Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Tail of Two Vireos

It was a busy busy week of birding. Tuesday I started at 3 am with my team the Swarovski Optik Wandering Hawks for the Great Texas Birding Classic Texas Two Stop tournament.  We would bird Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge for day one and Estero Llano Grande for Day Two. We started the day in Sugar Land to get in one car at 3 am and ended in Harligen via Anahuac NWR after a day of birding at 11:30 pm. We then rose at 4 am to be at Estero Llano Grande with time for night birds. We ended the second day at 7:30 pm in Corpus Christi. I netted 10 new ones bringing me to 407 species

After the two step I was speaking and leading tours at the Birdiest Festival in America in Corpus Christi, TX. I did two bird days and picked up on a major fall out event on Sunday to bring me to 418 species for the year.

While at the festival John Berner alerted me that a Black-whiskered Vireo had been found at Lafitte's Cove in Galveston, This was a badly needed review species but the earliest I could leave would be Sunday around 2 pm since I had talk to give Sunday. Later that night I got another message that a Yellow-green Vireo was found at Sabine Woods.

There were no updates on the Black-whiskered Vireo by the end of my talk so I birded very productively in Corpus Christi. On the way home I found out the bird had been seen all day. It seemed to me that previous Black-whiskered Vireo had usually stuck around for 2-3 days so I decided to try for it in the morning. There were not reports one way or the other for the Yellow-green Vireo.

Black-whiskered Vireo
I made it to Lafitte's Cove by 7:45 am and began the search. While crossing the board walk I could hear a Prairie Warbler singing for Year Bird 419. A nice start. During the festival I kept mostly incidental checklists because of the way a big day with a group works and decided I needed to so some complete ones so I make a circle saying hello to many friends there. On my circle I found Bay-breasted Warbler for Year Bird 420,

We spread out looking when my friend David Hanson called me over and told me he just had it. We soon located it. Black-whisked Vireo was Year Bird 421.

Bay-breasted Warbler
It was still early so I decided to check out Corps Woods and then head over to the Bolivar Flats looking for a White-rumped Sandpiper. Corps Woods was pretty good, but nothing new. I was about to head for the ferry but then I got a message from Steve Mayes that he had just found the Yellow-green Vireo at Sabine Woods.

I was on the way, It was 11:30 am now and my GPS Overloards said I would arrive about 1:45 pm. I hurried.

Once there I found Steve and got details on where the bird was seen. I began my vigil, circling the area over and over like a pilgrim making a religious quest. At first I wasn't seeing any vireos then I found a couple of  Red-eyed Vireos.

I chatted up everyone I met, let them know what I was looking for. Surprisingly most were far more interested in a Cape May Warbler that was being reported. I found a report that the vireo hand been seen about an hour before I got there.

I decided I would leave at 4 pm and return tomorrow if I missed the bird today. I expended my search, then there was some excitement, someone found it but lost it. We keep searching and I decided to check the mulberry tree where it had been seen earlier. While I was scanning one of the birders I chatted up came and found me and let me know it was at the drip. I shot off to the drip and was able to get a brief but solid view, but alas no picture. Still Yellow-green Vireo was Year Bird 422. I checked the time it was 3:50 as I headed to the car, wondering how many people had seen both Black-whiskered Vireo and Yellow-green Vireo on the same day in Texas?

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