The bones are starting to creak and the nose is turning red, we must be headed into the tundra we call home. We made our final stop in Marion, AR yesterday to perform the RV winterization ritual in the closing hours before we officially hit sub-freezing temps. Asked Linda several times during this process if she wanted to turn back and flee south again…with great agony so reminded me we have important appointments awaiting us throughout February, sigh. On the good news front, I can update you on my Average Year efforts. With a few days still left in this month I’ve clocked in 173 unique birds for the young year (Ron at healthy 152). Quite stunned by that and can be directly attributed to how wonderful birding is in Texas. I’ll be turning my err… Linda’s sights on getting the Snowy Owl (link here) immediately upon our return.
Right now I have to focus on hitting my self-imposed post quota for this month. Once again, I’ve overestimated the amount of free time available on our vacation. Amazing how we manage to fill up an entire month with activities (read birding sunrise to sundown). Was able to get five out there during the longer drives leaving me with today’s featured feathered friend for the win.
Okay birders, without hitting the jump, want to take a guess on what this duck is?
Today comes with a bit of sadness as we are officially on our way back to the broke state of Illinois. Texas has seen fit to help us get acclimated to the cold weather my bones have been subjected to for the past (now) 55 years (yep, had a birthday recently). Been kind of zigzagging our way a bit. Bounced up to San Antonio to see where nearly 40 years ago the Prince of Darkness desecrated a sacred memorial dedicated to those who died at the Alamo whose remains are elsewhere. For those wondering, he did not actually take a leak on the Alamo itself rather across the street in the Alamo Plaza. According to Loudwire (link here), he was also wearing his future wife’s dress because she had taken his clothes to prevent him from doing something stupid. Doubt many people look at Ozzy Osbourne and think “genius”. While there, Linda checked the weather, saw the coming snow/sleet warnings and spun up the crazy train to get us back to South Padre Island to keep our water lines from freezing. Stayed above freezing thankfully, but definitely not conditions we drive all the way to Texas for! Make the most of it as I was able to add not one, but TWO lifers yesterday. While those are awaiting their stint in the digital darkroom, decided to get back on the bird wagon and feature this creature.
Our colorful specimen today also represents a +1 lifer for me. Unfortunately, not eligible for my “Average Year” tally as this Warbler was found on our trip to Dauphin Island last April. That trip is still paying off dividends and a quick look at my queue indicates it will be for many more posts this year as well.
I must say, this weather we are experiencing pretty much sucks. True to form, Texas weather has continued against the norm, assuredly due to us being … wait for it … in TEXAS! The cool temps shifted off a bit only to be replaced by constant sprinkles if not all out rain – Linda is currently driving through sheets of rain so I can focus on getting a post out. A week to go and I only have half my self-imposed monthly quota out. Definitely do not want to break my multi-year streak in the first month of the new year. For the birders out there, we just left the Big Tree area in Rockport (outside of Goose Island State Park). We made a quick stop there to see if the “secret” birding targets were out and about. They were, so we are now officially on our way to Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge to see what is playing in the rain there. Not very optimistic, but it is on our way and now that we are 3 weeks into the “Average Year” (link here) we do not want to leave any checks on the table. I need to update that Chronicles page, but for a quick update, Ron is sitting at 152 and my counter sits a tad beyond at 154. Ron made a nice addition to our tracking spreadsheet which shows the total unique species between us which is at 170. I expect that number to significantly outpace our individual numbers until I return home due to the fact he is picking up checks not available down here and vice versa. Feeling good so far as my year count is over half of my official life list count. There are still +1L’s (Lifers) in the queue I didn’t get to and some nice adds while down here, but still technically correct per the tracker in the nav bar.
I was able to stave off some of the BaRwW (Birds are Rats with Wings) Consortium hate mail and rowdy protests outside Intrigued headquarters with the recent non-feathered post. Decided to go ahead and throw them another bone as they are a fickle bunch (you should see their weekly newsletter).
Definitely NOT a bird (but there might be a way to squeeze one in – hold that thought).
Hit the jump to read more about our scaly feature.
