Friday, August 1, 2008

Adios Big Bend...

Up with the sun and gone with wind (thanks, Bob). On my way out of the campground, I almost ran over a Common Poorwill on the road. As I made my way to Rio Grande Village, Scaled Quail were everywhere.

RGV was a location for two birds. Mark had told me the very wood lot for Common Black-Hawk. I had to get it here since I missed in the Davis Mountains. I could have easily found the woods myself. It was the area with maybe 10 Cottonwoods roped off with signs saying “Stay Out. Common Black Hawk nesting area”. Even from a distance I could hear raptors calling in the trees, but I could not see them. I was stunned that such a large bird could hide so well in such a small woodlot. I had the whole morning to see them. So, I parked my car in the shade, and with the patience of military sniper, I waited them out…

45 seconds later…”Screw this. I’m not sitting here.” I took my truck and drove to the end of the road and back. A very fortunate glance to my left and I saw two birds with bright orange/red undertail coverts and obnoxiously long, decurved bills along a hedge. Crissal Thrasher (life bird #607). I was aware of them being here, and I knew I had a chance, but I was not counting on them by any means. A nice find.

Back to the stakeout. Within a few minutes, a Common Black-Hawk (life bird #608) did a sideways shuffle down a branch to sun itself. Within 60 seconds, it was gone, courtesy of the Northern Mockingbird that harassed it.

It was also here in the campground I gained a new appreciation for the vocal skills of the Mockingbird. It was here that I decided I really need to see the birds and not pay too much attention to the song. I watched a Mockingbird give a flawless rendition of a Belted Kingfisher. Had I not watched the bird sing the song, I would have marked “Kingfisher” on my list for sure. The Rio Grande was not far.

With my two key birds for the day out the way, temps rising steadily to 418 degrees Kelvin, and a long drive ahead of me, I headed off. On the way out of the park, on the main road,I saw my only snake of the entire trip. A split second after realizing it was a snake, I accidently ran it over. There was no way to stop or swerve. That really made me mad. Of all the things to hit with your car, and I have to run over a snake in a National Park. Oh hell no, I couldn’t have hit a raccoon in Arkansas…..

By the way, I did not get Lucifer’s Hummingbird or Gray Vireo in the park. That said, I was okay with it. I did not spend much time looking for them simply because I had seen them during other trips.

I managed to get to Laredo for the night. Along the way, I made some quick stops in Carrizo Springs and Sanderson for water tower photos. Dinner was at a local place for ribs. Not bad. I had no idea they served baked beans in a coffee mug. Do they serve coffee on a plate?

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