We have spent the past eight days getting acquainted with the Lower Rio Grande Valley, with Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, with the other tram drivers and the staff we will be working with, and the material we will be sharing with visitors. It has been a very busy week.
During that time, we have ridden the tram through the refuge twice. We have been encouraged to hear each of the current tram-driver couples make their presentations and we have heard two of them so far. We also explored the Valley Nature Center in Weslaco. We are actually volunteering for that organization when we lead the tram tours, as they have a cooperative agreement with the refuge. One day a week we will be volunteering in the refuge visitor center.
Tuesday through Friday, we had training each day, learning about flora and fauna, about the techniques of effective interpretation, and lots of other specifics about the job we will be doing for three months.
It has been several months since we had such a demanding schedule, so it has taken some adjusting. We were tired, but each day we adapted a little better.
One day, Martin, who is executive director of the Valley Nature Center, showed us this bit of fauna--a Texas Milk Snake.
The Milk Snake has the same colors as the highly poisonous Coral Snake. We learned the following couplet to tell them apart:
Red touches yellow, kills a fellow
Red touches black, venom lacks.
You can be sure that is something we will remember!
We spent most of our training time inside, sitting around a table. Here you can see Tom, Hermy and Judy facing the camera, as well as Martin, our trainer. My back is to the camera and Sue is out of the picture to the left. John is behind the camera. We are enjoying our coworkers and think it will be a good winter.
We also have been able to do some bird watching. That is the biggest Eco-tourism draw in the Valley and something we are really looking forward to learning more about. This is an impressive Harris's Hawk that we saw on the tram tour.
We saw this Long-billed Thrasher at the Valley Nature Center.
There are lots of these Great Kiskadees in the Valley.
I am really excited about the birds we will see here and that I can photograph. You will be seeing a lot of them.