Saturday, December 12, 2015

With a Little Help from my Friends

Broad-billed Hummingbird
I got a message on December 4th that there was a Broad-billed Hummngbird in the Davis Mountains. First it was going to get banded and then hopefully it would stick around. It wasn't seen on the 5th, but it reappeared in the 6th. ShepDawg got it on the 6th. Now I had to wait all week before I had a chance to try for it.

Balmorhea Cemetery
My plan was to head out after work, spend the night in Junction and get an early start and get to the area at sunrise. That went pretty good and I had some time so I decided to make a quick try for Sagebrush Sparrow at the Balmorhea Cemetery. I spent abut 20 minutes there and no Sagebrush Sparrow.

I will try again tomorrow. On to the main event. I headed to the residence of the hummer and as soon as I walked into the yard I saw it at the feeder. When chasing the Golden-crowned Warbler I mentioned my fantasy of a chase where I just walk up to it. This was the dream come true. I got the bird within 1 minute of getting there. Broad-billed Hummingbird was Year Bird 486. I spent the next 10 minutes getting some good pictures then I headed out to the Nature Conservancy's Davis Mountains Preserve to take advantage of the open day.

Western Bluebird
Locke Gap,
TNC Davis Mountains Preserve
I consulted with the volunteers there and they suggested the Locke Gap Road as a good option. I was on the trail by 10:30 am, not bad. At first it was very quite. The found the first of several flocks of Western Bluebirds. Dark-eyed Juncos were numerous. I got all the way to Locke Gap and it was a great view. I headed back. I heard a Ladder-backed Woodpecker. While looking for it I found a group of Acorn Woodpeckers. Then a Flicker joined the party. Then I spotted a dark woodpecker with a white wing patch that had white stripes on the face instead of the light front and throat of an Acron Woodpecker. Williamson's Sapsucker was Year Bird 487. I finished the four mile hike with 25 species including Mountain Chickadee.

I tried next for Baird's Sparrow. I had two historic sites for Baird's and they turn out to be the two sites I suspect I had Baird's back in January. I walked a couple of miles of grass on the side of the road. I flushed Cactus Wrens out of the grass several times, but not a single sparrow for my effort.

Front rolling over the Davis Mountains
I decided to make a run for Balmorhea and see what was on the lake. I was racing the front coming in. Behind me it was looking ugly. I was cruising along at 60 mpg what I thought was the speed limit just north of Fort Davis when I passed a trooper thinking nothing of it. He turned on the overheads immediately and I had no doubt he meant me since there was no one else in sight. I pulled over and he informed me I was doing 62 in a 55. He looked at the camera and binoculars an asked if I was out taking pictures. I told him the story of my big year and showed him the pictures of the Broad-billed Hummingbird. He asked me if I'd seen Montezuma's Quail and I told I had but not this trip. He had been looking for them and had never seen them. I gave him some tips on where to see them. Oh and he decided to give me a warning. Positive vibes! By then though it was clear I wouldn't beat the rain to Balmorhea and I headed into Alpine. Tomorrow is going to be a very windy day!


  1. Good going. Congrats on the birds. Glad you got the sapsucker.

  2. Your photo of the Broad-billed is great! I'm envious. Maybe I'll have to run over there and try again for a better photo.

  3. Are you including introduced species in your year list total? I have 486 native species for my year list in California so far.