Happy Tears

Well, I finally beat a trail course today that has been putting a serious hurt on me since the day I discovered it. Even owned it being a bit tired from 3 hours of whacking weeds on the lot. Not sure what it is about this course.. wait, I do know – the 4 miles of what seems like continuous climb to start and the 2x repeats of 1 mile vertical climbs at the end have my legs and lungs begging for mercy. The 3 miles on top of the plateau of the big-ass hill aren’t so bad. Yep, basically the start and the end spent traversing the slopes that has been my nemesis – until today! Of course, now I’m wondering if I’ll ever be able to make it out of this chair tonight ha. Enough about personal struggles – let’s get to the reason you are here!

Pacific-Slope Flycatcher found at Quinta Mazatlan, McAllen, TX in January 2021

Before we go any further, please take a few steps away from your monitor.  Can you still read this text without squinting?  If so, please take a few more steps back and try again.  Please repeat until you reach that optimum distance for this particular post.  These shots would be better characterized with finger paints and hoping the extra distance will hide the less than stellar execution.

Pacific-Slope Flycatcher found at Quinta Mazatlan, McAllen, TX in January 2021

Warning, tears coming after the jump.

Today we are feature a slope of a different kind – not the kind that brutalizes my body, rather the kind that has feathers and sits in trees. Specifically this is a Pacific-Slope Flycatcher. Hopefully, with the good amount of squinting you can still tell the blob is a bird. Note, this bird is often found trees so I didn’t put this in the “in a Tree” series.

Pacific-Slope Flycatcher found at Quinta Mazatlan, McAllen, TX in January 2021

Now for the interesting backstory on this particular specimen.  In January, I was able to tin this new addition to my birding list thanks to a successful trip to Quinta Mazatlan in McAllen, Texas.  This was our first visit to that site and specifically added this year thanks to seeing some rarity alerts prior to heading down for our annual south Texas exploration.  One of the targets was a Rose-Throated Becard.  A Central American bird, but can push up to the southernmost tips of Texas and Arizona.  I’ll kill the suspense on that one – we missed it.

Pacific-Slope Flycatcher found at Quinta Mazatlan, McAllen, TX in January 2021

The other one you are currently squinting at. Unlike the Becard, this tiny flycatcher isn’t supposed to be in Texas AT ALL. The Pacific-Slope hangs out on the west coast of North America and follows that down into Central America. Apparently has a deep seeded fear of the Bears and Wolves in Alaska and chooses to stay clear of that dangerous detached state. The worker at the visitor center pointed out the general area where the rare birds had been seen – a small pond area on the left side of the grounds. Linda gave me the stern “don’t be a crazy birder and sprint out of the center” look. I sheepishly looked down and we made our controlled progression to the area and found a few people hanging on the patio. We sat there a while and nothing exciting came our way (birding is hard folks hehehe). We did spot some birders at the other end and headed down there to see what was flapping over there. Upon arrival, they were talking about a recent Pacific sighting got my trigger finger itching. A Flycatcher like bird flew in from the side and landed in a tangle of branches in a rather dark recess on the other side of the pond. Instantly got the The Beast barrel on it and let go with a quick burst before it disappeared. Figured with Flycatcher genes it would pop back to the same spot after nabbing whatever insect it spotted – nope – never came back for the 40+ minutes I hung around. The camera was dialed in for the initial side of the pond which was brighter.

Pacific-Slope Flycatcher found at Quinta Mazatlan, McAllen, TX in January 2021

Having no clue what a Pacific-Slope Flycatcher actually looked like at the time, I displayed the best shot I had on the LCD and asked one of the experts there if he could confirm my brief encounter.  It was embarrassingly dark, but he took a good look at it and gave me the thumbs up.  We came, I saw, I somehow got something in the tin that was confirmed by someone in the know – check +1.  Once I got in the digital darkroom I was able to pull out the key field mark – the “teardrop” eyering.  You might have to take a few steps closer to your monitor to see that feature.

Now for one additional interesting tidbit before I leave you. This bird has a doppelganger.  The Cordilleran Flycatcher is nearly identical with a slightly more inland region that does come just into the western edge of Texas.  They were actually considered the same species until 1989.  The birds can be distinguished by their song and I am assuming the experts had confirmed that as that was the specific species that was noted for that time/place.  Plenty of room to get a better shot in the future, but I’m happy we managed to see it and, all importantly, tin it.

21 thoughts on “Happy Tears”

  1. Been in that “…now Iโ€™m wondering if Iโ€™ll ever be able to make it out of this chair tonight…” state a lot lately moving boxes, taking apart shelves, moving shelves, rebuilding selves, and moving boxes again. I moved the old xServe RAID the other day. I could hardly pick it up. I put in on the scale and it weight in at 88 pounds. 88 pounds used to be nothing for me to pick up. Sad state of being I’ve fallen into.

