Wide open spaces…

Sorry everyone.. looks like my last post may not have gone through with the link.. Let’s try that again! ūüôā

This song by the Dixie Chicks keeps coming to mind as I think about the great time Uncle David and I had as we headed deep into West Texas.  Next stop is Big Bend!

But now¬†it’s time for this momma¬†to get her kiddos¬†ready for scout camps and a youth group trip starting this week! ¬†Packing packing packing is the word of the day.

More posts on my final days in Texas coming soon!

But don’t worry, Texas..

I’ll be back! ūüėČ

Wide Open Spaces

Who doesn’t know what I’m talking about
Who’s never left home, who’s never struck out
To find a dream and a life of their own
A place in the clouds, a foundation of stone

Many precede and many will follow
A young girl’s dreams no longer hollow
It takes the shape of a place out west
But what it holds for her, she hasn’t yet guessed

She needs wide open spaces
Room to make her big mistakes
She needs new faces
She knows the high stakes

She traveled this road as a child
Wide eyed and grinning, she never tired
But now she won’t be coming back with the rest
If these are life’s lessons, she’ll take this test

She needs wide open spaces
Room to make her big mistakes
She needs new faces
She knows the high stakes

She knows the high stakes

As her folks drive away, her dad yells, “Check the oil!”
Mom stares out the window and says, “I’m leaving my girl”
She said, “It didn’t seem like that long ago”
When she stood there and let her own folks know

She needed wide open spaces
Room to make her big mistakes
She needs new faces
She knows the high stakes

She knows the high stakes
She knows the highest stakes
She knows the highest stakes
She knows the highest stakes

Alpine & the Davis Mountains ~ Texas Day 5

Day 5 provided a fantastic opportunity to¬†soak in breathtaking views high up in the¬†Davis Mountains of West Texas and add some more birds to the list. As always, the pictures don’t do this place justice. You’ve just gotta GO!

We connected with our new friend, Bill Sain, in Alpine the night before, ran over to ‘The Post’ in Marathon for Elf Owl and then headed to the Davis Mountains first thing on Thursday. (A shout out to Martin Hagne for putting us in touch with him!) Special thanks to Bill as he¬†SO very kindly¬†set aside Wednesday night and all day Thursday for us. ¬†We share LOTS of mutual friends in the birding world, but hadn’t had the opportunity to¬†bird together until now. ¬† Bill’s such a sweet and fascinating¬†person. I’m certain it’s not our last birding adventure together! ūüôā

Bill and David, birding in the Davis Mountains
Always FUN to run into fellow guides!  Simon and Emilie (left) with their tour from NC.
My son might be disappointed fishing in this river ūüėõ , Madera Canyon
Madera Canyon Trail
Wild Turkey
McDonald Observatory
Impromptu tour of the inside of the Hobby-Eberly telescope from one of its mirror specialists
The Hobby-Eberly Telescope

We missed a couple targets, but just enjoying our time high up in the picturesque Davis Mountains MORE than made up for that!

We even got an impromptu tour of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope from a telescope mirror specialist at the McDonald Observatory.¬†(You KNOW that tour was a real treat for all of us, especially this science teacher!) The telescope is¬†currently being updated to perform world-wide collaborative research on……….

****cue background Twilight Zone music now***

Dark Energy.

Yes, if you’re in the hard sciences.. It’s a thing.¬†VERY cool!

Here are the new year birds we had in the Davis Mountains. # 350 is within reach! :

325 Say’s Phoebe – Sayornis saya
326 Cactus Wren – Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus
327 Curve-billed Thrasher – Toxostoma curvirostre
328 Cassin’s Kingbird – Tyrannus vociferans
329 Acorn Woodpecker – Melanerpes formicivorus
330 Hepatic Tanager – Piranga flava
331 Black-headed Grosbeak – Pheucticus melanocephalus
332 Western Wood-Pewee – Contopus sordidulus
333 Plumbeous Vireo – Vireo plumbeus
334 Western Bluebird – Sialia mexicana
335 Phainopepla – Phainopepla nitens


The Saddle Club in Alpine, TX

We ended the day with a lovely dinner of tapas at The Saddle Club in Alpine¬†with Bill’s wife, Marian and mother, Gwen. You can probably tell from the picture above, this Yankee just KNEW¬†she was¬†NOT¬†in Maryland anymore! ūüôā ¬†Fun!

As I reflect on our day with Bill, this quote keeps coming to mind.

Yes’m, old friends is always best, ‘less you can catch a new one that’s fit to make an old one out of. ¬†~Sarah Orne JewettIMG_7093

Marian, Bill, Gwen and Nancy


Break in the birding

I’ll get back to the report on the Texas trip soon! But this weekend was reserved for some overdue family fun¬†time. ¬†While Mom’s Big Year includes a ton of birding (of course), it also includes a ton of “mommying”. ¬†And this weekend it was all about the mommy¬†stuff.¬† Continue reading

Texas Day 3 ~ Love Creek Preserve

Those of you who know me, know that BIRDS and FRIENDS¬†are my two favorite things. ūüôā So, if you put good birds and good company¬†together in¬†a great¬†PLACE, then, in my book…. it’s *magic*! Continue reading

Texas ~ Day 2!

A VERY special and sincere note of thanks to our friends, Jane Tillman and Mark Lyons, for meeting up with us early Monday before we headed west.

Together we¬†hit Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park in Austin to try for Chuck-wills-widow and got ’em! After birding¬†the park for a few hours,¬†we¬†had success adding the following new species for the year.