I have figured out how Linda and I can make some side money. The beauty of it is we literally do not have to do ANYTHING to earn it, simply stay home for a set period of time during the month of January. Before you get any wrong ideas…it is legal.. at least I think. I’ll let you in on the secret as this business is based on something that isn’t transferable or subject to hostile takeovers….at least I think. The working name for or LLC is “Cold Prevention Limited”. Premise, those enjoying the south will pay us to STAY home minimally the month of January. Last year we brought Texas an ice and snow storm that took them out for weeks. This year, we just fled San Antonio as they were bracing for 20mph winds, freezing temps and sleet. Trying to get below the frost line, we made it back to balmy South Padre Island. That would be a Midwest balmy 46 degrees with 25mph winds. Locals are bundled up like they have tickets to watch Woolly Mammoths juggle Penguins.
All preventable, of course. Pay your Cold Prevention Limited Club fee (annual of course) and Linda and I agree to say in the broke state of IL during the winter months. Our bad karma stays out of your state and you get to enjoy the seasonably warm weather you have come to expect. Our toes will be cold, but we can snuggle in our blankets made out of hundred dollar bills. For today, need to get this post finished up before a horde of campers march on us with torches and pitchforks!
Hit the jump to find out more about this crusty creature above.
I swear we are cursed. Once again, our Texas trip has been hit with an unexpected cold snap. Been off and on while on the border – 70’s one day, 50’s next. Moved north a bit to check out some other sites and now we are looking at temps down to 30F. Granted our driveway is currently covered with snow, but come on Texas, let’s keep the boiler on until we have to head back! Meanwhile, things are still going well on the “Average Year” front. Initial surges were expected and now the daily hauls have drastically dropped as the easy adds (at least in this region) are mostly done with only a few unfortunate misses. Did tin two rarities which were amazing – sorry, you have to wait for those reveals until 2025. Just kidding, but at least until we return home. As Ron has already returned to Chicago, decided I’d go ahead and make a new page to help us keep tabs on our progress. Added a new item on the nav bar appropriately titled The Birding Chronicles (direct link here). Planning to update it at least monthly and random times in between – at points when I am ahead of course ha!
Hit the jump to read a bit more about our time with Mr. and Mrs. Yellow Eyes.
Happy New Year everyone! My apologies as it has been a while since my last post. Linda and I are in the midst of our annual trip down the Texas Gulf Coast and our days and nights have been extremely full due to traveling and birding at numerous places along the way. Thanks to less-than-ideal weather at the moment, thought I’d try to put it to good use and dig out the laptop. Speaking of weather, Ron and I got an introduction to “extreme birding” at Galveston Island last week. I am beginning to think Linda and I might have angered the weather gods at some point as it seems whenever we head south to escape the finger numbing temps at home, we end up dragging the cold weather down with us. A year ago we brought lower Texas record ice storms and snow (our apologies to the traumatized Sea Turtles). This year we once again brought a cold snap – not as frigid, but with the addition of 35-40mph winds it was downright ….uncomfortable (decided not to go with Linda’s description hehehe). We would step out of the RV and get sandblasted. Felt like a Texas face peel! Great care was taken to keep the blowing sand off of The Beast – using my body to shield and making sure to be upwind of target birds. I was thinking of the best way to describe the conditions and then it hit me … why not pull out the phone and capture it!
UPDATE: if that link is not rendering on your browser, you should be able to go directly to my Smugmug gallery with this link:
So, what would entice me enough to risk being blown into the gulf? The answer is the cut throat world of competitive sibling birding. Ron and I have decided to do an “Average Year” – our term for a big year for those of us without the time and/or finances to be considered in the “Big Year” (650+species) echelons – hell my lifetime species count just topped 300. To kick off our counts, we invited Ron to join us down here. This may be a competition, but no reason not to be civilized especially with Texas being such a mecca for birding – not to mention 6 eyes are better than 4 when out in the field. More to come on this topic for sure, however, it is time to get to the first featured feathered friend of the young year.
Hit the jump to learn more about our spotty specimen.