Saturday, September 19, 2015

Wheels Up!

Saturday morning about 10 am I got a message from the TexasRBA alert - Northern Jacana at Estero Llano Grande State Park. Ok, here's the situation. I'm one of the leaders at the Rockport HummerBird Festival. We are in the middle if the Saturday morning field trip to the Hazel Bazemore Hawk Watch. The field trip will end at about noon in Rockport. Its about 3 ours to Estero Llano Grande State Park. If I can leave by 1 pm, I could be there by 4 pm. The park closes its gates at 5 pm. This could work. Just have to take care of a couple of things first...

Step 1. Send a message to my wife who is waiting for me back in Rockport. "Northern Jacana in Estero Llano Grande State Park!". She replies "Is that there we are going later?" Have I mentioned how incredibly understanding my lovely wife Donna has been about this Big Year? I answer "Yes, we can have dinner at the Blue Onion in Weslaco, and back to Rockport by 9 pm." Her answer "What about the Texas Ornithological Society table?" That's going to be step 2.

Step 2. I ask if I can be excused from the working the TOS table with by best puppy dog sad eyes because there is a Northern Jacana with my name on it. The answer is yes, if we will give them time to grab some ice cream at Dairy Queen. Done deal! While Donna and I man the table another friend, Bill, comes by. "Aren't you on the way to the RGV" he asks. I explain the ice cream trade. Bill says "Go, I'll watch the table". Many thank-yous to Bill and we're wheels up headed south.

Northern Jacana, Estero Llano Grande SP
The drive to the RGV is uneventful and we make it just a few minutes before 4 pm as expected. Not as expected, its starting to rain. Just as we're getting out of the car John Yochum, one of the park naturalists pulls up in a cart and we ask if the jacana is still there. He says yes, I just left it, let me take you there now! We jump in and wheels up we're bouncing our way to the bird.

At 4:05 pm I'm looking at the Northern Jacana for Year Bird 464! I'm on my A game today and to quote the A-Team, I love it when a plan comes together. A short time later we execute part two of the plan, dinner at the Blue Onion. By 5 pm we are enjoying a fine craft beer and the delicious hummus and grilled flat bread.

Celebrating at
the Blue Onion
We head back. Again the trip back is mostly uneventful except the passage through the Border Patrol checkpoint south of Sarita. I've been through these checkpoints more times than I can count. Its routine and since I pull up with virtually no one in front of me I'm counting on 20 seconds at most. Nope the agent has lots of questions. "Are you cititzens?" Yes we are. "Where are you coming from?" Weslaco. "What where you doing there?" I went to see a rare bird. "You bought a rare bird?" No I went to see one. "Just one bird? what kind of rare bird?" A Northern Jacana. "What was rare about it?" Its from Mexico. "Where are you headed? We're going to Rockport tonight. "Ok you can go" So many questions!

Anyway we make it back to Rockport by 9 pm. I didn't expect to get a new one this weekend, but a big year is all about taking advantage of opportunities.


  1. great post - great bird - great job, David!

  2. sometimes the guys at the checkpoint just want to chat!

    1. Actually I suspect he was actually paying attention, when I said I went to see a rare bird, he thought maybe I was transporting one perhaps smuggled.