289 Northern Bobwhite – Colinus virginianus Commons Ford Pk US-TX 23 May 2016
288 Chuck-will’s-widow – Antrostomus carolinensis Commons Ford Pk US-TX 23 May 2016
287 Black-chinned Hummingbird – Archilochus alexandri Commons Ford Pk US-TX 23 May 2016
286 Ladder-backed Woodpecker – Picoides scalaris Commons Ford Pk US-TX 23 May 2016
286 Western Scrub-Jay – Aphelocoma californica Commons Ford Pk US-TX 23 May 2016
285 Black-crested Titmouse – Baeolophus atricristatus Commons Ford Pk US-TX 23 May 2016
284 Rufous-crowned Sparrow – Aimophila ruficeps Commons Ford Pk US-TX 23 May 2016
283 Blue Grosbeak – Passerina caerulea Commons Ford Pk US-TX 23 May 2016

And thanks to Jane for her enthusiasm and sharp strategizing for Mom’s Big Year and to Mark for all his support! ¬†Jane’s recommendations were ‘spot-on’ and produced¬†many more birds throughout the adventure! ¬†Thank you, Jane!

Birding Commons Ford
Mark, Jane and David
Jane & Nancy
Having fun strategizing our trip west!
Commons Ford Ranch Metro Park

We spent the afternoon at Pedernales Fall State Park. ¬†A lifer Golden-cheeked Warbler was a REAL treat for me! ¬†And we had a chance to watch a male Painted Bunting take a bath.. That’s a bird I was tickled to see for the first time earlier this year after¬†drooling over it in a book when I was 5 years old. I’ve been dreaming about seeing it ever since then! New year birds at Pedernales included the following–although we did hear Bewick’s Wren loud and clear in the morning at Commons Ford too.

Stay tuned for a review of Day 3 tomorrow..

MORE birds AND friends!……My two favorite things! ūüôā ‚̧

292 Golden-cheeked Warbler – Setophaga chrysoparia Pedernales Falls State Park (HOTE 050) US-TX 23 May 2016
291 Wilson’s Warbler – Cardellina pusilla Pedernales Falls State Park (HOTE 050) US-TX 23 May 2016
290 Bewick’s Wren – Thryomanes bewickii Pedernales Falls State Park (HOTE 050) US-TX 23 May 2016

A million miles…

Well, I can’t believe it was just over a¬†week ago that I stood face-to-face with a Colima Warbler in Big Bend. ¬†With the long list of¬†end-of-the-year kid activities (picnics, concerts, play-off games etc.) we’ve been running (but enjoying!) this week and it honestly feels like my big Texas adventure was a million miles ago. ¬†I’m finally getting a break in the action to start sharing it with you. ¬†I’ll recap¬†the highlights¬†over the course of the next week.

Pacific slope flycatcher selfie! copy
Nancy & David after seeing a Pacific-slope Flycatcher in the Rio Grande Valley, Nov 2015

Uncle David from Austin was my fabulous travel companion and we wasted no time in getting our big adventure started! ¬†We went straight from the Austin airport to Hornsby Bend and some local ponds and picked up several species before packing the car to head west on Monday. It was fun to¬†run into The Nature Conservancy’s Rich Kostecke and Vee Na at Hornsby Bend and add some new birds along the way. Other¬†highlights included photographing a Least Grebe mom and chicks and¬†catching¬†a barn owl at dusk. ūüôā

Here’s the list of new species¬†we added to MBY (Mom’s Big Year) on day 1:

282 Barn Owl – Tyto alba Austin–Mueller Prairie Restor.& ponds¬† US-TX 22 May 2016
281 Monk Parakeet – Myiopsitta monachus US-TX-Austin-6801 Burnet Rd – 30.3440x-97.7381 US-TX 22 May 2016
280 Least Grebe – Tachybaptus dominicus Austin–The Triangle Pond US-TX 22 May 2016
279 Lesser Goldfinch – Spinus psaltria Austin–The Triangle Pond US-TX 22 May 2016
278 Dickcissel – Spiza americana Platt Lane (Travis Co.) US-TX 22 May 2016
277 White-rumped Sandpiper – Calidris fuscicollis Hornsby Bend (HOTE 037) US-TX 22 May 2016
276 Semipalmated Sandpiper – Calidris pusilla Hornsby Bend (HOTE 037) US-TX 22 May 2016
275 Wilson’s Phalarope – Phalaropus tricolor Hornsby Bend (HOTE 037) US-TX 22 May 2016
274 Black Tern – Chlidonias niger Hornsby Bend (HOTE 037) US-TX 22 May 2016
273 Western Kingbird – Tyrannus verticalis Hornsby Bend (HOTE 037) US-TX 22 May 2016
272 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher – Tyrannus forficatus Hornsby Bend (HOTE 037) US-TX 22 May 2016
271 Great-tailed Grackle – Quiscalus mexicanus Austin–Bergstrom Intl. Airport (AUS) US-TX 22 May 2016

Heading west!

After a fantastic day yesterday birding the Nature Conservancy’s Love Creek Preserve with our friend, Martin, we’re heading west today!  SO thankful to Martin for spending the day with us and to the Nature Conservancy for allowing us access to their unbelievably beautiful preserve!  Pictures will follow. Bird # 300 was a Black-capped Vireo! Wooohoooo! 

We’ll be in Junction this morning and will bird our way west to Alpine to try for Elf Owl tonight.  Birding the Davis Mountains tomorrow. 

Internet is spotty.. But I will post again ASAP! 

I’m at 304 now… 400 here I come!!! 

Text me…

Said my final goodbyes to the kids last night before bed.. Texas here I come! 

I gave my youngest one final kiss on the forehead, turned out the light, and started walking out of his room. With his eyes half-closed as he began to enter dreamland he quietly uttered, 

“Text me when you get to 300,  okay mom?”

I can tell he REALLY gets it. ūüôā and boy do I feel loved!