South Padre Island, TX

3 July 2006

Today we proved that animals are more intelligent then we are. The weather was in the mid 90s and the humidity felt about the same. The threat of rain was low so we decided to go to the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is located on the mainland about 20 miles from the campground. Laguna Atascosa has several walking/biking trails and two driving routes. When we got into the Visitor Center parking lot we heard the songs of many birds and thought we might have a good day. This turned out to be a teaser. The first trail we walked was right near the Visitor center. We were told that there was an alligator sighted along the trail... we didn't see a thing. We got into the car and drive along Lakeside Drive which leads to Laguna Atascosa and saw nothing. At the end of the Drive we walked the trail to Alligator Pond which, we were told, contained alligators... nothing. We then drove along Bayside Drive which runs along wetlands, grasslands, thorny thickets and Laguna Madre. We saw some birds (heard a lot of others) and one lone coyote, the only mammal we spotted.

So what was the lesson we learned? The animals are smart enough to stay in the shade when the sun is high and it is hot and that is what we should have done. We learned that the best time to spot animals in this area is in the early morning and late afternoon.

The refuge terrain is mostly grass, wetlands (now dry), thickets and shallow lake (mostly dry)
Yucca stands out in the flat terrain
Alligator Pond was dry with a few shallow holes that didn't seem to support any alligators (l). A track leads from the pond to Laguna Atascosa. (r)
The closest we came to an ocelot
The only mammal we spotted, a lone coyote

Birds We Spotted

Not being experts, we could not identify all of the birds. Anyone wishing to identify the birds can write to us and we will place identifying captions.
Great Egret
Sam stalking his prey