Saturday, February 27, 2016

Mildly Frustrating Day and Complaining

 In the past few weeks I have seen a number of rare birds. Most are rare only because of where they were found. They are in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas instead of other states or they have drifted up from Mexico or the Caribbean, and a couple are just flat out rare. 

As they say at the Emmys ... I would like to thank the Aplomado Falcons, Sprague's Pipets doing their mating flight!, a male Rose-throated Becard in a rough unmown Alamo city park - so rare a bird that only two people in all of Texas, in all of the U.S. saw it, Paul Prappas and me. I have seen Northern Jacanas walking on water, Groove-billed Anis hiding in marshes, Green-tailed Towhees and a dozen Pyrrhuloxias on Brushline Road, a female Black-headed Grosbeak (see below), a White-throated Thrush flocking with Clay-colored Thrushes, a Tropical Parula, and of course the Blue Bunting. About the only birds that have been reported that I have not seen are the Crimson-collared Grosbeak and the Mountain Plovers. The Mountain Plovers require patience, a very good scope, and a lot of luck. I have some luck, some patience, but no scope and little desire.

That leaves me with the Crimson-collared Grosbeak. There is only one option, a solitary female has been sighted a few times at Frontera Audubon. The Blue Bunting is really a once in lifetime bird, so most of the fly-in for two day birders tend to concentrate on it and leave the rest of the park alone. Today I was really tuned into seeing the Crimson-collared. The birds remember food and tend to return. Lorna and I settled into the feeding area where it was last sighted. We were alone so the chances seemed pretty good. One of the park's other rare birds, a female (or immature?) Black-headed Grosbeak has also frequented the same feeding station. Soon other people showed up. That's cool, more eyes. As it turned out, more laughing and loud talking, hand waving gestures and pointing, and sudden jerky movements. Some had big cameras and at least they didn't set up in front of us. Other than that they pretty much checked off all the "birding don't" list.

The Black-headed eventually showed up back in the brush almost out of sight and they got all excited, pointing, talking out loud and started camera clicking. I quietly told them that the bird was obviously hungry and if everyone would just cool it and be quiet the bird would eventually come closer and they could get better photos. For a short time they shut up and eventually the bird did come closer. Soon someone jumped up or danced or did whatever the hell they were doing back there and the bird flew. Then they went back to their same pattern. A group is only as quiet as it's loudest voices.

I left disgruntled, without even a prayer of seeing the Crimson-collared. As I was leaving one of the staff asked how my day went. I told her through clenched teeth. She said someone else walking on the trail had complained and they had already sent someone back to talk to them about their noise. A strong-arm thug I trust. Too late, it had already killed my afternoon. This is not a life bird for me, but I sure would like to see it at least once this year. Maybe next time.

Black-crested Titmouse,  Black-headed Grosbeak, Northern Cardinal

The last picture slot was reserved for a Crimson-collared Grosbeak, but I needed to employ a young understudy, a young up-and-coming Altamira Oriole. I generally do not like bird photos which "show the hand of man", so let us all pretend that the half-slice of grapefruit is a rare natural occurring phenomenon.

Curmudgeonly yours - Gunnar


Carolee Colter said...

Gunnar, you should try the Laguna Atascosa headquarters. There's a CCGB there that seems much more confiding than the one at Frontera, and people have been seeing it from the parking lot and the Kiskadee trail.

Gunnar Berg said...

Thanks. I guess I knew that and it slipped my mind. Maybe another run to South Padre.

George A said...

Glad to hear that you haven't exhausted all of life's possibilities or else there'd be no reason to return next year.

Gunnar Berg said...

I think we would come anyway, if only for the quirky group of friends we meet here every year.
And you people know who you are. ;-)