RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas – There is a special place sequestered deep within the last great habitat. That vast stretch of ranch country between Raymondville and Kingsville, where Mesquite thickets and Oak mottes converge. Tanque Alegre or “Happy Tank” is an aptly named windmill fed oasis, where wild denizens of deep South Texas come to quench their thirst.
There is nowhere I would rather greet dawn than Tanque Alegre. It is one of the few remaining places where one can savor days opening and hear only nature’s sounds.
Every dawn is different, and on this late summer morning the shrill call of the kiskadee pierces sunrise tranquility.
The bright yellow bird with chocolate wings, and a distinctive black cap and eye stripe boldly proclaims its territory before diving for prey. The kiskadee quickly returns, and with a tasty insect clenched in its beak loudly announces its successful first catch of the day.
A Whitetail buck arrives to slack its thirst at waters edge and leisurely drinks before something startles him. After several minutes, the buck once again lowers his muzzle to the water.
It is early September, and this buck has already shed his velvet revealing newly hardened antlers.
Next up, a trio of Rio Grande turkeys strolls in for a sip. These gobblers linger for several minutes while standing in the tepid water, but never do all three dip their beaks at the same instance, as at least one is always on alert.
While deer and birds tend to garner one’s attention, myriad dragonflies beckon. Scores of them in varied colors flit from perch to perch on gossamer wings.
Every morning is unique at Tanque Alegre, and no mater how many times I embrace dawn here there is always something different to admire at Happy Tank.