Monday, May 01, 2006

GTBC: Friday

After picking up egg/bacon/cheese taquitos at Whataburger (considered good luck by Clay), he and I returned to Quinta Mazatlan to see its morning activity. During two hours of ambling, I saw the previous days' suspects as well as Couch's Kingbird, Long-billed Thrasher, Common Yellowthroat, Curve-billed Thrasher and Lincoln's Sparrow. Most of the latter group appeared at a bubbling water feature surrounded by seed and suet feeders. Clay and I sat there for a while, heard the long-bill go through his repertoire repeatedly and enjoyed the sparrow at length. (As always, click on an image to see a larger version.)

We picked up the Big Van (a 15-passenger vehicle) for the Big Day before heading to Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge and hearing highlights from intern Heidi Trudell. During the windy visit, Clay and I saw or heard Red-winged Blackbird, Great Kiskadee, Clay-colored Robin, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Black-necked Stilt, Blue-winged Teal, Killdeer, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Cinnamon Teal, American Coot, Gadwall, Tricolored Heron, White-faced Ibis, Northern Shoveler, Little Blue Heron, Common Moorhen, Great Egret, Cattle Egret and Least Grebe.

Zipping over to Weslaco's Frontera Audubon Center, we saw or heard Groove-billed Ani, Long-billed Thrasher, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Plain Chachalaca, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Inca Dove, Northern Cardinal, White-tipped Dove and Carolina Wren. Many of those species visited the large feeder set-up, where Clay and I sat for a good 10 minutes. As Clay said, "I could sit here all day."

Unfortunately, the center closes at 4 p.m. on Fridays, so we returned to the hotel and walked to Tony Roma's for an early dinner. While I zonked out for a three-hour nap, Clay retrieved Nick Block from the airport. I looked forward to hanging out with Nick, who served as the captain for WildBird's weeklong Classic team for a handful of years before grad school dictated otherwise.

With Clay at the wheel of the Big Van, the three of us set out from McAllen at 10:15 p.m. toward Harlingen to retrieve John Arvin of the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory and Father Tom Pincelli of the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival. The wind, thunder, lightning and rain made for a dark and stormy night as we traveled farther south to Brownsville. With Clay's laptop plugged into the cigarette lighter on the BV's dashboard, Nick and John refined the strategy spreadsheet for this 24-hour romp through the lower Rio Grande Valley.

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