For the first time ever, I attended my high school reunion this year--30 years! That wasn't the only first: it was also the first time I'd gone to Texas during the hot months since about ten years ago. I usually go in February or March. Further, it was the first time I'd seen many of these people since graduation day back in May of 1983.
This year, though, I had the time and the opportunity to do some warm-season birding in the Rio Grande Valley, AND see some old friends -- WIN-WIN! Plus, AB had never been to the Valley (only to San Antonio), so this was a chance to show her where I grew up, went to school, lived, etc. -- my formative years. She was a great sport, never once complaining about the hundred-degree heat, the super-high humidity, or the non-stop birding and reunion-ing.
So on to the memories and the birds!
Here I am with drama peeps Laura and Lisa Beth (from right), and that's band pal Hoss there in the background on the left:
Also in attendance were old band buddies Freddy:
Dinner, dancing, and bad karaoke ensued and, thanks to Chris' stuffing the ballot box, I placed in the karaoke contest despite my not having actually performed! Woo-hoo! The MC, former drill team standout Elena, came over to organizer Melissa (who happened to be standing near me) and was totally confused by the fact that I had taken second place! "Did she even sing????" Melissa looked at me, and I was busted -- Elena said there was no way I was getting the prize money, which I of course deferred to the actual second-place winner. However, she agreed to announce the fact that I'd gotten enough votes for second, which made the whole thing hilarious -- especially to a couple of semi-drunk old college roommies! I am the champion, my friend!
So in between a couple of reunion night activities and a memorial walk for classmates who'd passed away, we managed to get in quite a bit of birding. OHMIGOD it was hot! We arrived Thursday afternoon and began birding Friday morning at the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, a place I'd only been once before with sister Mary a few years ago. We got lucky: as we searched for birds, a Wood Stork flew over!
Yes, that blur is the Wood Stork -- but check out the tack-sharp focus on the tree branch there. Yeah, that.
I also managed to ID a Northern Beardless-Tyranulet, horribly backlit, by his sweet little call:
Then, while we looked out over this little marshy (or it would be if they'd had any rain lately) area, we saw a Groove-billed Ani!
Also had the usual South Texas specialties like this Plain Chachalaca with youngling:
So the lifer count had stood at 394 after my Big Bend trip; now, after a couple hours at SANWR, the total had risen to 397. Exciting! Stay tuned for more hot-weather birding!