Friday, November 22, 2013

Searching for a Nemesis Bird But Finding a Good One Anyway, Tuesday, November 12

Groove-billed Ani is rapidly becoming a nemesis bird, much like the Mountain Quail for Neil Hayward.  Previous to this recent visit to the LRGV, I had searched for close to 4 days for Groove-billed Anis reported on e-Bird and otherwise but without success.  I have a summary report about those efforts in draft to be published, hopefully soon.  I realize that it is harder to find them in the fall and easier in the heat of the summer until about the end of September and early October.  However, life got in the way big time in August of this year when I should have tried for Groove-billed Ani in the LRGV.  I was also elsewhere getting new birds for the year, particularly in Alaska and California, in September and early October.

I arrived at about 7:30 am at Santa Ana NWR hoping to find the seven Groove-billed Anis at the water feature, as recommended by Mary Gustafson, that were present yesterday morning until about 10:00 am when Neil Hayward texted me that he was looking at them.  They were not present at the water feature behind the visitor center early or later this morning, November 12.  Meanwhile, I joined the search for the Rose-throated Becard.  The becard was being seen around the visitor center, particularly, near the picnic table alcove behind the restrooms and in the trees along the parking lot.  I kept listening for the anis as I looked for the slow moving and secretive Rose-throated Becard.  At about 8:30 am, a lady saw the becard briefly along the west parking lot.  It was down below the canopy in trees that line the parking lot.  A group of about 10 birders looked diligently but could not find it.  Slowly, the group broke up and moved to different areas to continue the search.  I kept checking the water feature behind the visitor center and the thick bushes near the visitor center along the canal for anis.  My search for the anis and the becard covered the same areas near the visitor center.  Either bird could be anywhere.  I met John Hintermeister from Florida at the water feature behind the visitor center.  just then, John got a phone call from his birding buddy that he had the becard in the parking lot near where the woman had seen it about 30 minutes earlier.  We hustled over there.  By the time we arrived, the bird had moved and was temporarily lost in the leaves and branches, i.e. not visible to us.  However, John's birding buddy had re-found the bird, because he patiently stayed in the area where the bird was first seen and patiently watched the trees for movement.  Then, the becard was found again, and I got excellent looks at this young first winter male with the developing pink throat.  So did an enthralled group of birders.  It was hard to get photographs, because the bird stayed well hidden behind the leaves and branches of an ebony tree and barely moved or moved only occasionally.  The light was rather dim inside this tree.  I know that Michael Dupree got some good photos.  Recall that I met Michael searching for Fork-tailed flycatcher several days ago.  He showed them to me on his camera.  See my photos below.
Rose-throated Becard, first winter male, black cap, partially pink throat,
rusty feathers on wing coverts and in tail, gray back  
Rose-throated Becard, first winter male
Awesome bird!  This was a bird that I did not plan to see this year.  What a great find by Bob Behrstock from Arizona!  A great addition to my list and reasonable photographs given the difficulty of seeing this bird.  Special thanks to John Hintermeister's birding buddy who re-found the Rose-throated Becard this morning.

Now back to finding the Groove-billed Anis.   Several people in the group wanted to see anis.  One woman had seen them along the Willow Lakes Trail on Sunday, November 10, at a spot deemed to be the most reliable for them.  She offered to show us the spot at about 9:30 am.  We went there but did not find the anis.  I checked this spot and the water feature behind the visitor center at least 3-4 times throughout the day.  I never found the anis.  My last visit to the Willow Lakes Trail Spot was just before sunset.  Still no luck on the Groove-billed Ani.  A cold front moved in during the day, causing dropping temperatures and high wind.  The conditions early tomorrow might not be favorable, but I need to try.  I will try for Groove billed Ani again early tomorrow morning before moving on.         

Rose-throated Becard is a new bird for the year raising my total to 696 + 2.


No comments:

Post a Comment