    Lovely photos, BTW.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can definitely relate to that. I had to pour some concrete walls today and each of those 60 pound bags felt like the Rock of Gibraltar compared to my younger days. I took solace in the fact I still got it done – will see how long that holds true (hopefully as long as the new walls do ha). Thanks for dropping by Timothy – not my best work behind the glass for sure.

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  2. Well, I am glad you made sure we had the right distance from the screen to observe this bird.๐Ÿ˜‚ At first I felt like my recent eye appointment visit and refit of my new glasses. โ€œHold the paper here, now at arm length, now look up around the room, is everything clear?โ€ OMG… no more eagle eyes. I saw you might be engaging in a new butterfly photography hobby? Wonโ€™t that be exciting!๐Ÿ˜‚ Remember to keep it between the ditches.

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    1. Ha, I got LASIK when I was much younger and that is still holding true for the long stuff – the short stuff is driving me crazy. People ask me what my desired super power is – now I say Reed Richards so I can stretch my arms farther to read the damn fine print! Butterflies are in the photography progression. If there are no birds, I go for animals, no animals, I go for butters, no butters, I go for dragons, no dragons I go for frogs, no frogs, I go home and eat waffles. I don’t put out a lot of posts on the butters as I don’t want to embarrass myself with our friend B. across the pond. Hey, “keep it between the ditches” is my bowling mantra.. when I used to bowl of course. Appreciate you dropping in CJ and I’ll try to keep the finger painting posts to a minimum.

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      1. Funny! Always a joy to read these posts and comments. Now about dragons, I want to see a post on those (first cup of coffee and I now realize you mean dragonflies not DRAGONS).
        As for the Reed Richards power, it only works for a very short timeframe. I know, been there done that! Then was told to get over it and just get glasses! Oh, my poor ego.

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    1. “Tad” is being kind, I was pushing every pixel I could in the darkroom to force better lines. Sometimes you have to take what you get and enjoy the experience. You know the paint is supposed to go on the walls right? There are some jobs I absolutely hate – taking out the trash, cleaning the gutters, plumbing, buying greeting cards.. and painting. Tedious and tiring at the same time and Linda always finds a missed spot seconds upon entering the room. Good luck with your efforts! Trying to get more of the new ones out so even pushed into the older post part of the week to post it. Take it easy B.

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    1. Thank you Cheryl. I wish I could have spent more time admiring it. I’ve seen a lot of Flycatchers in my day, but must say this one is at the top of the cuteness ranking. May just have to go to the west coast and get a better set of images! Appreciate you coming by and joining the conversation.

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    1. You are quite welcome! Just wish I could have brought you better execution, but this specimen wasn’t up for giving me any time to dial in the settings. I have it on my list of birds I need to track down again although likely not going to get one that is willing to come as close to where were were. Thanks for dropping in and joining the conversation.

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  3. What big eyes he has! Such a little cutie, thanks for sharing! You’re too much of a perfectionist, Brian! Your readers are happy to see the beautiful birds you shoot, even though you seldom get the exact capture you want! And I wanted to mention, regarding your final paragraph, I’ve read that birds sometimes change their song due to environmental influences. So maybe the experts made the wrong call? (See what I did there?! Hee, hee, hee!) ๐ŸŒž

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    1. I want to give my readers the best experience I can – definitely irks me when I don’t execute up to at least par. Luckily I can still learn from every mistake and now I try to be more conscious when I move into darker settings and change my settings to something closer ahead of time. Every once in awhile I have to link back to a very old post which has the benefit of at least showing me I am still improving. Ha, liked the final pun – still reading up on the impacts overall environment and region has on birds. I’ve known some regional call differences from the same species and intrigued by the possible explanations from food sources to even predator avoidance. ‘Dem birds be fascinating ha. Then there is the humorous possibility there was a Catbird in the area when throws all sound identification out the window. Thanks for dropping by Lisa and for the words of encouragement.

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  4. Fun to catch a rare visitor! Loved your story of firing away with settings from a different environment – you’ll see that same “pushed” effect in my shots. It is so thrilling to get the bird, that I accept sun spots, insect blurs, pesky weeds and sticks, as well as lighting challenges… just so I can say “I got it!”. Glad you got it!

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    1. Definitely exciting and admittedly in these cases I can’t be too down on myself as a lot of things had to come together to get something in the tin that even resembled a bird. As I was mentioning to Lisa above, I do try to take the opportunity to learn from my mishaps and now try to be more conscious as I move between light settings. One of my golden rules is to fire as soon as possible to get something to remember the count by and then work on improving the setting with whatever time the bird allows me from that point. Thank god for digital! Usually I never have to show those first shots, but this cutie wasn’t in to hamming it up for the camera – as you point out, I can still say “I got it” and couldn’t be happier on that front. Thanks for dropping by Sam. appreciate it.

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