Troopers and Tarantulas ~ Texas Day 4


Texas ~ Day 4 in two words.. Troopers and tarantulas (and lots of great birds!)

Yup. We’re in the wild, wild west and Mom’s Big Year went “rogue” on Day 4.

You’re not going to believe THIS one.

We got pulled over by a Texas state trooper for going THREE miles over the speed limit.  (She really must have been bored or something.)


Fidgeting nervously as the trooper approached the car, I donned my bins and figured the ‘birdnerd-look’ might make us look pretty compliant. 🙂

“What are you doing in the area?”  the trooper inquired.

“Bird watching” -Uncle David and I both answered.

As we said it, it almost sounded surreal to me like we were making it up.. but I knew that our bird watching garb and gear clearly confirmed our claim.

The trooper’s face lit up. “Oh! I know that movie where those guys try to see ALLL the birds in a year!” she exclaimed, seeming proud to demonstrate her bit of knowledge on the subject.

I chimed in with ” You mean The Big Year!”  The_Big_Year_Poster

“That’s IT!! I LOVED that movie!”she said with an enthusiastic, friendly smile.

“Well, she’s doing a Big Year right now,” Uncle David said as he pointed to me.  I quickly produced a Mom’s Big Year business card, smiled politely, and invited her to follow the blog. 😉 Really.

The trooper leaned her head into the driver-side window like she was a friend getting the scoop on the neighborhood gossip… “So, how’s the Big Year going?”

I gazed at the road ahead without expression and answered somberly,

“It was going GREAT……….well…….until now…”

David and I drove away without a ticket.


We forged west and laughed and laughed and laughed as we replayed the encounter and labeled the day’s adventure,  “Mommy and Clyde.” 🙂


By Randy Helton

Earlier that same day we birded the daylights out of Junction, TX and had our most species for the trip in one day so far.  Local birder, Rhandy Helton met up with us and is on a first name basis with every. single. bird. in the area. 🙂  (Thank you to Jane Tillman for connecting us with Rhandy! And thank you to Rhandy for spending over half the day with us and helping us get a boatload of birds in the Junction area!)  As you can imagine, that didn’t hurt Mom’s Big Year numbers one bit!   Before we left our hotel parking lot with Rhandy, the kind hostess at the hotel ran outside, offering us a bird guide to Junction.

We smiled, graciously accepted and giggling silently as we knew that Rhandy was the author of the guide. We were in good hands with him for sure.

Fort Lancaster Overlook / Sheffield Rest Area
Rhandy Helton – our wonderful host!
Gray Vireo – Fort Lancaster Overlook / Sheffield Rest Area
South Llano River SP – Rhandy points out a Black-capped Vireo nest
South Llano River SP
Cave Swallow – South Llano River SP

Here’s our catch for the day:

Elf Owl – Micrathene whitneyi
Lesser Nighthawk – Chordeiles acutipennis
Common Poorwill – Phalaenoptilus nuttallii
Scaled Quail – Callipepla squamata
Gray Vireo – Vireo vicinior
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher – Polioptila melanura
Inca Dove – Columbina inca
Cave Swallow – Petrochelidon fulva
Green Kingfisher – Chloroceryle americana
Canyon Towhee – Melozone fusca
Varied Bunting – Passerina versicolor
Swainson’s Hawk – Buteo swainsoni
Yellow-headed Blackbird – Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus
Bell’s Vireo – Vireo bellii
Cassin’s Sparrow – Peucaea cassinii
Black-throated Sparrow – Amphispiza bilineata
Pyrrhuloxia – Cardinalis sinuatus
Bronzed Cowbird – Molothrus aeneus
Bullock’s Oriole – Icterus bullockii

By evening we met up with new friend in Alpine, Bill Sain, to look for nightjars and Elf owls. We spent a big day venturing with Bill on Day 5 and that’s worth it’s own post. Stay tuned!

Walking back to the car after success with the Elf Owl, I had my lifer tarantula!

Mom’s Big Year is ‘beyond birds’ !! 🙂 Lol!





4 thoughts on “Troopers and Tarantulas ~ Texas Day 4

  1. Whoa, that’s one Big mamma tarantula! I thought I was seeing way too many legs, but it was just it’s shadows of the legs. Good for you on the number of birds sighted so far!


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