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.


  1. Nice crushes to go with your bronze medal Big Red.

    Coffee? Napping? Friends? Fucking around? What was this to you a Sunday stroll? I mean, kudos on 58+ but this does not sound like the hardcore cholla-leg Celtic fury of This Machine legend. It sounds like you've found inner peace or contentment or something. I'm worried about you.

    1. Laurence has expressed so many of my feelings right here.

  2. I'm working on my post now. Still don't know the total...saving that for last. I do know some of my missed gimmes though...Pacific Wren and Bushtit immediately come to mind. HASP jealousy is in effect over here, as well as in Portland.

    I did not expect anyone to take a nap during the challenge, but I did not expect bailing for Ross's Gull either.

  3. Seriously, WTF? I hope taking a nap is code for getting laid because there really is no other excuse.

    Well done despite the laid back atmosphere of your day. HASP is a looker and I am mildly jealous. Definitely not eating shit. They're annual up here. Least Grebe on the other hand is a bird I cannot wait to see again, hopefully this spring.

  4. I hopped over via Jen's blog I think this challenge is such a super idea...the HASP is a wonderful bird!!

  5. Love the idea of this challenge. I might have to try this! And some pretty hilarious comments above... seriously competitive birding happening here lol - Laura