I was already getting tired of winter. Ohio has turned almost gray, with heavy rains and winds ripping the leaves off the trees. So it was a delight to come down to south Texas for the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival, to bake our blanched bodies in warm sun, to feel the tropical breeze, which rapidly became a warm tropical gale.
Our first stop was Estero Llano Grande. It was Liam's birthday, and we wanted to spend the whole day together doing something we like to do. Birding. Butterflying. Paraqueing.
Noisy as they are, chachas are beloved by Texans.
One of my very favorite photos of the trip: a mottled duck in flight. Egad, look at that speculum. Note that it lacks the conspicuous white trailing edge to the speculum that mallards show. Though it superficially resembles a black duck or female mallard, the mottled duck is a separate species, Anas fulvigula, distinguished by a highly contrasting pale head and neck. Sexes are alike. This bird doesn't migrate; it's a subtropical resident in Florida and Texas. And boy, is it beautiful in flight.
Phoebe has been genuinely bitten by the birding mosquito, and if his dedication to cross-country (another of Phoebe's passions) is any indication, Liam will likely follow suit. She's all ate up about birding. Shh. Don't tell her how thrilled we are.
Liam clocks out now and then. Every brand-new 13 year old gets to clock out when he needs to. Especially on his birfday.
And Liam's. We'd never have seen them but for the kids.