Sunday, November 15, 2015

Deja Vu All Over Again

Sable Palm Sanctuary
The most tropical feeling
place in Texas
Last week at the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival an empidonax flycatcher was found at the Sable Palm Sanctuary that was identified as Pacific-slope Flycatcher. I didn't have much time to chase it at the festival and the sense I got was that it wasn't likely to be accepted. Momentum for it built during the week and it looked promising to be accepted. So after chasing a Red-throated Loon in central Texas yesterday I found myself south bound headed back to the Rio Grande Valley at 3 am. Technically less than a week since I left there last Sunday afternoon. Heck it's only 360 miles from my house to the sanctuary.

Sable Palm Sanctuary is behind the
border wall
Making good time I was on the trail looking for the bird by 9 am. Some others there and the staff there on site assured me I couldn't miss the bird. Don't say that and jinx me please! I took off thinking I knew where I was going. Of course I went the wrong way and ended up on the wrong side of the resaca.

Pacific-slope Flycatcher
I backtracked and as I approached the right location I could hear the kelseewii call that should be diagnostic for the bird. It called 2-3 times and never made another peep. I quickly found a flycatcher. Bah, not it, that's an Eastern Phoebe. Walking slow and watching low as I had been instructed I started the search. This could take a while. Wait there's an empid! Yellowish, check; eye-ring elongated at the rear, check; short primary projection, check! Combined with the call I heard and I think I can safely call Pacific-slope Flycatcher Year Bird 476. By photos look green, but in the field this bird looked really yellow. I had to take photos on manual focus because of the tangle it was in, but thankfully I was able to get some nice sharp photos. At one point it flew up close in front of me too close for my lens to focus on. After about 15 minutes it disappeared into the tangle.

Heading out I met some other birders and offered to help find the bird. It played hide and with us for an hour before it made an appearance in the open and some got to see it.

Benton Basham and myself
On my way to the car I got to meet one of the legends of birding in the United States, Benton Basham who in 1971 became the first membership chair of the then brand new American Birding Association. In 1983 he was the first to break 700 with a 711 North American Big Year. A feat only 12 people have done to date.

Another shot of the flycatcher

1 comment:

  1. Excellent. I'm in Fla and got 624 Scrub-Jay and 625 Limpkin.