Monday, December 7, 2015

Consolation Prize

Lions/Shelley Park Trails with the bird location marked
Got back home Saturday night after my unsuccessful chase of the Black-legged Kittiwake and saw that a Golden-crowned Warbler has been found in Lions/Shelley Park in Refugio. Now that's a chase in a pretty convenient location. This park has always been good to me. I always seem to find a good selection of the RGV species here. Green Jay, Great Kiskadee, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, and Green Kingfisher are present. It was also hosting a Greater Pewee, although that wasn't a bird I needed still.

Greater Pewee
I got there and someone had thoughtfully marked the trail map with the location the Golden-crowned warbler was found. Right at the trail-head the Greater Pewee was calling up a storm. I felt so callous walking away from such a good bird, although I did take a few pictures. I was on a mission with a bird to find.

I always have this fantasy of spending 5 minutes on a chase and then getting back on the road. That's happened to me exactly never times. I rounded the corner to find two or three people already there. Over the next hour the tribe grew to about 20 people milling around hoping for this bird. What made it harder is about 3 Wilson's Warblers were working the area so we kept hearing and seeing them and riding the rarity roller-coaster. We also continued to hear the Greater Pewee calling. Interesting to think these birds share range and habitat.

A couple of times different members of the tribe thought they heard the call notes of the Golden-crowned Warbler, but no one saw anything. After five hours I had to make a decision. Should I maintain the vigil waiting for this bird, or should I go after a White-winged Scoter in San Antonio? San Antonio is on the way back to Houston sorta isn't it?

I decided to go for the Scoter. I set the GPS for Mitchell Lake Audubon Center and the GPS Overlords sent me north on a mission. I arrived a mere two hours later. I quickly got directions to where the scoters were being seen and headed off. It didn't take me long to locate the site and I could see there were a lot of diving ducks present, Ruddy Ducks, Canvasbacks, Redheads, and Lesser Scaup. Then I located two scaup and was studying them when a car pulled up and a couple wanted to tell me that a bobcat was just on the trail watching me. Of course I couldn't relocate the scaup when they departed.

I looked up from the scope and there was a bobcat just about a 100 feet away. Ok I'll snap a few pictures. Bobcats are always cool in they seem to have the attitude "ok everyone just be cool. I'm going to walk slowly away and no one will get hurt, especially me". This one looks like a very healthy specimen,

Ok back to the ducks. I finally was able to find the scaup, they were hanging out with their Redhead friends. A bit of study and yes, White-winged Scoter was year bird 485. Not a Golden-crowned Warbler, but it counts the same and it does save me a lot of time watching for one from a jetty somewhere.

I decided to make towards home. It was another 500 mile day for me and about 900 miles for the weekend. The pace is going to have to pick up to manage 15 more birds before the end of the year. Where I could find those birds occupied my mind for the next 3 hours until I got home.


  1. I became aware of you big year in January when I was in Texas. I feel your pain. I am doing an ABA "big year" The parentheses are because I can't afford a real big year but it is my big year. I was hoping for 600. I am fraught with bad planing because my calendar big year is an overlap of my wrap around big year. I started a big year Sept 1, 2014 and when it ended with 541 on Aug 31, I realized that I had 500 for 2015 so maybe I could get 600. Well I should have thought of that earlier because I blew off many birds I saw prior to January knowing I already had them for the Wrap around big year. Anyway, I am up to 565 and do not now expect to get 600 but would love to get 575. I have exactly 10 possible species and chased 4 of them over the weekend on a 600 mile loop and go 0! Tic toc tic toc Good luck to you.

  2. Rock 'and Roll done the road! Hope you get the hummer. I'm trying, again, today for the Sapsucker. I'll let you know if I score. Positive vibes.