24 February 2010

RGV wrap up

Weeks after our most recent RGV adventure, I think I'm down to the last post. All of the birding has already been covered, so this is simply a matter of highlighting our favorite B&B and visiting some friends in Kingsville.

Alamo Inn is essentially our home-away-from-home when we're in the RGV. Owner Keith Hackland and Office Cat Gordon are gracious hosts for birders and non-birders alike, offering incredibly comfortable and unique lodging on a quiet corner in Alamo. It's the closest lodging to Santa Ana NWR as well, so when I was an intern at SANWR, it's where my folks stayed. My folks had a wonderful suite - Matt and I generally aim for the smallest room because we'd stay forever otherwise. If we were any more comfortable there, we'd never make it out for the birding! You see the dilemma.

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Google maps indicates that Alamo Inn not just a B&B, it also has an "outdoor store" - just about anything a birder could need if luggage was lost or destroyed. There's a variety of optics, outerwear, reference materials, you name it. We're always a bit sad to leave, but on the bright side, we've got about 40 more years to make our annual winter pilgrimage to the RGV before we're too feeble... hopefully Keith's operation will still be thriving with a new set of folks at that time!

Anyway, our drive back north was highlighted with a visit to Texas A&M's Kingsville Serpentarium - we caught up with some long lost friends and learned about the venom research and how different parts of toxins can be isolated and used for medical purposes.

You might recognize those baby spoons: they're baby spoons. They're also wrapped with a thin layer of a plastic wrap type substance. They're labeled and sitting on ice because they've been used for "milking" a Coral Snake. (L) D tube-feeds a Coral Snake.

See? Tube-feeding a Coral Snake. And being watched by a rattler.

Examine the photo below. That's at D's house. Think about it.

For a close-up of one of the residents of that room:

It boggles the mind to think of how certain researchers live and breathe their work - it follows them home (dead birds in my dorm freezer comes to mind), but it's just a part of life. And every line of work is different. You know, I think I'd draw the line at venomous snakes in my bathroom. Dead birds and rehab birds are fair game, though.

Lest I leave you with nightmares from this post, here's Happy Puppy (for lack of a better name), the little fellow who serves as welcoming committee for the Beeville Northern Wheatear:

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