As for today, it was time to make some big distance north. It was difficult to leave the LRGV behind, particularly on weekend when rarities are most likely to be found, but the SE winds were too good to pass up. The ride was very uneventful as it was over 100 miles along the same road with the same view. Here is that view. With partly cloudy skies and temps in the mid 70s, it was really pleasant on the road today.
107 miles north
My destination for the night was the Best Western in Kingsville. There was one stop I needed to make before heading to the hotel. Northern bobwhite is one bit of unfinished business for me. I heard plenty of these on the Texas coast in the spring, but I did not see a single one. I just assumed that I would scare one off the road at some point. That time never came, and the bird has sat on the year list as my only diurnal 'heard-only' bird of the year since then. In speaking with Tom L. of Ferrugiouns pygmy-owl fame, he mentioned that bobwhite frequent the area around the King Ranch visitor center in Kingsville. He suggested I swing by the center when I arrived in town. I managed to find the extra strength to do just this, and I was rewarded with a single female bobwhite. So, that bird is now officially "seen" versus heard-only. This leaves me with 6 'heard-only' birds - all nocturnal.
1 - Black rail
2 - Chuck-will's-widow
3 - Common poorwill
4 - Mexican whip-poor-will
5 - Buff-colored nightjar - I actually saw this bird for 0.1 seconds, but the ID was 100% based only on voice.
6 - Barred owl - This was another bird I just figured I would see at some point (aka Florida). I only managed to hear 2, and they were well away across a creek I could not cross. I might try to track this bird if I have a bit of free time in the next few days.
Bobwhite sprinting away!
Lastly, as I said above, it was tough to leave the LRGV and it's rarities to head north. My spirits would buoyed by 2 exciting reports that came today from the northern areas of Texas to which I am headed. The first of these was of Little gull on a lake outside Dallas. From the post, it sounds like this bird might have been around the same area for a decent chunk of last winter. If this is the case, then I would definitely chase this bird if it is still around when I am done with Harris's sparrow in a week or so. This chase might pair nicely with a Smith's longspur chase into Northern Texas or Oklahoma during the last week of the year.
Second, the Port Lavaca American flamingo has finally resurfaced! It was seen about 5 weeks ago, but then disappeared until today when the bird was seen in its usual spot behind the Alcoa plant. The problem? You need a boat to reach the area where the bird was seen, and no access can be had from the Alcoa plant. There is no publicly accessible land/road from which I can scan the bay for the bird. My only chance for this bird is to get my hands on a kayak. I actually have someone who has offered to help me on this front, but I am fairly certain it has to be on the weekend. As Port Lavaca is ~135 miles north from where I am now, that means the earliest I could do anything with this bird given my current situation is next weekend. This would mean I'd have to ride the 200 miles up to Freeport this week, do my birding, then return the 100+ miles to Port Lavaca and pray that the bird hasn't moved in the intervening week. Unless someone in the Port Lavaca area can hook me up with a kayak on Monday or Tuesday, I'm think I'm going to be frustratingly out of luck on this bird.