Back in late May of 1983, four members of the Lancaster County Bird Club—Russ Markert, Harold Morrrin, Steve Santner, and your editor—embarked on an energetic trip to find, observe, and photograph birds in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. What follows is a daily account of that two-week-long expedition. Notes logged by Markert some four decades ago are quoted in italics. The images are scans of 35 mm color slide photographs taken along the way by your editor.
The trip was scheduled to coincide with breeding season in order to provide a good chance of locating a number of tropical species that happen to reach the northern limit of their range along the Lower Rio Grande. In addition, there was the possibility of seeing many northbound end-of-season spring migrants funneling through the valley as they followed the Gulf Coast on their way to nesting grounds in eastern and central sections of the United States and Canada.
DAY ONE—May 21, 1983
The trip began at Russ Markert’s home in Lititz, Pennsylvania where I slept the night before departure. Markert’s van camper would be both our mode of transportation and accommodation for the journey. Upon arrival in south Texas, we would pick up Harold Morrin and Steve Santner at the Brownsville Airport. They would join us for a week before returning by air to Pennsylvania.
“Larry slept at my house last night so we could get an early start today — camper packed and read to go. Arose at 5:30. We alternated driving, about every two hours. Heavy rain through Virginia and West Virginia. Arrived at Sweetwater KOA, Tennessee, at 5:30 P.M. The weather turned to rain.”
Northern Bobwhite were among the many birds of farm and field at the Sweetwater KOA campground. After dinner and before the rain began, I recall going for a swim in the pool, something I craved being able to do during the sweltering evenings we would experience in south Texas during the week to follow.