Thursday, November 8, 2012

The dark before the dawn

The festival field trips start before the sun comes up. John's bus left at 5 AM, mine at 6 AM, Thursday, November 8th. It is very dark when you start out and then comes the dawn. John wanted a picture of the White-Collared Seedeater so he went on the seedeater tour. They arrived up in Zapata county at La Laja and were greeted by the owner. There was a lot of staring into weedy patches and some good views of the seedeaters, but John did not get any pictures. They had lunch at the Rio Grande overlook in San Ignacio and spent some time at a county park, then headed back to Harlingen.

I went to Santa Ana. Many of the other participants were getting life birds left and right. That was fun. I did get great looks at Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs feeding next to each other. Least Grebes are always special. I even saw a Beardless Tyrannulet briefly. We watched for the Hook-Billed Kite from the towers. No luck. I would not have wanted to see that bird anyway. If I had, I would have HAD to find it for John.

Somehow, getting off the bus the day before, I left my binoculars behind! I didn't realize it until we got to our car and the bus was gone. Dark panic! The bus company closed before the festival people got a message to them. I checked with the information center this morning and they had not heard from the bus company. John let me take his 8's. He would use only his 18 power image-stabilized ones. Nice of him. After I got back from my tour at noon, I asked again. No news. The festival had lots of booths, several were optics companies, so I spent some time looking at replacements. About 2 they called me and said the bus company had finally called them back and had my binoculars! Dawn! A very nice festival volunteer was downtown and picked them up. I got them about 2:30, walked across to the park, lay down on the grass and rested for a half hour.

Then it was time for Bill Clark's lecture about Neotropical Hawks. After that was over, John had returned. There was a cool demonstration of birds of prey flying around the vendors' hall, some delicious snacks and a glass of wine. You should come to the festival!

We went to La Playa to eat. Yummy! Back to our room by 7 PM. John decide we would stay one more night instead of leaving right after our tours tomorrow. I think that means he will not go to Miami before he flies to Philadelphia.

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