Monday, March 20, 2017

Two Out of Three Ain't Bad

Mount Livermore in the Davis Mountains
On Friday I headed out west to bird the Texas Nature Conservancy's Davis Mountain's Preserve. This preserve is only open to the public a few times a year. This is one of the few places you can get above 7000 feet in Texas and one of the easier hikes to do that.

I spent two days birding with Bill Sain and by myself and added some good birds, Steller's Jay (338), Common Poorwill (339), Montezuma's Quail (340), Clay-colored Sparrow (341), Violet-green Swallow (342), and best of all Cassin's Finch for Year Bird 343.

White-breasted Nuthatch
Davis Mountains
Saturday night over dinner I was looking for some Sunday target birds and saw a report that Golden-cheeked Warbler was as easy as it gets in Friedrich Wilderness Park in San Antonio. That park is right on my way back to Houston. So I made plans to get up at 5 am and make the 359 mile drive and get there late morning. I was slower than anticipated getting on the road and didn't pull out on the highway until 5:40 am. Still at 80 MPH the miles pass quickly.

I pulled up to the park a few minutes before 11 am. I had no idea something listed as a "Wilderness Park" would be so slammed with people. Walkers, runners, hikers, you name it. All seemed to be talking is their loudest voice. One was blasting the Gypsy Kings on a speaker as he ran. I know its called a 'wilderness park" but for Pete's sake its a city park, you don't need a backpack full of gear and snacks in case your blood sugar drops. If you need to walk to loose some weight, you really don't need a snack every mile or two!

Golden-cheeked Warbler
Friedrich Park, San Antonio, TX
Ok enough of my rant. I headed out on the Water Trail and just a few yards down the trail I was by myself for a few minutes and a Golden-cheeked Warbler was calling somewhere over my head for Year Bird 344. I even managed a recording before a noisy group spooked it off unseen.

I finished the trail hearing several more. I could hear one calling near the trail a bit down the main loop. I soon found myself under it and was able to get a picture before a noisy group of trekkers flushed it.

Talking to some birders in the parking lot I found out the Calliope Hummingbird might still be present in New Braunfels. I was able to get permission to try for it in and made the 40 mile drive to New Braunfels.

I gave it 30 minutes and got excited when a hummer landed nearby, but it turned out to be a Black-chinned. While I waited I scanned TEXBIRDS on Facebook and saw the Cape May Warbler was being seen that day in Galveston. This bird has been present most of a week and I didn't think I had a chance for it. I did some calculations and realized I could make the 230 mile drive get to Lafitte's Cove Nature Sanctuary with an hour or two of light left at about 5:40 pm. Time to fly before the bird did.

As I got on the road I put a note on Facebook of my plans and asked if anyone wanted to go stake it out for me. It wasn't too long before Kelly Walker and Richard "Duke" Liebler stepped up to the plate and headed that way. It was about 2:40 pm and I had about 3 hours to go to get Lafitte's Cove.

At 5:15 pm Richard messaged me that it has not been seen since 3 pm but folks were still looking. I didn't think it was likely that the bird had left before sunset and pressed on. By now I had encountered a wreck and construction on I10 and was traveling a combo of US90 and frontage road. I pulled out all the stops and detoured down FM1093 from Wallis to the Westpark toll road. I was able to see my house from the Sam Houston Parkway with about 50 minutes to go.

Cape May Warbler
Lafitte's Cove, Galveston TX
I was almost to Galveston Island passing through Texas City at 5:18 pm when Richard messaged that the bird was now being seen. So close now. A wreck on the causeway slowed me down again. With just 10 minutes to go Richard said about 20 people were looking at it

I pulled into the parking lot at 5:53 pm. I headed over to the site and folks were still on it. After getting some instructions on where to look, Cape May Warbler was Year Bird 345.

Google Maps put my day's chase at 630 miles. By the time I made it home it was 681 miles. My total 3 day road trip was 1537 miles!

1 comment:

  1. I should start saving oil change coupons to send to you with the miles you are logging.