Sunday, June 8, 2014

Pooped Out of Texas...Catharus PTSD...The Imminent Hangover

Sabal Palm Sanctuary is the place to go in the valley for Least Grebe this summer. They are easy to see at close/crushable range, and word has it they are nesting as well. The only other places I picked up this ghastly grayling on this trip were Pollywog Pond (Corpus Christi) and Ester Llano Grande (Pharr).

Hello admirers, friends, frenemies, and lurking trolls...I thought it would be prudent to give a quick update from The Road. Suddenly I find myself at the ass end of another field season. I have been pooped out of the bowels of the Lower Rio Grande Valley into the great big toilet of the American West. My exit featured a bird-heavy (and occasionally whiskey-soaked) route from Austin through southeast Arizona, and now I find myself with old friends in Flagstaff. Good birds have abounded this spring, and I am lucky to have survived another productive season without slipping rank in Global Birder Ranking System. I bask in the light of the smiling gods of birding...there is nothing like it.

Except, perhaps, good whiskey.

It was great to see so many Stilt Sandpiper this spring. Crisp breeding plumage birds lie somewhere on the spectrum between Economy of Style and Facemelt. Their appeal does exactly rip your eyes out, but you don't have to look very hard to see it either. They are captivating, in fact. I must find a name for this zone of appearance/appeal. Oh, that's a Lesser Yellowlegs on the right, if you were wondering. Estero Llano Grande WBC, TX.

How about another "Valley Specialty"? Here is a White-tailed Hawk. I had a lot of fun trying to separate these from Swainson's Hawks at great distance, while soaring. My findings? It's not always easy, but at least GBRS gave me some points for the effort. Hidalgo County, TX.

Warblers, like this confiding Blackpoll, really stole the show for me this spring. I never did get the Swainson's I was looking for, but I don't mind needing an excuse to get back to the Gulf Coast in spring! Fuck! South Padre Island, TX.

Gray-cheeked Thrush was a bird I was happy to get to see more of in April and May. Catharus are a bitch, huh? For weeks I had to sit back and watch birders absolutely slaughter the identification of thrushes, left and right. I think having to see so many blown calls gave me some kind of PTSD. South Padre Island, TX.

This Groove-billed Ani was an ABA bird for me. In fact, it was the only one I recorded while I was down there, which is unusual because they are actually fairly common by now. Birding is weird. The ani was sunning itself, shortly after sunrise, in a roadside mesquite. Hidalgo County, TX.

Let's tie it all up with a Least Tern, a bird of Texas and a bird of California, which is where I will be seeing my next one. More coverage from Texas (and southeast Arizona) coming up soon. Such good birding the past few months! A birding hangover is imminent. Photographed at South Padre Island, TX.


  1. Nutso, totally nutso.

    Just yesterday I was romping around Sabal Palms, and at Estero the day before that.
    Amen Amen I say to you, never have I moved through sites with so much productivity as the LRGV area. It has been absolutely amazing, one site after another, even if it's after Warbler time (finding one Tropical variety was pretty bitching though).
    And then southeast AZ?
    What's going one with place swapping here?

    Anyhow, it's a bummer you had to leave Texas and that, subsequently, your Texas crushes will eventually dry up. Honestly, it has been overcast 80% of each day, every day. I don't know how you operate your crushinator so well, but it's mighty impressive.

    It's good the Birding Gods are sending you back to CA. The state has been under-bird blogged since you left.

    1. Congrats on TRPA, it is a bird I missed (and need for ABA). Consider yourself lucky with the overcast...its too fucking hot otherwise. But your heat tolerance is probably better than mine, as you reside in a valley of fire.

      It's good to be back in California, but I'm arriving just as the summer doldrums are taking effect. The birding hangover triggered by the TX/AZ combo is just kicking in.

    2. Bummer man. Chase that hangover away with the Bourbon.