Tuesday, July 02, 2013

High school reunion birding! Part 1

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:
 LB, Laura, and I logged many an hour doing children's theatre, UIL speech competitions, and general mayhem-causing in our classes together. I hadn't seen either of them since my days back at Taylor Trade Publishing in Dallas, circa 2000, and we had a great time catching up.

Here I am with the HHS Cardinal and college roommate Chris, who somehow managed to look BETTER than she did back when were young and strong! How DOES she do it? We had met senior year, and most of our memories were from our time at Texas A&I University in Kingsville; whoo-ee, did we do some drinkin' back then! We repeated some of that said drinkin' this weekend!

Also in attendance were old band buddies Freddy:

and Roger:
 both of whom were super-cool drummers! (I was a nerd and played clarinet.)

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:
I upped the contrast and highlighting on this to a ridiculous degree so you could see the bird; it was like a FAVOR to you, wasn't it?

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!
He was here! I had enough time to focus on him with my bins, ID him by his enormous schnozz, and then watch him fly away while I grabbed at my camera. Sigh. But I would get more chances at the photo; just wait and see!

Also had the usual South Texas specialties like this Plain Chachalaca with youngling:
That baby was the cutest little thing, hiding under Mama's (or Daddy's?) protective tail all the time. We would see several baby PLCHs, as well as other young birds. Is there anything cuter than baby birds?

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!

1 comment:

Rabbits' Guy said...

Bold. Totally Bold to go to the reunion.

Nice birds.