Last Friday afternoon as we were gathering up our equipment in the parking lot to leave Estero Llano Grande we were approached by smiling gentleman from across the lot. He looked vaguely familiar, like some wispy vision from a far distant past. As he came closer it was obvious it was no gentleman - it was Brian! my buddy Brian Plath from back home in Minnesota! The last I had heard from him, he and Jutta had left Florida, were birding their way across Louisiana and were considering coming down to The Valley.
Often serious birders with time and resources try for a Big Year, attempting to see how many species they can see in a single year. There are at least two serious contenders this year for the North American year record, which would be 750 or more species. Though I am not privy to Brian's finances I suspect he does have the time and resources, but he thinks it's silly. The Big Year people have strict rules set down by the American Birding Association. Instead, Brian is trying for what he calls a Little Year, which he defines as seeing as many bird species as he can see in one year in the U.S. (less Alaska and pelagic species) without getting on airplanes and chasing individual birds. It is his Little Year and he can make up any rules he chooses, and change them at will.
We have had some good luck since he arrived; he got good looks at the Blue Bunting at Frontera the first day, and shot photos and even videos of the Northern Jacana at Santa Ana the next. Then on Tuesday we found a Black-throated Gray Warbler and a Black Phoebe at Bentsen State Park - and a few more more common birds I don't recall. The Brain and his spread sheet do.
There was a bit of a kerfuffle after I found the Northern Jacana for Brian. I was of the impression that if I found both the Blue Bunting and Northern Jacana for him it entitled me to a lifetime of free beer, or at a minimum at least Brian picking up the bar tabs. Brian said I was badly mistaken; that each bird was worth one beer. And he was buying Bud Lite. *sigh*
This is a penny post card, a computer image of a photo of a print of a photo - actually its a $1.08 + postage post card. Brian spotted them on a rack in the Frontera gift shop and said, "Hey, I took that one four years ago!" Of course I had to buy one. Later in the evening at the Blue Onion pub we bumped into three women birders we had met on the trail. They had one of the post cards which they wanted autographed. Though a little embarrassed, Brian signed the back of the card.
The Brain is now officially famous. ;-)
Just basking in his glory - Gunnar