07 December 2011

On to the Lone Star State...TEXAS (13 Nov)

And so after a good night of curry and beer in Brisbane with good friends Stuart and Kirsten Pickering, I was off to the Rio Grande Valley Bird Festival in Harlingen. This was my first time at the festival, and I was very excited by the prospect, as every birder who has ever attended, simply raves about it. And for good reason. It is a very well-organized festival, set in the heart of some of Texas's best birding sites. Hot off the press for me was news of a Fox Sparrow in the area, a lifer I had not been expecting from there - this was just the 2nd valley record after all. So my first morning saw me returning to the South Padre Convention Center that I had visited for the first time during April this year. Walking up to the first birder with bins raised I soon realized he was glassing the Fox Sparrow. So my first bird on site was the very bird that had brought me here. If only all lifebirds could be so easy! Then I was quickly informed by Kevin Karlson, leading a trip on site, that there was a Long-eared Owl in the shrubbery. Soon enough I was fixed in its considerable glare, another scarce bird in these parts.

I then took a stroll along the wonderful boardwalk (and bumping into Tamie Bulow in the process) looking down on shorebirds like Least Sandpipers and waterbirds like Redheads and Northern Pintail. What a fine start to my time in Texas. I have had a soft spot for Texas ever since my first season in High Island, four years ago, and the valley was doing nothing to dent this!

More to come from the Rio Grande Valley...


Lee Dingain said...

Your Long-eared Owl shot reminds me of the very first one we saw together at Pagham Harbour, many, many, many moons ago! Fantastic birds!

Sam Woods said...

Pagham Harbour: Ah, I remember it well...Sora Rail followed by Water Rail, and avoiding looking in the wrong place while searching for shorebirds on the beach for fear of your bins landing on a topless sunbather!