Friday, August 14, 2015

Go West Young Man

Day one of my west Texas trip started well, as well as it can with only 4 hours of sleep. We started at 6 am at Ozona, with tacos from the Laredo Taco Company at the local Stripes store. Not as good as some I’ve had. Anyway we headed for our first stop, the Fort Lancaster Overlook on TX-290. We got there right at sunrise. The usual suspects including Gray Video were calling.

Broad-tailed Hummingbird
at the TNC Feeders
We headed on to Lake Balmorhea. My hope was for Sabine’s Gull and Red-necked Phalarope. No gulls at all and no phalaropes either. We did get a very uncommon Least Bittern though. Seven species of shorebirds and 25 species. We were burning daylight and headed in to Fort Davis.

We made the Davis Mountains Preserve at about 1 pm and started checking out the hummingbird feeders there. We managed five species of hummingbirds, Black-chinned, Broad-tailed, Lucifer, Calliope, and Ruby-throated.

Pine Mountain Trail
Rich Koesteke offered to a take a group into Elbow Canyon to look for a Slate-throated Redstart he had found there back in June. Yes it’s a long time, but its good birding and a Big Year is all about taking advantage of opportunities. We headed up the trail to Pine Mountain. Did I mention it’s a very steep trail? On the way up the mountain a flock of heart attach birds(aka Montezuma Quail) flushed from our feet. We then spent a good ten minutes waiting out a heavy shower under some oaks. What is with me and rain in west Texas? Every trip this year has been rain and mud! After a good climb Rich announced we were going to try something he had never done. We were going over the lip and drop into Elbow Canyon bushwacking our way in. We crashed our way down to the site near the springs where the Redstart was found in June.

The canyon was about as birdy a place as I've seen in the Davis Mountains. We did find a Painted Redstart, but no Slate-throated RedStart. An adult green-backed Selasphorus hummingbird buzzed us, Allen's Hummingbird for Year Bird 450.  A few minute later a noisy visitor flew in over our head and announced its presence. Stellar's Jay for Year Bird 451.

No Fly!
It was getting late and we headed down to set up camp. We made it to our camp site I discovered I brought a tent with no rain fly! I thought, well if it doesn't rain I'm ok. Then it started to rain again.

We went to bed in a light shower and I ended up sleeping in the jeep for a very uncomfortable night. Twisting and turning trying to get comfortable I went to sleep dreaming of White-eared Hummingbirds and other goodies in Tobe Canyon.

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