Home. That word loomed over us like a dark thunderhead as we spent our last hours in Texas birding some areas near Marci and Terry Fullers' house in San Benito on Sunday morning. We were having too much fun to go home: getting up at ridiculously early hours every morning, racing around all day seeing exotic tropical birds, and then grabbing a few hours of sleep. Repeat. Can't ask for a better life.
The shrieks of Great Kiskadees outside the window woke me out of my slumber before my alarm clock did. I groggily got up, showered (picked a few ticks out of my skin at the same time), and then headed out the door to see some of those amazing Texan birds before I had to leave. A beaver swam right by the little dock on the resaca behind the house, much to our delight. It even slapped its tail on the surface of the water, something I've never seen before.
Number One suggested that we go on a brief pre-breakfast birding jaunt by van to some nearby areas to look for Red-crowned Parrots. We jumped at the idea. Sure enough, we easily found a little flock of noisy Red-crowned Parrots hanging out in someone's yard nearby. While everyone else gawked at the parrots, I yawned and told tales of large flocks in my backyard. Backyard - arrgh, a reminder of home.
We decided to explore a small dirt road that looped behind the resaca. Suddenly, the van sank into extremely soft, slimy mud. Up to this point, the dirt had been parched and even cracked, but for some reason this little part of the road was a morass.
After a few futile attempts to push the van out, we temporarily abandoned it and Marci came and picked us up. After eating a delicious banquet prepared by Marci, we birded the yard some more. A few migrants filtered through the treetops, including the only Red-eyed Vireo of the trip (better late than never!). Some small brown butterflies flitting close to my ground caught my attention - Carolina Satyr (Hermeuptychia sosybius). A lifer!
While I was stalking an uncooperative Long-billed Thrasher, this Couch's Kingbird landed on a telephone wire right overhead. Both Couch's and Tropical Kingbirds are resident in the immediate area, but this one was nice enough to call so I could actually identify it. Couch's and Tropical Kingbirds are essentially identical, best differentiated by call.
An Inca Dove flew in and landed on the same wire just a few feet from the kingbird. This tiny dove is quite common in the Lower Rio Grande Valley; one often hears their mournful calls.
I had one hour before I had to leave. What to do? I kept looking for birds, enjoying them in a bittersweet way. Who knows when I'll see Golden-fronted Woodpeckers, Great Kiskadees, or Black-crested Titmice again? I glanced at my phone - 11:50 a.m., ten minutes until I had to leave for the airport. I walked over and staked out one of the hummingbird feeders on the back porch. In the last five minutes, a beautiful Buff-bellied Hummingbird visited the feeder several times. A nice way to end the trip...
With that, I left Texas. As the sun was setting, my plane touched down on a runway at LAX. A few American Crows were hanging out along the runway - didn't see a single one of those in Texas.
A big thanks to Marci and Terry Fuller for letting us stay in their house Saturday night and everything they did for us Sunday morning! I also have to thank Number One and Leica Mom for being awesome mentors/drivers/temporary parents. It was an amazing trip - I saw 219 species in five days, and recorded twenty-eight lifers. Back to my Wrentits and California Gnatcatchers now. :-)