Sunday, April 20, 2014

Apr 20 (Day 110) - Derailed.....

I am exceptionally tired after today. I woke up very early to reach Anahuac before sunrise. I was hoping to hear Black rail, but was unable to do so. I also attended 2 rail walks today, but we did not find either Black rail or Yellow rail on these outings. I had allocated 2 full days to find these birds, and I struck out on both. I will have other chances for Black rail in Northern California, but Yellow rail will most certainly not be on my list this year despite the time and effort that was spent searching for  it. Yellow rail and Mangrove cuckoo have clearly been the biggest disappointments of the trip, but I knew going into this that I could not find every bird I wanted to see. My year is not like a normal big year where I can just fly up to Canada to get them on their summer breeding grounds. When I miss a bird, that's generally it. Maybe Yellow rail will surface in some unexpected spot; Black-throated blue warbler did just that!

There were 3 things that really helped to soften the disappointment of being "derailed". First, I did find some other good birds at and around Anahuac. Ruff was a fantastic find, and ticking Buff-breasted sandpiper on Friday opens up time to look for other species in upcoming days. Second, I met many, many interesting people. A large proportion of these folks had heard about my adventure, and the support and encouragement that they provided this weekend will help fuel me long after I depart Eastern Texas. Lastly, Anahuac is a fantastic place that is packed with birds. While I did not pile up year birds this weekend, do not let that mislead you into thinking that Anahuac isn't a top birding destination. I am sure I found well over 100 species in my 2.5 days of birding. A special note should me made of the Friends of Anahuac NWR. These volunteers lend their own time to help make Anuhuac the amazing place it is. This group performs any number of functions to ensure that everything at the refuge functions properly and in the best interest of visitors. It was the Friends that sorted me out with my lodging during my visit, and I want to publicly thank them for their generosity and hospitality during the last 3 days. You guys rule!

I am still trying to figure out how I am going to handle tomorrow morning. I should go to another area of the refuge to listen for Black rail, but I really need a decent night of sleep tonight. Tomorrow I head to High Island for the late morning and afternoon. I will kick around that area before I bike an additional ~30 miles down the Bolivar peninsula where I will be staying with long-time friend and Texas birding icon, Victor Emanuel. I will spend Tuesday and Wednesday on Bolivar before returning to High Island on Wednesday night. I will be at High Island from Wednesday night (the 23rd) to Monday morning (the 28th). After that it's off to Austin and then across Texas.

I am sorry for the lack of photos today, but I really need to keep this short to get some sleep. Here are two Common nighthawk photos from yesterday. I normally try to avoid man made posts in my shots (barbed wire is the worst though), but I simply love this shot as it is. Can't beat end of day light!

***click for bigger images***

Head detail extracted from another frame

I biked ~32 miles today, just for the record. I should cross the 5,000-mile mark sometime before the end of the month!

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