RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas – In the soft light of early morning billowing summer clouds are mirrored in the placid waters of a Valley resaca.
Recent rains have filled the ancient meanderings of the Rio Grande, and the dawn chorus of chachalacas echoes from thickly wooded shorelines.
In times of drought these venerable streambeds are often dry, but now they teem with life.
Tucked beneath the leafy branches of a huisache, a pair of Least grebes approaches their recently constructed floating nest. The female promptly hops up on the nest while her mate stands guard.
And there is plenty to be wary of as this large alligator lurks in the shadows.
Lying motionless in the water with its unblinking eyes peeking just above the surface, this big gator waits to ambush any unwary creature.
Alligators are not the only predators prowling Valley resacas, as a six-foot Alligator gar rises to the surface to gulp air before continuing its hunt. Joining the Alligator gar is a school of Longnose gar that can weigh up to 80 pounds each.
The presence of so many predators does not seem to deter the Least grebes as the female diligently continues to refine her floating nest, adding select bits of moss and sticks to her creation before departing to secure another delivery of building material.
Nearby, a Green heron crouches in the reeds waiting to snatch a fish with its sharp beak. Meanwhile, a Black-necked stilt probes the shallows on impossibly long pink legs.
From Resaca de la Palma State Park on the outskirts of Brownsville to Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife refuge east of Rio Hondo the Rio Grande Valley’s beautiful resacas beckon the summer traveler.