At 153 feet long and 23 feet tall, The Whaling Wall wraps around three sides of the convention center near the north end of South Padre Island.
It was painted by internationally renowned artist known simply as Wyland, this massive mural is titled Orcas Off The Gulf of Mexico.
It depicts pods of killer whales, along with other wildlife indigenous to the area, such as yellowfin tuna, Kemp's Ridley sea turtles, and brown pelicans.
It was completed in only 4 days in 1994, the mural is part of a series of 100 Whaling Walls that Wyland intends to paint by 2011.
A walk through the 172- acre Sabal Palm Grove Sanctuary is like a step back in time.
You will marvel at the green jays, chachalaca, and the buff-bellied hummingbirds among the foliage of this well preserved piece of Sabal Palm Forest remaining in the US.
Laguna Atascosa Nationall Wildlife Refuge is for the birds, all 393 to be exact.
Layuna Atascosa holds the record for bird sightings in the US.
The refuge also contains the largest block of protected native habitat in So. Texas. This is crucial to the survival of the endangered ocelot and the jaguarundi.
One of my favorite birds here is the painted bunting. I have seen them in my yard eating mulberries from the mulberry tree early in May.
There are boats out of Rockport that offer tours to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.
These tours are usually done from November to March, when the Whooping Cranes are there.
The refuge is the wintering ground for the wild flocks of Whooping Cranes that total about 130 birds.
Rockport is a must stop for birders and not just for the cranes.
It is located 32 miles northeast of Corpus Christi.
One morning I heard the sound of parrots coming from my backyard. I looked out to see
what it really was out there. Sure enough it was a pair of small parrots, one green and one yellow. They were peeking down from a wire avove my birdfeeder.
They both came by morning and evening all summer long. I didn't see them during the winter so thought they had migrated south.
In the spring I saw the green a couple of times, then never again.
I often wonder what happened to them and where they came from. I suspect they escaped from a cage at the pet shop nearby.
A few years ago I hear about some parrots that lived on the west side of our city.
I thought this could not be true. Parrots like it where it is warm year around.
We drove over to where they were supposed to be living and sure enough there was a bunch of birds there with a big condo looking nest.
The birds are Monk Parakeets that started out as someones pet. Now there are several in the area.
Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is a 2,080-acre sanctuary that has trees dripping in Spanish moss. There have been 384 species of birds recorded here.
There are walking trails and a seasonal tram.
I have also seen several snakes out in the ponds from the bird blinds.
As you leave the city of Port Isabel, you go over Texas' longest bridge, South Padre rises in front of you.
It has been rated by some as one of the top ten beaches in the world. I don't know that I would say that but it is a nice beach.
Thousands of people flock her every summer to play on the island.
Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park is a 587- acre park known for its great birding.opportunities.
Night birds in particular, like the night hawk,screech owl, great horned and barn owl are found here.
There is a paved road through out the park and camping facitities.
Goose Island State Recreation Area, 307 acres, is 12 miles northeast of Rockport.
The park has a shell beach, marshes, meadows, and live oak groves.
The birding at this small park is outstanding.
There are several year around residents.
The bird that I love to see is the Roseate Spoonbill
In the 1800's, there was a settlement not far from present-day Van Alstyne called Mantua. In the Van Alstyne Library, there is a book on the history of Van Alstyne, and it talks about Mantua. Although Mantua did exist, it's location is still in dispute. When the now town of Van Alstyne was incorporated, the settelers in Mantua moved to Van Alstyne due to the economic progress of the railroad at that time. Mantua slowly ceased to exist.
My brother in law is really into Texas history, and he directed me to this site. It's location seems to acknowledge the possible location of Mantua. Is is VERY close to the Van Alstyne exit on US 75. This area is located on the service road on the Southbound side of US 75, on county road 372. This is a beat up gravel road, and you will see the area pictured here on your right. There are a few abandoned buildings, and a creek running through the area.
So the question remains...could this be the lost town of Mantua?
Texas is a large diverse landscape in which you can go through the heat of the desert on one side, to the cold biting freeze of the Piney Woods.
If you only get the opportunity to see one of the regions of Texas, you are missing out on the reason we are who we are.
One of the very good travel events calendars for the region comes from Texas Highways Magazine, and it is seperated into several different areas.
The desert area listed in this link is to the Big Bend country, which includes El Paso and Alpine, among others.
Monahans Sandhill State Park covers 3,840 acres, but is still only a small part of a vast dune field extending for 200 miles from below Monahans westward and north into New Mexico. Undulating dunes rise to heights of 70 feet above a table-flat landscape, remnants of an ancient sea-bed from the Permian period, 280 million years ago. Many of the dunes are stablized by vegetation, but others are active, constantly shaped and reshaped by the incessant winds.
I stopped and camped here while on a cross-country road trip on a week-night in May and was one of only a few campers present, although the park is said to be popular with weekend campers. It was a unique and thrilling experience to take a long walk across the dunes after sunset, the full moon giving an amazing lustre to the white sand. The dunes, which had looked so lifeless and barren during the day, seemed to come alive with the creatures of the night.
Popular activities in the park include camping, picnicking, hiking, sand-surfing, horseback riding, and wildlife watching. The park is open 7 days a week year round. There is a small entrance fee.
In West Texas near the town of Monahans, and about 30 miles west of Odessa. Take Exit #86 off I-20 to Park Rd. 41.
Monahans Sandhill State Park
P.O. Box 1738
Monahans, TX 79756
The Dove Community was once a thriving community but for the most part has been absorbed by its larger neighbor, SOUTHLAKE Texas.
Here's a bit of history on this early pioneer town: In 1849, the State Legislature created Tarrant County and the United States Army established Fort Worth as a frontier fort with Birdville, Texas as its county seat.
By the 1870's, the small village of Dove was fully developed and offered a general store and post office, operating at the intersection of Dove and Lonesome Dove roads (marked by the sign in my photo).
Cotton, melons and dairy production was the economic thrust of the community. Within the community was the Lonesome Dove Cemetery which was north of the village's church site. Like most dusty Texas towns, there was a swimming hole nearby which was not only used for fun but for baptisms, as well.
The Caroll Common School District was formed when the Dove's school district and area schools combined.
In 1951, the federal government completed Lake Grapevine, which required many families to be relocated from the northern part of Dove Community. In 1979, the city of Southlake annexed Dove.
Popular Western author Larry McMurtry used this community as inspiration for his LONESOME DOVE book series.
The 45,187 acres which comprise Laguna Atascosa (Muddy Lagoon in Spanish) is the wildest place along the South Texas coast. The landscape is a unique blending of temperate, subtropical, costal and desert habitats. Many Mexican plants and animal life reach the northern edge of their range here, while migrating waterfowl and sandhill cranes fly down for the mild winters. The refuge is a mecca for birders and naturalists because of the unique mix of wildlife that is found nowhere else.
We spent a lovely March morning hiking here and sighted many rare birds and animals, including some we had never seen before. These included crested caracara, roadrunner, plain chachalala, green jay, white tipped dove, great kiskadee, and black-bellied whistling duck. A total of 410 bird species have been recorded here, more than at any other National Wildlife Refuge in America. In the mammal department we hoped to see the elusive and endangered ocelot which inhabits the thickets. Instead we were pleased to have a very close sighting of the rare long-tailed weasel.
Tour roads in the refuge are open daily from sunrise to sunset. The Visitor Center is closed June - Sept.
To reach Laguna Atascosa , from Harlingen go east on FM 106 to Rio Hondo, then continue east for 14 miles until you dead end at Buena Vista Road. Turn left (north) on Buena Vista and the Visitor Center will be in three miles.
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