Also, another thanks to Sonia for standing in last night on late notice! She did another admirable job, as expected.
Now for the bird-related events of the last 2 days. Those of you who have been following this blog since earlier in the year might have noticed that I have not missed many birds for which I spent serious time looking. In fact, the last birds that I missed were on the Texas coast when I left before I had found Yellow-bellied flycatcher, Black-billed cuckoo, and Mourning warbler. I also missed Alder flycatcher, but, since that bird was not going to call on the Texas coast, I really don't feel that I (or 99% of other birders) would be comfortable IDing this species without voice. Even if I saw one, without voice I wouldn't be able to conclusively identify it. Incidently, I was able to tick Willow flycatcher out west during the summer. Anyway, it has been an incredible run since the the beginning of May. I did miss a few birds here and there (Flammulated owl, Sooty grouse, Pacific-golden plover, etc), but I eventually found each of them with continued searching. Additionally, I was lucky enough to see Yellow-green vireo on the last day it was present in San Diego. I rode 300 miles (round trip) to get Rufous-backed robin and that bird left the day after I saw it. Ancient murrelet appeared right in front of me in San Diego, and I found the needle in a haystack in the single Thayer's gull at the Salton Sea way earlier than it should have been there. I got all the grouse off-lek, and poached Slaty-backed gull while in Washington state. These are some of the highlights of what has been an amazing bird-finding run the last 7 months.
With this discussion, I am sure that many of you can anticipate the news that I did not find Red-billed pigeon yesterday or today. The Upper Rio Grande Valley (URGV) was my only shot at this bird, and, as I departed today, I knew I would not have another realistic crack at this bird. After all, I can't find them all no matter how hard I am willing to try. I did feel a bit helpless looking for this species though. As it is only ever seen along the river, all one can do is pull up a piece of river and watch and wait. Looking for Red-billed pigeon is thus not terribly proactive; You just have to get lucky and have one fly by (or near!) where you are standing. Anyway, that's the story on this bird. It's a real bummer to leave this bird on the table, but given the nature of the search and the complete lack of services/support in the URGV, I needed to get the heck out of there, stat. Barring a miracle, this bird won't be joining the 2014 party. I did see a number of other nice birds in the last two days. However, as a number of things on my bike have broken in the last week, I must spend some extra time piecing them back together. I'm just going to throw up a few photos of a few of the birds and leave it at that.
Greater white-fronted geese
Gray hawk through branches. I actually saw 4-5 of these the last few days.
While the above are for documentation only, these are much nicer!
They're not terribly exciting but they show the birds in their
ground-earth habitat where they are observed 99% of the time.
White-tipped dove in late afternoon light!
Putting the pigeon and the URGV behind me, I am now in Mission, TX. I have now officially reach the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) where I will be spending at least the next 10-12 days. Looking at the below, I will find the 7 easy species as I look for the 5 toughies.
LRGV will/must get (7)
I will start this tomorrow as I will ride ~30 miles east from Mission to Estero Llano Grande State Park where 2 Anis have been seen for the last week. This species largely moves south out of the LRGV during winter, but a few linger a bit longer and even fewer spend the whole winter. As the 2 birds have been seen at Estero each day for the past week, I must pounce on them ASAP. This is what will hopefully happen tomorrow. If I can take care of this bird, it will be a strong start to my LRGV leg! After that it will be time for Tropical parula and Hook-billed kite around Mission/McAllen. Falcon will be dealt with closer to the coast, and Pygmy-owl will be handled after that (possibly on the King Ranch). One bird at a time, one bird at a time..........
Here are the maps from the last two days.
Nov 25 - just 14 miles around Falcon/Salineno
Nov 26 - 62 miles to Mission, TX
Feeder watching at Salineno with Larry, Yvonne, Cheryl, and Don (L > R)