Sunday, January 15, 2017

Five Mile Challenge

Well, I lost. For real. It wasn't a blowout, in fact I ended with just one species less than FJ. She had 60, and I had 59. Seagull Steve's total is as of yet unknown, but my understanding is that it was closer to the 70 range, and that was with him bailing halfway through to chase (and get) the Ross's Gull before a Peregrine sent that bird to it's own purgatory. The consensus over/under for me was 56, so I covered the spread, and I feel good about that.

This is my five mile circle. A mile or two to the southeast, and I'd have been golden.
I started the day at the hands down best birding spot in my circle, Roy Guerrero Park and the Longhorn Dam. Despite the water levels being higher than I had seen them in several years, basically overrunning the normally productive spillway, I was able to pull out Little Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Belted Kingfisher, and a few others. From there, I tried and failed at picking out a Neotropic Cormorant at the hostel, and then dipped on Black-crowned Night-Heron at Waller Creek. I worked my way to the UT tower, incidentally the inspiration for this documentary that my good friend Ren worked on, and got the resident Peregrine Falcon without much trouble. By this point, I needed to pee out all of the coffee I had been drinking all morning, and more importantly, I needed to begin to refill myself with more coffee, so I stopped by my friend Lizzie's barbershop for the much needed toilet and caffeine hookup.

Least Grebes at the Triangle have never been crushable before, and it was kind of hard to leave this spot considering.

This Peregrine Falcon has been reliable at the UT tower year round for the last 4 years or so.

Okay, so I left The Haircut Store and went to the Triangle Pond mainly for Least Grebe, but also picked up a few ducks and an unexpected Sora. I fucked around a few more places before picking up my buddy AJ (and adding his resident female Rufous/Allen's) and birding the ponds at the Mueller development. Many clutch birds ensued including Cave Swallow, Marsh Wren, and Harris's Sparrow. At this point, I was sitting in the upper 50's with several easy birds to pick up. I took and vigorous and much needed nap before heading out to grab the last few stragglers, and with the exception of American Robin, I couldn't find any of them. Much shame.

I may have lost, but FJ will be jealous of this Harris's Sparrow. Eat shit, FJ.

So yeah. I finished with 58 species plus the selasphorus and a hybrid titmouse (they're all hybrids here). Better than I had expected, and could have been close to 65 if I hadn't missed so many gimme birds. Black Vulture, Killdeer, Red-winged Blackbird, and Black-bellied Whistling-Duck are all birds I can get within 20 minutes on any day other than yesterday. But, that's the way shit goes sometimes. Fair enough. I finished the day trying and failing for the third time on a staked out Eastern Screech-Owl and some semi reliable Great Horned Owls at my friend Kenny's house. And that's it. I'm still tired from yesterday, so I'm going to stop writing now and fuck off to sleep. Later, nerds.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Desafío de cinco millas

Hey nerds! Look at me, I'm blogging! Many fascinating things have happened since the last time we met in the dark underworld of the internet birdosphere. For one, the Cubs won the world series! On a side note, I bested the notorious Seagull Steve and others in fantasy baseball, which not only provided me the funds to drink myself into a reckless stupor, but gave me bragging rights for an entire year based solely on the fact that I dorked out on sabermetrics regarding holds, outfield assists, and sacrifice bunts. In other news, I left my old job and started a new one. Oh, and I got a first pressing of Rocket to Russia from a friend of mine. Big things happening here in the ATX.

American Pipit in a decidedly un-pipit like pose.

Sabine's Gull. In central Texas.

Lesser Nighthawk. #goodbird
Anyways, I'm not here to tell you about my fascinating and scandalous adventures. I'm here because a gauntlet has been thrown down. Now, if you guys know me, you know that I am historically a very passive and non confrontational soul. I don't easily get riled, and the red mist does not often envelop my face like a west Texas thunderstorm. But, you should know that when I am directly challenged, I will face it with the force of one thousand suns. So, when and Seagull Steve and Flycatcher Jen (whom recently resurrected her blog, and trust me, it's one of the best things on the internet) recently came to me with the notion of a 'five mile challenge', I naturally said, "Fuck you! You're not my real dad, Jeff!" and vowed to violently defeat the both of them by any and all means at my disposal (except stringing, what do I look like, a Jeopardy contestant or something?).

Zebra Heliconian

Julia Heliconian

So yeah, here's the deal. On January 7th (or maybe the 8th, weather depending), Steve, FJ, and myself will have 24 hours to bird the five mile circles directly surrounding our respective residences. While the location of my bed does afford me the ability to walk to the best old-fashioneds in Austin, it does not do me many favors as far as diversity of bird life. I have a little bit of river access, but my circle is mostly filled with Whataburgers and the UT campus. Regardless, I feel that I can be somewhat competitive, and if not, fuck it. At least I'll be out looking at birds. So, mark your calendars, nerds. Shit is going down
. Full report to be expected from three different bird blogging nerds who have all seen each other do embarrassing shit. Be ready.

Oh, and there are pictures of things in here.