Wednesday, May 21, 2014

High Counts and Nighthawk Stroking

Common Nighthawk is so sleepy, it would rather be crushed than have to wake up. Willacy County, Texas.

Well friends, my time in Texas is rapidly drawing to a close. The birds have been good to me, which I attribute to the many blood sacrifices I have made to various birding deities. I still find it a bit odd though, when you get an email from one of the legends of Texas birding, requesting 3 pints of fresh plasma to be shipped to him ASAP.

The theme today? High counts. A couple lifers aside, I've just been setting personal new high counts of a bunch of different species. It feels feels right. However, if you are a Texan birder, this post will probably come off as serious robin-stroking to you.

Such nostrils. The patterning on nightjars amazes me. If you don't like it, you are jaded and should quit birding immediately. Develop a troll-like online personality and haunt every birding listserv, every Facebook group, every birding forum you can, but never look at an actual bird again.

Common Nighthawks are abundant here in the LRGV now. My life is enhanced. My homeland, on the California coast, is despised by nightjars.

Have you ever gotten sick with Dickcissel fever? I highly recommend it. Another common migrant in the valley, it has been a great honor finally getting to know these birds well outside of a vagrant setting. Hidalgo County, Texas.

Fact: Dickcissels love sunflowers.

I wish I could have dropped the ISO on this image some more, but this is one of the mellower shots I got this spring. So pastoral it hurts.

Scissor-tailed Flycatchers have been my constant companions over the past months. I don't feel ashamed to say that they are superior to my usual phoebe companions. Cameron County, TX.

Mmmmmm, salmon flanks.

For about a month, I was treated to Upland Sandpipers almost every day...this is something I was accustomed to my from my time in North Dakota, but to see flocks of them on the regular was something else. I had no idea they could be so abundant. Willacy County, TX.

The vast majority of them were in agricultural areas where no sane person goes birding. This one is in a cotton field.

That's quite the eyering. An homage to Empidonax, perhaps?

Solitary Sandpiper is a truly humble bird, but I am grateful to have a small Tringid to visibly feast upon. Ramsey Nature Park, Harlingen, TX.

There aren't obscene numbers moving through the Valley or anything, but they were pretty regular for a while. Now they are far to the north of us. My time in the Aleutians has prepared me for finding a Wood Sandpiper in the Lower 48 one day, but I'm not so sure about Green Sandpiper.

Yeah, I haven't been posting many "valley specialties". You're probably pretty pissed. Well, there are a lot of Great Kiskadees around these parts. This iconic bird is very adaptable and is not hard to find. It makes me wonder how Social Flycatchers have not shown up here with more the kiskadee, there are a shitload of them in northern Mexico and they do well in many different habitats. Ramsey Nature Park.

Ah, a BB&B first. In mid-April, it seemed the world suddenly became alive with bobwhites. While it is known that Northern Bobwhite populations are fairing poorly through much of the U.S., they seem to be pleasantly widespread in the lower valley. I just wish they would sit still for harder crushes. Hidalgo County, TX.

Bronzed Cowbird anyone? There are hella around here now. This bird is superior to its more infamous, Brown-headed Cowbird. Part of that superiority stems from a male's bloated neck. Hidalgo County, TX.

See? It's actually a pretty cool bird. They often become incredibly inflated when there is a female around, and can remain that way for a long time, even in flight, which induces much humor. Willacy County, TX.


  1. Damn one after another, instant gratification of crushes.
    It's hard to start off with friggin' marco of a Nighthawk and the material just getting better from there.

    I always thought Bronzed Cowbird would be better named Bull Cowbird.
    Upland Sandpiper is a goofy looking bird, like a Sprague's Pipit, Greater Yellowlegs, and Marbled Godwit got into a freaky three way a long time ago and spawned that monster. Obviously it's high on my list to see, though they'll likely all be gone by time I get into the LRGV in June.

    Sick post man.

  2. Phew! MOST fabulous. I remember a friend who lived in Kansas was super blasé about scissor-tails whereas I practically crashed on the (infinitely straight and flat) highway when I saw one.

    Love how artsy you're getting with the dickcissel.

    Finally, to Mr. Butler's list of birdy features of the upland sandpiper, I'd add a pinch of (black-bellied, non-breeding Calif. coasty) plover to the head/face.

    FIRST rate stuff. And for that I thank you.

  3. I hope that when I finally get to see a Dickcissel it is sitting in a big field of sunflowers looking all magical and shit like that. Good stuff.