Birder's Guide

OCT 2014

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 34 of 57

October 2014 | Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy 28-C 9:00 p.m.: Dinner at a local taco place, and a tally for the day. Last we checked we were at 68. Amazingly, we were now up to 168! A very solid frst leg for the trip, and it put us in striking range of 200 species. 9:30 p.m.: Now for the long drive to Uvalde, fve hours west. Cameron once again came through by driving most of it, and we arrived at a little Uvalde motel at 3 a.m., with a wake- up call for 6 a.m. We crashed for a few our fnal list. 5:23 p.m.: High Island was as quiet as we'd seen all week. In fact, the whole day had been a very poor migration day. We can only imagine what our numbers would have been like with a good one! Nevertheless, Inca Dove, Bronzed Cowbird, and a few warblers were added to the list. 6:47 p.m.: We made up species now at a fast clip with terns, gulls, and more shorebirds along the Bolivar Penin- sula—American Golden Plover, Gull- billed Tern, and a host of others. We were on a roll and racing the sun. We wanted to get the Galveston Ferry with a little bit of light left to look for Magnifcent Frigatebird. 8:01 p.m.: Our last shot with daylight was a Laughing Gull. No frigatebird for us! On the far side of the ferry we decided to try one gull roost to see if we could shoot at night. Sure enough, we were able to get distinguishable photos with a handheld camera at its highest ISO setting in near-total dark- ness. Wow! An interesting thing to know for our next photo big day… last stop in the north. Highlights in- cluded Anhinga, Great Crested Fly- catcher, and White-eyed Vireo. Hood- ed Warbler eluded us, despite locating several, but, amazingly, Swainson's Warbler did not. While Cameron, Tom, and Sam staked out one side of a thicket, Scott snuck around the other side and got some hazy photos of the bird happily turning over leaves and feeding on the ground. 1:32 p.m.: Racing to High Island now, we shot birds at freeway speeds out the window as we passed through Beaumont. Rock Pigeon and White- winged Dove—check! 2:05 p.m.: A quick stop for gas and sandwiches. We're at a meager 68 spe- cies, but many are shots we couldn't have gotten further south. Onward! 3:04 p.m.: After dipping on our pre- scouted Yellow-headed Blackbird, we found that our best shorebird spot was also weak. Caracara and Snipe were consolations. Along the way, we also spotted a strange pair of Nighthawks fying by, one appearing signifcantly smaller than the other. Lesser Night- hawk? Later we'll fnd that the photos indicate two Common Nighthawks, but for the moment we were stoked! And this is a good example of one of the rules for the day: If you shoot a bird and think it's something it's not, it doesn't count, but there's also no pen- alty for having put it on your check- list. 3:16 p.m.: Sam shot a fyby shorebird without knowing what it was. Turned out to be a Buff-breasted Sandpiper! Sam defnitely has super-human fight-shot chops, and he earned the MVP shooter award for the trip. 3:55 p.m.: Now at Anahuac, Scott shot what he thought was a Seaside Sparrow and didn't give it another thought— until we realized days later that it was a Swamp Sparrow. Ouch! That costs us that bird, because Swamp wasn't on Sam's "blind" Buff-breasted Sandpiper shot earns him MVP for the day. Photo © Sam Galick First bird of the second day: Cassin's Sparrow at Chalk Bluff Park, TX. Photo © Scott Whittle

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