking back near the nature center Sharon looked up and said “What’s that?” I immediately said “It’s a bobcat!” Cool sighting this was! Even better than the Chachalacas that greeted us upon our entry into the park as seen in the header photo…