Super excited to return to the Rio Grande Valley today! A favorite hotspot for Mom’s Big Year, the Valley NEVER disappoints! I’m absolutely thrilled to return to Harlingen for the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival. https://www.rgvbf.org. If you haven’t experienced this incredible event, go ahead and put it on your calendar for next year!
I’ll be leading trips Thursday and Friday and will present “Mom’s Big Year” Saturday at 2pm, followed by a Big Year panel at 3:30pm. (If you’re in town, talks are FREE with your Kiskadee Pass.)
Looking forward to seeing many of you there and throughout the festival!
There’s SO much to share from these last few weeks, I don’t even know where to begin. It’s been a whirlwind of travel, final exams, family, friends and holidays. BIG fun!
After an amazing trip to the Rio Grande Valley in November, I stepped up the birding again in mid-December to finish the year strong. With the immeasurable help and support of family, colleagues, and friends at this crazy time of year, I felt so fortunate to squeeze in trips to Minnesota, Southern Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina and an unplanned trip to my childhood home in New Jersey… all before the ball dropped. I closed out 2016 with some very exciting hits, some tough misses, and a rather exciting finish to Mom’s Big Year!
Now, I’m getting back to reality.. unpacking my suitcase and starting the laundry. I just submitted semester grades this morning.. so, this month I’ll have more time to blog and recap on what I would consider to be the best year of my life so far! It was certainly a huge year of birds.. but as you all know, for me, it was much more than birds… It was a year chock-FULL of learning, growth, love, healing, travel, adventure, new friends, old friends and family.
I am grateful. I simply couldn’t ask for more.
Speaking of which…Here’s one of my favorite songs, by Sara Evans, I Could Not Ask for More. I’ve posted it before and I’m posting again as I love it so much. I sing it to my kids and hubby all the time. It really captures how I’m feeling right now about them, and you, and my entire support network for Mom’s Big Year.
“These are the moments
I know heaven must exist
And these are the moments
I know all I need is this
I’ve found all I’ve waited for, yeah
And I could not ask for more
I could not ask for more than this time together
I could not ask for more than this time with you
And every prayer has been answered
Every dream I’ve had’s come true
Yeah, right here in this moment
Is right where I’m meant to be
Here with you here with me”
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!
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.
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!
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!
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’.
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.
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!
Just arrived in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas today after a fantastic and VERY fruitful trip to San Diego.
I spent three full days birding, including a pelagic trip out of Mission Bay. Southern California exceeded my expectations for sure! I ticked 46 new species and brought my total to 475 for Mom’s Big Year!
Very special thanks to Steve Ritt for providing me an unbelievable amount of help and expertise to make this such an ‘over-the-top’ successful trip! And thanks to Paul Lehman for meeting up and for providing additional useful info regarding my target birds.