Sunday, January 11, 2015

Secret Underground Birders or SUB

When you try to do big things sometimes people you never expected reach out to you to help. Friday afternoon I got a call from an agent of SUB, the Secret Underground Birders, let's just call him "Feather Throat". He told me to follow the birdseed. He told me a Silver-backed Wup-de-do was being seen at an undisclosed location in the yard of a man recently retired form "The Company". This man valued his privacy but if I wanted to see the Silver-backed Wup-de-do he would pass my name on to Mr. X who would  arrange a meeting with the mysterious gentleman.

I agreed to the conditions and a few minutes later I got the following text message. "Will meet you at 8 am Sunday.  Come into the Smallville HEB and park in the lot near the gas pumps. I will be in a black SUV.  See you there". I confirmed the meeting.

I left early Sunday after stopping at Huc-ee's for a cup of joe and a taco. I arrived about 30 minutes early and settled in to wait for Mr. X. Right on time the SUV pulls up beside me and Mr. X tells me "Grab your stuff and I'll take you to the bird".

Mr. X told me the gentleman doesn't want any trouble but was willing to help and again reiterated that if I knew what was good for me I would not reveal the location and identity of anyone involved. Mr. X seemed like a guy who could make that a reality.

After winding along back roads in the rain and cold for some time we came to a guard on the side of the road. A few words were exchanged with Mr. X and we were permitted to pass.

We arrived at stately house. Mr. X relayed that the gentleman would not be joining us but we were going to stand under the large tree and wait for the Silver-backed Wup-de-do to. Did I mention it was 45 degrees and that it was raining pretty hard, and there was lightning?

We spent the next 40 minutes making small talk about what happens in SUB. Turns out SUB works on a need to know basis only and most SUB agents don't know much other than their feathered charges. Each drop of rain seemed to drum on my new Frogg Toggs rain gear. With little fanfare Mr. X said "It's here" and there it was, the Silver-backed Wup-De-Do preened and posed for a couple of minutes then slipped away. It was over but I had ticked off review species number 2.

(Parts of this story are true, I did have a cup of coffee and a taco on my wait to the meeting, and it was raining and 45 degrees under the tree, and I did pick up a review species and a new life bird for my big year this morning. I did get some pictures of the Silver-backed Wup-de-do, when I get the all clear I'll post the pictures. Special thanks to some thoughtful people who made this happen for me today).

A note about the year so far, even though its only day 11 of the year, its been raining almost every day I've had the chance to bird. I picked up some new rain gear recently and I can't be more pleased with my Frogg Toggs. This rain gear is a breathable but at a fraction of the cost of any other breathable rain gear I've priced. I got a complete rain suite for about a third of the price of a GoreTex jacket. I've been completely try in them the whole time.


  1. Looking forward to your pictures. I'll 2nd your Frog Toggs endorsement. Got my pants and jacket much cheaper than at Academy. Very light but keep me dry and warm.

  2. There's a reliable ALHU in Travis county. Hit me up if you're interested.