Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Our travel plans...

A few folks have asked where we think we'll travel to during the course of Our Big Year 2012. That's a good question... and something that we're opting to keep as fluid as possible. However, we can fill you in on a couple of stone-cold, lead-pipe locks. We're starting off 2012 with a day and a half in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. We're hoping to get at least two of the four to five rarities that are down their now. In mid-January, we're heading to California and taking our first pelagic trip - a half-day cruise starting from Dana Point. 

The R/V Sea Explorer... our chariot to SoCal seabirds.
In February, we're looking at the possibilities of attending either the Laredo Birding Festival in south Texas or the Sax-Zim Birding Festival near Duluth, MN. We're not sure which yet, but we did just purchase new cold-weather hiking boots! In April/May, we will be down at High Island as much as we can. Unfortunately, that period coincides with a busy time for me at work. I would guess we would make at least one late April trip and one early May trip... with special consideration given to 'fallouts' when applicable. 
The rest of the year is still up in the air. I know we'll get to southern Arizona at least once... maybe twice. We've been talking about Maine's Acadia Birding Festival in June as a possible trip... as well as Key West. I'd bet we'll see another pelagic trip or two in there somewhere.
We'll be sure and keep everyone abreast as to our whereabouts and travel plans once they are locked in. For now, we're just champing at the bit to get back down to the LRGV and start Our Big Year 2012 off with a bang!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Soggy and cold in the LRGV

The weather was not ideal for our trip down to the LRGV. Using Harlingen as our base, we hit Bensen-Rio Grande, Estero Llano and Santa Ana NWR over the course of the extended Christmas weekend. We were able to see plenty of the Black-vented Oriole, who put on a show at the feeders near the Nature Center at Bensen. However, we did strike out on the Rose-throated Becard, Golden-crowned Warbler and Crimson-collared Grosbeak. The curious find of the trip was a female Painted Bunting hanging out near the hummingbird feeders at Estero Llano. 

We want to thank Mark and Joanie Hubinger for taking us around at Santa Ana in the muck... including the sizeable trek to Cattail Lakes to see the Mountain Bluebirds. The female was present, but the male was not... leading us to question if something might have happened to him since they had always been seen together since their discovery.

We're fairly certain that we'll be going back to the LRGV next weekend to kick off Our Big Year 2012 if the rarity sightings continue. Seems like the logical place to start... weather permitting! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bird buzz in Qatar

As I predicted, no time for birds for me in Qatar apart from out the window from the backseat of idling taxis... which did produce various sparrows, doves, mynahs, etc... However, the big bird story from my trip landed on the front page! The day arrived in Doha I was handed a copy of the Gulf Times from a colleague who said I'd be interested in one of the tales on the front. Sure enough, at the bottom of the front page was a story about a Jacobin Cuckoo. It, along with a Eurasian Golden Plover, had been found in Qatar... for the first time... ever. That bit of news, along with my current leisure reading - To See Every Bird On Earth by Dan Koeppel - has led me to conclude this solitary truth: Birding truly knows no bounds. We leave on 22 December for the LRGV. Looking forward to it!