Texas Trip Notes: The Rio Grande Valley and South Padre Island

Kiosk selling water and ice — a great idea in hot West Texas

We drove one long day from Fort Davis to Laredo, and then the following day arrived at the Gulf coast.  On the way we stopped at the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge for some birding, but it was just not the same on our own without our expert birding companions.  This part of Texas is known for its excellent bird-watching opportunities, as it is a popular flyway for migratory species.

Great Kiskadee, Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge
That’s Mexico, a bucolic view across the Rio Grande from the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge

My husband and I both enjoy being by water, so we were happy to spend a night on South Padre Island, one of Texas’s long barrier islands.  It was a touristy place, we thought, but the endlessly incoming waves on the long Gulf shore gave Nature precedence.

Gulf shore, South Padre Island

Feeding the gulls
Laughing gull (we don’t see these black-headed gulls in Seattle!)
Once we left the tourist strip, the road emptied. Sand encroached.
Pelicans, always in a group

South Padre Island also has a birding center, but we looked for birds instead along the boardwalks and grounds of the island’s convention center.  We saw black-bellied whistling ducks, buntings, red-breasted grosbeaks, yellow warblers and prairie warblers, spoonbills, the ubiquitous great-tailed grackles, and others.

Prairie warbler

We viewed the sunset from the Intracoastal Waterway side of the island.

Another great day.





One thought on “Texas Trip Notes: The Rio Grande Valley and South Padre Island

  1. I smiled and smiled at this post. Yes, South Padre is touristy. It’s the spring break destination extraordinaire, known for t-shirt shops as much as anything. But it has lovely sand, great birding, and fabulous sunsets. I have a photo of a sunset beyond a palm tree on South Padre that looks remarkably like yours. My tree is much shorter, though. Maybe yours is my tree, all grown up!


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