As an added incentive, The Conservation Fund has secured a donor to match all donations up to $40,000 collected through midnight tomorrow. This means that any donation you make is effectively doubled! I know many people are waiting to see what the final species count is before they make a donation. Right now it's at 609 (607+2). If you want to assume the Red-legged honeycreeper is going to count, then the count is at an even 610. I am probably not going to add more than 5-10 species in the next month. If you are waiting for the final species count to donate, I beg you to please, right now, make whatever donation you want/can using the 610 number. It could be a penny per species or a hundred dollars per species. The important things for those who want to make a per species donation is that is gets done. Life gets very hectic around the holidays and donating on behalf of this project will rightfully take a back seat to everything else that occurs in late December. The difference between 610 and 617 is nothing compared to the difference between 610 and 0 if potentials donors let this go too long!
We're very close to to reaching the $30,000 mark. It would be great to smash threw it with the same vigor with which I smashed through 600 species this week. OK, that's it. So concludes my fundraising plea. It's in your hands now!
Birding-wise, today was mainly a repositioning day. I left Harlingen early in the morning and headed back to the site of the now-fame honeycreeper episode, Estero Llano Grande State Park in Weslaco. I arrived at 8:30am, and I spent the next 6 hours lazily walking the trails. I did not have any target birds in my sights. Instead, I just wanted to spend a relaxing day birding. In the late afternoon, I rode the rest of the distance west to Mission. This will serve as my base for the next few days as I bird around the western end of the LRGV. The next bird that need be chased down is the Tropical Parula at Quinta Mazatlan in McAllen. Quinta was closed yesterday and today, so I was effectively killing time waiting for it to reopen tomorrow morning. I will be there bright and early to search for the parula. Depending on how the search goes, I might make it to Bentsen State Park or Anzalduas at some point in the afternoon. I can afford to spend a number of days repeating this pattern. Hopefully the parula will cooperate sooner rather than later though!
56 mile back west
Outside of Tropical parula and possibly Hook-billed kite, the only other bird that I will need to find down here is Ferruginous pygmy-owl. This bird requires much advance planning since the only places to see it are on private property. I must secure permissions and coordinate with landowners and such. I am working on this now, and I am optimistic that I can set things up so that I have at least a shot a this bird. However, it's likely going to be a one hit deal; If I miss it, there won't be a second chance.
I am also starting to think about how to handle the last month. I will probably be down here in the LRGV for at least another week or so. I could then start up the coast to go grab the all-but-guaranteed Whooping crane. After this I will probably head to Freeport to look for Yellow rail. From there it's on to look for Harris's sparrow west of Houston. I imagine that the crane, rail, and sparrow could be knocked out in less than 10 days from the time I leave the LRGV. So, for now, let's assume I have get these birds by Dec 17 or so. I am not sure how I will handle the last two weeks of the year. One idea would be to find Smith's longspur around Dallas. I could also ride across texas for a third time to go look for the Common cranes that are being seen west of Lubbock. Basically, assuming this timeline I outline holds, I'm going to end up in North Central Texas around Dec 20 and be effectively out of birds save for 1 or 2 that require herculean amounts of riding in the last few days of the year. I could clearly spend more time down here in the LRGV waiting for other odd things to pop up. However, something is going to be really, really rare (not quite honeycreeper-rare though) to be new for my year at this stage. In some respects I would rather be proactive and move towards new birds than wait for new birds to find me. Yes, moving is more effort, but what does that matter at this stage. I've got to make the most out of the time left.