Thursday, March 3, 2016

Valley Blitz

Some of you may not be intimate with the geography of Texas. Let me help you out. Texas is fucking big. Like, really fucking big. Just because a mega shows up in the state, it doesn't mean it is in any way feasible to chase it. I wish that weren't the case, but it's hard enough for me to get a day off of work with a week or two advance; next day chasing just isn't in the cards. I also like to have some kind of balance in my life; I work at the children's hospital here, which is often an emotionally and physically exhausting endeavor. I need a day over the weekend to chill/rage/sleep/etc. Thus, I'm not often prone to driving 7 hours each way to chase a bird. But, what about more than one bird? Okay, I can do it for the possibility of seeing multiple good birds. And that's exactly what I did a couple weeks ago.

This Common Pauraque is the most photographed and most reliable bird in the Valley. I have photographed it numerous times. Notice that I have not named it. That's because I'm not an asshole.
Long-billed Thrashers are most often seen posing on barren branches in good light. This is fact.
Many people don't realize that February is one of the best times to bird the valley. Migration isn't roaring, but for some reason, a lot of those birds that are abundant just 20 or so miles south of the border decide to fuck off and head north in the second month of the year. Recently, those birds included Blue Bunting, White-throated Thrush, Crimson-collared Grosbeak, and several Northern Jacanas. Any and all of those birds would be new birds for This Machine. Naturally, I blitzed the valley, hoping to score at least one, but keeping expectations in check; I am good at dipping on birds in the valley. I was joined in my adventure my two close friends who are incidentally big fans of Bobcat Goldthwaite.

Clay-colored Thrush. At another spot, I saw one of these birds and called it out, and a lady loudly told me to make sure it wasn't a White-throated Thrush. Fuck you, lady.
White-Throated Thrush, a bird that we had all been quietly looking at and photographing for several minutes before an old man named Leo yelled out "There it is, on the left!" Goddamnit, Leo.
We only had daylight Saturday to look for the good shit, and a few of them were pretty far apart. Additionally, the geri presence was strong, which made it rather difficult to sit in one place at a feeder waiting for a skulky bird to appear amidst the smell of moth balls and the chic fashion of white socks pulled up high over pasty, veiny legs. Long story short, we went 2 for 4, which isn't bad considering the nature of the specific birds we were searching for. We also saw cool valley birds, which is something I can live with. Blue Bunting and Crimson-collared Grosbeak made brief appearances that day, but not in our presence. One man did call out a Blue Bunting while we were there, but it ended up being a leaf or something (high up in a tree, obvi). Because it looked blue, I guess? Anyways, that was Valley Blitz

Something cool about birding in the valley is walking around and hearing these things calling all around you.
I suffered without having seen an Ovenbird for way too long in my early birding career. Now, they are drawn to me. I am the finder of Ovenbirds.


  1. 2 of 4 is pretty successful with melting Paraques thrown in too.
    White-throated Thrush...that's a sweet bird, one you can now lord over most of the other ABA birders, except of course for Leo.

    So, when you say Texas is big..?