Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sure, It's on the way back to Houston.

Sunday I woke up at 3:30 am and got my gear loaded and headed to Estero Llano Grande State Park to look for the White-throated Thrush found on Friday. I use the rule of thumb about not making a long distance chase unless the bird is found on day two. There were positive reports for Saturday so I decided to make the 180 mile drive to Estero for the bird.

Buff-bellied Hummingbird
Estero Llano Grande State Park
Three solid days of being on the road between 6 am and 6:30 am had me pretty tired. I stopped for some breakfast tacos, coffee, and a 5-Hour Energy. I get the feeling I should see if 5-Hour Energy would become a sponsor of my big year. The food, the coffee, and the energy boost and I was not quite perky, but at least felt safe to drive.

I arrived at Estero at 7:30 am found the location the bird was seen at last night and joined "the watch". Birds were perking up and soon several Clay-colored Thrushes were moving about for year bird 275. A Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet called close by. A couple of American Robins perched up above the group, signaling that we had to be careful about our ID.

Some stood on benches, most just scanned standing. I decided to kneel down and cover a perspective no one else was checking. I was about to ask someone to take my picture as I knelt in "prayer" for this bird. Looking through a tunnel in the trees a thrush popped into view. Browner than a Clay-colored Thrush, with a pale streaky throat, no "red-breast" this was it! White-throated Thrush was in the books as year bird 276!

I tried to get others on it, but I was in such different position than the others no one else got on it before it disappeared to where ever it goes. I understand I was the sole person to see it that day too. I sill had a lot of miles to cover that day and headed out to chase Tropical Parula.

The parking/picnic area at Resaca de la Palma State Park, Brownsville, TX
The parking/picnic area at Resaca de la Palma State Park
Next stop Resaca de la Palma State Park in Brownsville, TX. I'm ashamed to say I've never been to this gem of a park. I checked in and got directions to where the parula has been seen. Turns out it was the parking/picnic area. I was chatting with Tom Langschied and Jim Sinclair when someone alerted us that our target was being seen now. We hurried over and bingo! Tropical Parula for year bird 277. The parula was hanging out with a small group of blue-gray Gnatcatchers, feeding almost exactly like them.

Tropical Parula Resaca de la Palma State Park
Tropical Parula
Resaca de la Palma State Park
Tom mentioned that he also had a Black-throated Gray Warbler here in the same area. It was early still and I decided to give it until noon to find it. I started circling the area. I soon found an Altamira Oriole for year bird 278.

Another searcher called me over to where he was and told me he just had the Black-throated Gray. It had faded into he background by the time I got there. I spent sometime watching and I did find a Black-and-White Warbler for year bird 279.

I soon heard the flock of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and the Tropical Parula made another appearance. I was able to get another birder on her first day in the RGV on the Parula. Still no Black-throated Gray.

I managed to make 3 miles in the parking lot according to my app MapMyHike by noon but no Black-throated Gray Warbler. Alas, it will have to wait for another day, it was time to make the 350 miles drive home and see my wife! It was tempting to detour for Whooping Crane but instead opted for seeing Donna!

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