ROADRUNNER IS ONE OF THE MOST CHARISMATIC BIRDS OF THE SOUTHERN DESERTS and having not seen one for a few years I decided on an early morning drive up the Rio Grande Valley to Falcon Dam. The valley’s seemingly endless franchise strip fizzles out after Rio Grande City and better looking desert scrub takes over from here westwards.
Just downstream from Falcon Dam, the Rio Grande River at Salineño was very productive. No rarities but a gorgeous lemon-yellow Audubon’s Oriole was singing in trees near the small feeding station there and several Altamira Orioles were also hanging around in the same area. An osprey was perched by the river and dived in for a fish at one point, while several more flew overhead. A pair of huge Ringed Kingfishers zoomed past and paused for a while before parting company – one heading up and one downstream. Eventually a local guy backed his pickup to the riverbank to fill a water tank and it was time to move on. Mexico is only a stone’s throw away, on the opposite bank of the river and has a very strong influence in this area. The radio was jammed with Mexican music stations and most homesteads had at least three or four election boards for offices such as Mayor. It was strange to see what looked like a completely open border here. The river was very slow flowing and would only have taken minutes to cross!
I eventually managed to find a handful of roadrunners, foraging furtively on the scrub edges of the access roads. One of them dispatched a large stick insect and woofed it down in one - being a ground cuckoo, roadrunner has a massive bill and a very long tail - it is always a challenge to squeeze the latter into the frame.