Critters Local to the Valley

This blog entry begins my attempt at normalcy here in South Texas for the winter. Actually, we’re not in South Texas; we’re in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, aka Rio Grande Valley, the Valley, RGV, whatever. It’s the floodplain region where the river hits the Gulf, on both sides of the border.

In any case, I haven’t yet described various critters here, and that’s a favorite blogging topic for me. I’m going to have to skirt around the details of my neighbor’s pets, though, to, you know, guard their anonymity. They’re not like Leland, the roving public figure. These critters will be part of my life for two more months. So weird.

Sabal Palm Bird Sanctuary

Turns out that the Valley is a birding mecca. I’m going to be vague here because I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I do know that there’s something called The World Birding Center with nine birding locations. According to its website,

Tracy’s been to a couple of the nine birding spots so far and participated in the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count. He’s really enjoying himself.

So are other birders; guys with fancy binoculars stalk our rv park at sunset to watch the flocks of red crowned parrots come in to roost. The groundskeeper here nursed a baby one after an avocado tree incident, and I’m watching his trailer for when he puts its cage out in the evenings.

In the meantime, Tracy took me to one of the nine birding center sites, a former plantation (with the only Elizabethan house down here) called Sabal Palm Bird Sanctuary. We walked the trails quietly and slowly. This is new for me, since I like to forge ahead as exercise (and sometimes to sing to myself, I admit). I’m not good birding material.

This day Tracy was looking for the green jay to show me, but the resaca is low (the small bit of water here) so we stood at the edge of the Rio Grande and contemplated how it’s more like the Rio Penqueño.

Tracy stopped us short a million times as he pulled out his binoculars and bird book and flipped through his app of what birds had been seen here today. I, on the other hand, ran up to the food and water by a watching area and scared everything away but the one armadillo that was sauntering over for a drink. Tracy and Banjo see them all the time because Tracy takes Banj on her night walks before bed, but I rarely see them.

Another case of me getting really excited over a critter that’s universally regarded as not worth it. Who cares, though, right? Armadillos are cool. Did you know they breed only once a year and give birth to identical quadruplets? Four genetically identical baby armadillos. I really want to see that.

Cats v Dogs

Just like with our greater area, the Valley, I don’t know what to call our neighborhood. A mobile home park, which is what it really is, or an RV park, which comes off my fingertips when typing easier, or the name of the place (Honeydale), which I am reluctant to do because I don’t want this blog to show up in searches for it. So, be prepared for the fancy name, “this place.”

So, the dogs in this place include the Frenchie to the left of us named Parker (after Peter), and the yellow lab across the way named Day Go (from his fancy family name). I thought Day Go really got around, but it turns out he has a look-alike cousin (name I haven’t caught yet) who lives to the right of us. All their owners are part of this big family of snowbirds from Minnesota, nicknamed the Minnesota Mafia by other residents. Jokingly, I’m hoping.

Then there are the cats. Many cats. They lurk around certain trailers, creating the Cat Gauntlet that Banjo and I walk through each morning. It’s a fine line to walk, letting her look and smell and have interesting sensory experiences, and keeping her from getting close enough to jump them. Keeps me on my toes in the morning. Like Tracy’s armadillos at night.

This one, Miss Piggy, loves people, loves dogs, loves Banjo’s bed in the tent. She will walk straight towards Banjo even while Banjo starts turning into the Incredible Hulk, and she won’t even notice. It’s hard to be mean to a sweet cat, but we’ve started shooing her away.

And then there’s Banjo. She’s not getting great hikes here because the parks we’ve visited are birding trails and closed to dogs. And because I’m afraid of taking her outside the RV park gates due to so many street dogs. So far she’s done a good job not giving Parker or Day Go the stink eye too badly, and no cats have been injured.

You remember when we spent that summer boondocking in Montana and we were seeing so many Trump flags and signs? By coincidence that’s when we bought a Grateful Dead license plate for our one extra plate position by the front bike rack, and early on we chatted about it with a nice guy at an RV dump station in Missoula. We said we didn’t really know what the message of that plate is, and he replied, quickly and smartly, “It says, ‘We come in peace.’”

That’s what Banjo’s new Dancing Bears collar says, in our minds, at least. We say it to our neighbors we’re just getting to know, to the birdwatchers around us, and to the critters, even though it’s not exactly the truth in Banjo’s case. She needed a new collar, though! And we’re cool that way. Or we have to pretend to be camped here among the Minnesota Mafia.

5 thoughts to “Critters Local to the Valley”

  1. When we were in Huston Mat and Hazel went out to the Johnson Space Centre ahead of me and therefore ended up on a different tour. We saw the exact same things except *they saw two armadillos* too. I’m still really miffed. All the cool things there and what’s my main takeaway? Not seeing armadillos. So see some for me please! Please also hug all the mystery dogs for me.

    1. I’m so glad I’m not alone with this armadillo fascination. And there was a pack of three large stray dogs on the trail today, plus the requisite chihuahua. Not hugging occurred, just me carrying a big stick!