Catching up…

Hi everyone!

Since my return from Texas, I’ve been playing catch up around here. There’s still lots to do for the final weeks of Mom’s Big Year, but the day-to-day mommy/family/work duties have been my priority these past two weeks.

What’s been on the menu?…Parent-teacher conferences, end of the season soccer parties and games, laundry, homework projects, wisdom tooth removal for our teen, last day bird banding at the lab for the season, updating grades for my students, prepping for Thanksgiving, basketball tournaments, and planning the next big MBY trip.  Oh and a quick Snow Bunting chase.. bringing me to #498 for Mom’s Big Year!

Just before the calculus parent-teacher conference.. and yes we came OUT of the conference with smiles too! 🙂 
Nancy with fellow soccer mom, and dear friend, Susan, and her adorable Sandy
Basketball tourney today!
Soccer dinner last weekend


Snow Bunting success!, North Point State Park, 11/20/2016, Photo courtesy of Anthony VanSchoor
Heading out to get the family pics taken last Sat
Holiday groceries
Pre-turkey workout, while the turkey was in the oven!
All done!


I still need to blog about the second half of my Texas trip.. But I could not let another day go by on this Thanksgiving weekend without posting how grateful I am.

Those of you who know me, know that I make a practice of gratitude as part of my daily living. But this year I am particularly grateful for so many things and for every one of you as a part of my Mom’s Big Year journey.

The “village” of support has been overwhelming and moves me to tears when I pause for a moment and soak it all in. I am thankful for each of you in my “village” and the role you have played to make this journey such a successful one. And it’s not over yet!

But I am particularly thankful for my husband. As I’ve said before, this Big Year has TRULY been a love story. Paul has given me a gift that no one else on this planet could give me… and for that, I am forever grateful.

Here’s Paul, 2 am on Monday night after we woke up to the classic beeping of the dying smoke detector. He went outside to the shed to get a ladder to climb up to the ceiling in our bedroom to change the battery.  Not a word of complaining out of him.

Not one.

I am thankful. ❤


Last night the clean laundry was piled high on my bed. Paul was away visiting his parents and I was SOOO beat from all the holiday prep.  I crawled under the covers and fell fast asleep UNDER the pile of laundry!  Too funny!

And the pile was still there this morning.

Could someone please send the ‘laundry fairy’.:-)



Finer than frog hair!

Wednesday, 11/2/2016

Well, it’s been an AMAZING few days in the Rio Grande Valley and I still have a few more days of hard-core birding left!

I am beyond thrilled with the birds I’ve ticked here so far. I have my “Texas A-team” with me and the plan is to leave No. Bird. Unseen.  And with this crew, we’re actually gonna make that happen!

Mom’s Big Year – Team Texas:  Gabriel, David and Martin… Day 1 – Salineno
Seedeater hunting- Nancy, Martin, David and Gabriel

Meet Team Texas:

  • Gabriel Lugo– fellow Wildside Nature Tours guide, came ALL the way from Puerto Rico, just to lend a hand. NO bird slips by Gabriel.. that’s for SURE. Gabriel chauffeured the team the entire week for hours on end..from Amazon Kingfisher to Aplomado Falcon to Northern Jacana and back, several times!
  • David Stekoll–  Uncle David has joined me once again to ‘tear up’ Texas for Mom’s Big Year. I’m SO super thankful to have another serious birder in the family!  He’s the BEST!  And fortunately, he’s still talking to this Yankee after driving across Texas for Mom’s Big Year(Austin to Big Bend and back) with me for 7 days in May. Lol!  We got 86 birds on that trip… It was EPIC!
  • Martin Hagne– reigns from the Texas Hill Country and has been an indispensable part of several Mom’s Big Year adventures.  He knows the ‘ins and outs’ of Texas birding and birds – especially the entire Rio Grande Valley- like the palm of his hand! Martin joined the Mom’s Big Year – Arizona edition in August and has so kindly spent hours helping to plan the Mom’s Big Year itinerary.
Nancy, Martin & Gabriel (taking the pic) setting the game plan for Wednesday

And very special thanks to Greg Miller this week -and beyond- for his constant support, guidance and for serving as a major resource to me throughout the entire year.  I certainly could not have done it all without him. Mom’s Big Year was actually his idea! A shout out to Raymond VanBuskirk for his updates on some local targets this week and to Rich Kostecke for re-finding the Amazon Kingfisher on Tuesday while we were there!

Post Northern Jacana SMILES!

Our first day here we drove the 3.5 hours to Laredo to test our luck. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a shot at the Amazon Kingfisher!  And…. WE GOT IT!

Martin, David, Rich & Nancy a minute after seeing the Amazon Kingfisher- MEGACHECK!  Thank you, Rich!

This is only the 3rd time EVER that this bird has been seen in the US… so it’s considered a MEGA-rarity in ‘birding speak’.

The star of the week-  Amazon Kingfisher.  Photo courtesy of Mary Gustafson

As if things couldn’t get any better, in just two days, I’ve added several new birds to my year list, including Sprague’s Pipit and Northern Jacana.

Birding Estero Llana Grande (my FAVE spot in the Valley) for Vesper Sparrow and Groove-billed Ani- target birds

After lunch today, I was walking out of ‘Fat Daddy’s’ roadside restaurant near Estero Llana Grande and a frail-looking old-timer in a cowboy hat said a polite and chipper “Hello! How are you?!” as I exited. Basking in the successes of the day so far I responded, “FANTASTIC, how are you?!”

He enthusiastically replied, as only a Texan could,

“I’m finer than frog hair!”


Well, the way this week has been going so far…That makes TWO of us!