Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017

Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017
Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Goldeneye -- Sun., Jan. 6

Bright sunshine and cool temperatures reigned in the climate department today. Good walking weather! 

The main repercussions of our two 10K walks yesterday, were the four huge blisters I sported last night. I could hardly walk on my feet because of the blister pain. So, I popped and drained them all, put Neosporin and Band-aids on them overnight. By this morning, I could walk on them again with only minimal pain.

The RV washers came back and finished up waxing Rigamarole this morning. I slept through all of it. Bob finally woke me up at 11:20 a.m. and said, "Did you want to go walking today?"

"Of course," I replied. "I want to go to Audubon's Mitchell Lake Wetlands." 

When the RV washers finished up, we paid them and headed out at 12:55 p.m. The Mitchell Lake Audubon Wetlands are only seven miles from our RV park. Easy peasy. We were greeted by this:

This must be the most secure Audubon site we've ever seen! We were ready for this, though. On the American Volksport Association website walk description, it told about this locked gate. All you have to do is drive up to the gate, press on the intercom button and the attendant opens the gate for you (weekends only). Admission to the wetlands is $2/per person.

Audobon Center--pay admission here.

We went inside, paid admission and I signed up for my Volkswalk. (Note: I'm the only one who walks for Volksport credits, so Bob didn't need to sign in.) We were on the trail by 1:15 p.m. 

Having grown up on the West Coast, many birds in south Texas are new to us. The bird most people are looking for at this time of year is the goldeneye duck. They have been spotted regularly; however I'm not sure we saw any today. The ducks that looked like them kept flying away any time we got close.

We did have a wonderful walk, though rushed. Bob wanted to be home by 3:30 p.m. to watch the Seattle Seahawks football game. In the time that we had, I did my best to spot birds, get photos, then talk to the gentleman in the visitor center afterward about the birds we saw.

I didn't even have time to read the signs at the visitor center. Bob read them while I was signing in. Here's the short version. From 1901-1973, the city of San Antonio needed somewhere to send their sewage. The technology for sewage treatment plants had not been developed back them. So, ponds, settling basins and sewage sludge ponds were used, right here, at Mitchell Lake. 

"Ewwwww!" You might be saying right now.

Not so fast. The City of San Antonio declared the lake a refuge for birds and wildlife. Since 1984, the San Antonio Audubon Society has been doing regular birding trips to the area. You see, all the nutrients that filtered out of the sewage were really good for the birds. 
"All of that biologically active input still fuels a food chain that provides a rich feast for local and migrating birds..." 
so said Eric Brierley, Past President of the San Antonio Audubon Society, in a 2007 article for BirdWatchingDaily.com. There is still a symbiotic relationship between the Audubon Society and the San Antonio Water System.

Here's  a photo journey through the Audubon Wetlands.

Mexican ducks.
Northern shoveler at Bird Pond
East polder.
Caracara--Mexican eagle.
Black-bellied plover (winter plumage)

Snoozing turtle.

Double-crested cormorant

Turkey vulture (had been feeding on dead opossum on the trail)

Our "trail."
American white pelicans on Mitchell Lake

American white pelicans.

Yes, you guessed it...American white pelican.

Black-bellied plovers

Long-billed dowitchers.

Pelicans in Sparkleland (Mitchell Lake)

Birder's delight: Great egrets, black-crowned night herons and ducks.

Northern shoveler.

West polder.
For inquiring minds, a polder is described by Encyclopedia Brittanica Online as: 
 tract of lowland reclaimed from a body of water, often the sea, by the construction of dikes roughly parallel to the shoreline, followed by drainage of the area between the dikes and the natural coastline. Where the land surface is above low-tide level, the water may be drained off through tide gates, which discharge water into the sea at low tide and automatically close to prevent re-entry of seawater at high tide. To reclaim lands that are below low-tide level, the water must be pumped over the dikes. If a sediment-laden stream can be diverted into the polder area, the sediment may serve to build up the polder bottom to a higher level, thus facilitating drainage.
The polders at Mitchell Lake are the original settlement ponds from the sewage treatment years. There are also five basins, some with water in them, some without.

We also saw, but couldn't get photos of, bufflehead ducks and lesser scaups. Once we were past the last polder, I speed walked back to the Visitor Center. It was already 3:30 and the Seahawks game was about to start. We made it back to the 5er by 3:55. Bob made a quick trip to the RV park office and propane tank to get our empty tank filled. I poured him a Corona with lime, cooked left-over chili over left-over mashed potatoes and served it with left-over Southwestern cornbread. What a yummy dinner. He sat in comfort watching the Seahawks hand it to the Washington Redskins. 

Now Bob is napping until the Oregon/Oregon State basketball game. I'm off to watch the new season of "The Biggest Loser." And Jillian is back! Woo hoo.

How was your weekend?

Travel Bug, with ow-ies on her feet, out.


  1. Loved your bird trek. Oh and the Hawks too! Nice to see them so strong!

    1. Thanks. I love birding.

      Bob loves the Seahawks. I guess that's a kind of bird. LOL.


  2. What a great trek. You've inspired me to do a Volksmarch ... not sure I'll be doing it for the credits, but they have one at the Naval Aviation Museum that includes a few other places on NAS Pensacola ... Tuesday ... if the weather cooperates.

  3. I hope you enjoy it. I don't know what's going on with the AVA (American Volksporting Association) but here in Texas just this year, we've been seeing a new rule: no free walkers. I don't know what's up with that. Bob is a free walker and I walk for credit. There is no way he is going to pay when he's not earning badges and pins. It's still free to walk on city streets, the last I heard.

    For example, yesterday, I did two Volkswalks that were events sponsored by a local club. Bob went with me on one of them and on the second Volkswalk of the day, two friends came along as well. When I went to sign up, Bob was going to sign up as a free walker, like he has done many times in the past. However, the registration desk told him he had to pay. Bob was taken aback and said, "Aren't I free to walk on the city streets without paying for it?" Needless to say, he didn't pay and still came with me.

    I don't know whose lame-brained idea it was at AVA to say "No free walkers." Crazy. It seems like they'd want people to come, enjoy walking and join the organization. Makes no sense to me.

    I am going to write a letter to AVA about this.


  4. If you love birding, Madera Canyon south of Tucson, as well as canyons in the Huachuca Mtns near Sierra Vista, Az., are great wintertime sanctuaries. Being Ms. Travel Bug, you probably already know that :))
    Box Canyon Mark

    1. Mark,
      I do love birding, but haven't spent much time in Arizona (being a West Coastie most of my life). Thanks for the tips. I'll put them on my LONG bucket list. And we are crossing items off that list. I put the dates next to when we did each place.

      Always enjoy reading your blog. You put a lot of thought into each one.

  5. There are lots of American white pelicans on the lake where we camp host in Wisconsin in the summer. Maybe you saw the same ones :) I watch Biggest Loser, too. Looks like Jillian isn't going to have a team for very long if she keeps kicking them out. You asked about what there is to do in the Rio Grande Valley. I'm blogging today about the wildlife refuge we visited. We also plan to go to South Padre Island when it gets a little warmer. Other than that I'm not too impressed. Very crowded area.


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