Saturday, April 15, 2017

#49 - Saturday, 15 April 2017 - Del Rio, Texas

I am now in an RV park in Del Rio, Texas. My plan is to spend the weekend on my laptop working on project commitments. Since it is "Easter" weekend, it seems like the perfect time to hole up somewhere and try to force myself to "work". This is a quiet place where the historic downtown area leads to a strange No Outlet road and ends in a former mobile home park that is now an underused RV campground. For the first time ever my Wheelhouse is hooked up to cable TV and I have over 100 channels. It's a good thing I am not a TV watcher as I'll be able to avoid the distraction, but it was wonderful to be able to watch some playoff hockey last night and tonight I intend to watch the free UFC Fight Night.

Yesterday morning before I broke camp at Seminole Canyon State Park & Historic Site (SCSPHS), I hiked the most challenging trail the park and historic site has to offer. It is posted as 7.5 miles, but with the connecting trails it is about 9. Seminole Canyon contains pictographs created by the Desert Archaic people who inhabited the land 8900-1300 years ago. You may only enter the canyon itself (descend) on a guided tour, which I intend to take when I return early next week. This hike takes you to pictographs at Fate Bell Shelter near the park headquarters and is about 2 hours long. The Canyon Rim Trail that I trekked–a four hour hike–leads you to the confluence of the canyon and the Rio Grande and here lies Panther Cave, which contains many more pictographs including the namesake nine foot long panther. It is only accessible by private boat tour and when I reached the spot from the opposite canyon rim I saw the pier and stairs that leads to the cave. I didn't have binoculars so I used my long lens (420 mm with teleconverter) to view just the end of the panther's tail, which is exposed at the cave entrance. I had expected to be able to see the whole damn thing! The thunderstorms and torrential flash-flood-warning-inducing rains that fell during my stay at SCSPHS made the rocky hike a bit treacherous and the gloomy skies continually threatened rain. Most of my four hour walk was misty and if I closed my eyes to the rugged southwest Texas landscape I would have thought I was in the Pacific Northwest. My rain jacket was left on the entire trek. I encountered eight white-tailed deer that effortlessly bounded up the steep, rocky terrain. I also spooked a canid? that at first glimpse I identified as a coyote in the split second I had just because of general size, color and movement. I didn't see face or tail and still am uncertain what it was. I later researched and discovered that coyotes aren't known from the park (at least according to its website's list of mammals) and that means it may have been a fox (the largest true fox is the red fox and this animal appeared considerably larger that the 30 pounds that canid reaches - perhaps more than twice) but I am unconvinced. A look at the website for nearby Big Bend National Park does list coyotes. I've seen plenty of red foxes and my phantom buff-colored darter was so much larger. I'm wondering if coyotes truly aren't known from there or if the Texas red wolf occurs here (I'm pretty sure it doesn't). The park website does not list the coyote among the animals of the park, and the campground host I spoke to said that canids are rarely seen in the area due to local sheep producers and other ranchers shooting all on sight. The website does list "foxes" among its resident mammal species. I didn't see the face or tail so I am left wondering, but I fairly certain it was a coyote and a rare occurrence in the park ... I am still trying to pinpoint which fox species inhabits Seminole Canyon. If it is only the smaller grey fox than it had to be a coyote. I'll never believe it was a mountain lion (they are roughly human sized and only a young female would be the right size), but I'll also never believe that it was a 30# red fox. The other possibility is bobcat, which is well-known in the park but except for a very large male it, like the fox, is smaller than what I saw. My stealth friend was gone so quickly I will always be left wondering.

Also found on the Canyon Rim Trail was a beautiful female jumping spider that is as of yet unidentified but may be Phiddipus cardinalis. I will release it back in the park upon Monday's return, but right now it is living in a jar beside me and will be photographed later today.

my 2017 so far ...


1-11    Hoffman Estates, Illinois
12    Marietta, Georgia 
13    Cutler Bay, Florida
14-17    Homestead, Florida
18    Florida City, Florida
19    Macon, Georgia
20    Bowling Green, Kentucky
21-25    Hoffman Estates, Illinois 
27    Bowling Green, Kentucky
28    Macon, Georgia
29-31    Lake Park, Georgia


1-5    Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, Florida
6    Bowling Green, Kentucky
7-8    Hoffman Estates, Illinios
9    Dubai, United Arab Emirates
10    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
11-14    Kuching, Sarawak, Borneo (Malaysia)
15 -24    Langkawi, Malaysia
25    Dubai, United Arab Emirates
26-3/1    Hoffman Estates, Illinois


2   Chattanooga, Tennessee
3    Ocala, Florida
4-15    Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, Florida
16-22    Everglades National Park, Florida
23-24    Okechobee, Florida
25-30    Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, Florida
31    Holt City, Florida


1    Lake Charles, Louisiana
2-5    Sea Rim State Park, Sabine Pass, Texas
6-11    Lake Casa Blanca International State Park, Laredo, Texas
12-13    Seminole Canyon State Park, Comstock, Texas
14-16    Del Rio, Texas

17-21    Seminole Canyon State Park, Comstock, Texas 
22-28    Big Bend National Park, Texas
29->    Guadaloupe Mountains National Park, Texas

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