At this point, I needed two more birds to hit 400 and we hadn't yet gone to South Padre Island. The SPI Birding and Nature Center never fails to disappoint; I knew we'd see some great birds.
That's when we started hearing a distinctive sound and this guy appeared:
We moved on, and we saw a flash of color -- LEAST BITTERN! I would not get good photos of this bird on this day or the next, but we definitely saw him! It's like every time he appeared, we saw him clearly, both with and without bins, but I never got my camera up in time. He was nothing like the LEBI in that Matthew Daw video (in which the LEBI is upstaged by a Rufous-necked Wood Rail, the photobombing of the century), who posed cooperatively down in New Mexico.
Here is the best I got when we came back the next morning:
What, you can't see him? Okay -- I understand. Here he is:
See him there? He's moving left to right. In the next shot, he's almost vanished into that black gap in the cattails:
That's his little bum there, circled. Difficult to photograph, but oh-so-easy to ID with those crazy distinctive colors.
NUMBER 400! I was so giddy that AB was just laughing at me; I was SO glad she was there for this accomplishment. On all of my previous big birding trips AB has stayed behind (to preserve her sanity, quite honestly), so she's missed a lot of the big moments. This time, she was right beside me -- and it was perfect.
She was such a trooper, dealing with the heat and the bugs and the almost-constant bird fixation, but at times she had a lot of fun. She fell in love with the Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, and who can blame her?
One of the neatest things was seeing all the babies. Here's a Mottled Duck and three of her ducklings:
Not only would I get 400 at SPI, but I'd start on my way to (gulp!) 500 with this Least Tern:
What would Sunday and Monday bring? Stay tuned for the final part of our Reunion Birding trip story!