Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A day of discoveries

Wednesday's drive to the Valley International Airport in Harlingen finally included a conspicuously absent bird: Loggerhead Shrike. I couldn't believe that we hadn't seen one during the three previous days, but I saw one fly up to a telephone wire while speeding north on 509. Those little "butcher birds" are so cool.

At the airport, I discovered that the video-game alcove (next to the rental-car counter) includes Galaga, a teenage favorite. It provided a few minutes of diversion (after being bitten relentlessly by mosquitoes -- despite insect repellent -- I did relish killing the virtual bugs).

Another discovery at the airport also provided visual enjoyment -- a display of photographs from The Valley Land Fund's 1998 wildlife contest.
The mission of The Valley Land Fund, a 501(c)(3) land trust, is to preserve, enhance and expand the native wildlife habitat of the Lower Rio Grande Valley through education, land ownership and the creation of economic incentives for preservation.

The goal of our photo contests is to create a partnership among businesses, private landowners and wildlife photographers, where all participants benefit while promoting the conservation and protection of wildlife and habitat.

Landowners and photographers compete as teams and share equally in the significant prize money. Additionally, they promote wildlife conservation while participating in the most challenging wildlife photo contest in the world.
Next to the airlines' check-in counters, the dozens of images depicted birds, mammals, reptiles and insects. In addition to the great pictures, I enjoyed seeing familiar names among the contest's participating photographers and the promotion of private landowners' role in habitat and wildlife conservation.

Back in Orange County, California, new-to-me birds appeared during a dusk walk around the neighborhood. For the first time, I spied a Western Bluebird and a Downy Woodpecker. My dorkwalks typically occur in the early morning but now might take place during dusk, too, given those sightings. Like BirdChick says, "You never know where that great bird is gonna be."

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