Sunday, January 16, 2022

Day 2, life bird chase, It is a long and winding road to Pecos Texas

They say a picture is worth a thousands words, except when it isn't.  Find the Bat Falcon in the above picture..can you?  Clear as mud, I would assume.  I saw the bird with my naked eye and this is already at 7x.  

David Junkin and I were on the morning stakeout for the Bat falcon at Santa Ana NWR at Alamo TX this morning with 200 other people, it reminded me a lot of the Marfa Lights stakeout as neither of them turned up.  A lot of hopeful and some passerby lookers, It was a nice morning (no wind) and after it was a big "dip" about half went home and the others scattered around the park, or mostly around the parking lot, the tower filled up with the 8-10 people on it and we decided to walk in a far corner of the refuge because we had overheard someone say it had been seen on a snag there.  I left my scope in the car so there would be less to carry.  That would turn out to be the first of many errors for the day.

So we walked, and walked and then when a few birders I knew passed us on the trail, and they were on the tower, I got the feeling they knew something so we kept up.  We arrived at the Cattail Pond over look and they were calling ducks, white tailed kites, but did not say anything about a falcon, and then a tiny black dot caught my eye through a narrow window...too far for my bins to discern, but it looked like a falcon, I took a snap shot of the bird and blew it up which on the camera is only the second one and not as sharp as I can on the computer.  "That is definitely a falcon," I said to one of the guys I did not know, I asked to use his scope and then, the bird turned, white collar, red belly, the bat falcon.  My eyes and birdy sense had got it.   Pictures are nice, but it is hard to beat a scope.

It turned out they had seen it from the tower a mile away and were trying to figure out where they had seen it.  Before we could sneak closer and closer may not have helped as that window was pretty narrow, it flew around and was gone, but bird seen and found by me, even with no help and I think we were the only ones to really find it today.  It ended up being a nice 5 mile hike.  It had been a decade since I was down in this location of the refuge. I yearned for my bicycle.

It is amazing how many people come for a few moments look, see "no bird" and then drive away.

It was time to bug out of the valley, I had miles to go and birds to seem so we went to Hertz, David dropped me off, and after a long line, (The Monterrey flight had just came in) I got the last car apparently in town, and drove north and west.  It was a nine hour journey of football, talk radio, Mexican country music, having to back track 18 miles and nearly running out of gas.  I actually filled with more than the stated capacity of the tank, I exaggerate not ( I violated the first rule of western driving), I then found out I bailed only 7 miles FROM a brand new truck stop that was NOT on my cellphone (thanks for nothing Siri!), and then later I was going the wrong way at the freeway (yes, jumped the curb driving a full circle around the wrong way sign), after getting totally lost and have two conflicting Siri's telling me where to go but to places on opposite sides of town (thanks again for nothing Siri!), luckily I wasn't killed, no one paints roads in west Texas.  I then ended up at the wrong Best Western hotel and forced to jump another curb and finally I got a room, and .........a lifer beer.  I needed a beer.  Maybe needed one 300 miles back.

I think all the flaring of natural gas (which should be illegal!) was affecting my mind.  Tomorrow worries me, I have an early appointment with a skulky bird and it is on the other side of the time zone, breakfast starts at 0530, but which 0530?  Sunrise is at 0658 and 0757, but depends on which time zone, and so can I get breakfast before I go or what?  Can I even get out of this hotel?

Natural gas flare, one of thousands in the Permian

The next lifer, a blue mockingbird awaits, we'll see, then I will need to head to the east coast

...and I have only been gone 48 hours...


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