Two days ago, I left the Georgia coast, the sand gnats, and a group of wonderful people behind on one of the most beautiful islands in the country. Spending a month on a pristine barrier island was one of the best months I can remember- rivaling summers spent working as a CIT in the Colorado Rockies. I'll miss Little St. Simons, but am overflowing with gratitude at the opportunity to serve there, and make some wonderful friends, explore the island, and get lots of work done on "behind-the-scenes" parts of The Birding Project.
Looking ahead, I drove into the blinding sun-lit dusk, heading west for Texas. At a gas stop, I checked Facebook and read a Great White Pelican was reported in Florida! With no prior records of this species in the Western Hemisphere, I remembered this species is likely kept at zoos and gardens, so I decided to pass on heading south. I had 6 days before my next commitment and several key birds to find along the thousand-mile journey. I drove half way through the night, stopping only to sleep in the back of my car at a Wal-Mart somewhere between Alabama and New Orleans.
The following morning I rose with the dawn, and was in Houston by noon. I had to stop at a camera store and have my equipment appraised, so I can have an accurate price in mind when I have to sell it. Big Years don't pay for themselves, and although I hate thinking of selling my lens and professional camera body, something's gotta give to stay on the road and make awesome trips happen this year. I'm grateful for the support I've received so far, which has helped me update the food in my cooler to include more than Top Ramen. Thanks to my "food angels" out there!
I spent the afternoon hanging out with my Houston family, taking a bike ride that netted me a new (non-countable) bird for the year- Red-vented Bulbul. It's introduced from India, probably escaped cage birds established the loose feral population around The Heights neighborhood in Houston. Cool to see, nonetheless!
The following morning I hit the road early, and drove down to south Texas, to Weslaco to search for Mexican vagrants- birds that have strayed across the border into Texas. The Blue Bunting had been reported at Frontera Audubon lately, and I was hoping it would stick around long enough for me to get down and see it. Check back tomorrow to find out if my chase was successful! Or, follow my Instagram or Twitter accounts for updates!