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      Nature Report: Valley Wildlife

      What a great time of year to enjoy a beautiful sunrise on South Padre Island or do some bird watching at Bentsen State Park south of Mission.

      The first day of fall is officially a couple of weeks away, and wildlife is stirring throughout the Valley outdoors from Falcon State Park west of Rio Grande city to Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge on the coast.

      And you certainly don TMt have to own a big ranch to enjoy the wonders of nature in deep South Texas.

      The Valley is one of the fastest growing areas in the nation, but despite the burgeoning population there are some natural treasures tucked away just on the outskirts of nearly every Valley city.

      We are fortunate in southernmost Texas to have some 25 miles of open beach to travel, and the surf fishing is at its best during the fall months.

      If it TMs whitetail deer you want to see, then Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife refuge east of Rio Hondo is the place to go.

      The approximately 40,000 acres of habitat along the coast is already hosting early arriving teal and other shorebirds, and the wetlands are also home to a healthy population of alligators.

      One of the best places to see deer in the Valley is not even a wildlife refuge, but Port Mansfield.

      And if you want to see fawns, most of which are still sporting their spots, then try an early morning or late afternoon drive around town.

      But you don't even have to leave your house to enjoy Valley wildlife, as a little water, habitat and food will attract a variety of birds you can enjoy on a daily basis right in your own backyard.