Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Groovy-billed Anis

The Groovy-billed Anis Back row from left: Jeff Gordon, Manny Madsen, BOTB, Ben Lizdas.
Front row from left: Marci M. Fuller, Nicholas Fuller, Terry Fuller, Liz deLuna Gordon.

Way back on April 30 when Blogger decided to "move my cheese," or rather it decided not to let me post my cheese in the way in which I had become accustomed, I was in the middle of a series of posts about the Big Sit team I was on for The Great Texas Birding Classic. The team was co-sponsored by the generous folks at Eagle Optics and Bird Watcher's Digest.

It was The Groovy-billed Anis and we came in second place in the GTBC Big Sit category. We did however win the prizes for having the most fun and the most-ossumest team shirts.

Each team shirt was a unique creation involving tie-dying, spray paint, and a stencil (thanks Claire!) of a groove-billed ani (a bird we did NOT see on the Big Sit day, by the way).

Here's a gallery of the Groovies.

Liz of the Cosmos, our spiritual leader.


Marci, our toasty hostess with the mostest.



Marci's hubby Terry our most intensely observant birder.

Nicholas who may create the first Wii birding game.


Marci's dad Manny lent the team a degree of class.



Ben Lizdas, birding maven from Eagle Optics.

Jeff Gordon spotter of most birds AND winner at Talladega Motor Speedway the following afternoon.


Bill of the Birds (who created this year's team shirts) Next stop: Project Runway!

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Texas Big Sit Update #3

Great-tailed grackle.

When the rains come, they run and hide their heads.


The end of our Big Sit on South Padre Island was hastened by the rains which arrived late in the afternoon and brought a dark, wet, windy curtain down on an otherwise fabulous day.

We finished with 127 species. It looks like we did not win the Big Sit category for the Great Texas Birding Classic, but we certainly are the champions in the category of Most Fun Had Inside a 17-foot Diameter Circle.

Some highlights-n-tidbits:
  • This was my highest Big Sit total ever.
  • We set a new Big Sit record (127) for the location of our Sit, the South Padre Island convention center, beating the record of 124 set by another team last year.
  • I believe we saw and heard at least 300 dickcissels.
  • Ben Lizdas of Eagle Optics, the team's co-sponsor, got a life bird: magnificent frigatebird.
  • The tie-dyed shirts I made for the team with anis stencilled on them were a hit (team photo coming soon).
  • We ate like pigs, slept barely a wink, and laughed in the face of the elements.
  • Oh and we saw some totally ossum birds (more pix of them coming, too).

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Texas Big Sit Update #2

Yes we are still here, birding our badonks off, trying to avoid the mid-day sun, and listening to rumors of a three o'clock front which might drop some birds in our proverbial laps. It's been an outstanding morning (and for those of us who have been up since the midnight start it seems like late afternoon now).

We are at 103 species. Last one added: a flock of about 30 cedar waxwings. I've tried to take a few bird shots today. Hard to do when the birding is fast and furious. Several times this morning we've had four or five species in one tree. And more than once we've had five or six individuals of a single species in a single spot.

Black-bellied whistling duck.


Pyrrhuloxia male: a good bird for South Padre.

Adult blackpoll warbler. His yellow slippers are showing well.

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Texas Big Sit Update #1

Just after 2 am and Jeff, Liz, and I have 20 species, mostly by ear. Just added: black-bellied whistling duck and upland sandpiper. Hundreds of dickcissels going over tonight. More soon!

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Texas Sits Are Bigger

Participants in the 2007 Big Sit at Indigo Hill.

This weekend I'll be participating in The Big Sit category of The Great Texas Birding Classic on a team composed of some birding pals from hither and yon. Bird Watcher's Digest and Eagle Optics are the sponsors of our team, which is named The Groovy-Billed Anis.

We'll be sitting near the convention center on the northern end of South Padre Island. It's a great spot with brackish marsh nearby and the Gulf of Mexico too, plus a line of trees surrounded by sand, making them into a veritable oasis for migrants coming off the gulf. Last year the winning Big Sit category team had 124 species from this very spot. We're hoping to beat that this year, if the birding gods be with us.

I've done one other Big Sit in Texas (where everything is bigger) also during the GTBC way back in 2003. Our team, The Couchless Kingbirds, had 92 species and finished in the middle of the category pack. Team members for that year were Jeff Gordon, Liz DeLuna, Jim McCormac, and yours truly. We chose the dike wall outside of Bentsen State Park as our circle location—something that baffled the Border Patrol officers who drove past during the night.

It will be fun to have nothing else to do for an entire day except watch birds. I'll try to offer some updates here at BOTB if I can get Internet access. We'll start Saturday night, April 26, at midnight and we'll end sometime late on Sunday night. The competition ends at midnight.

The really cool thing about the Great Texas Birding Classic is that each team that wins a category, gets prize money to donate to a conservation cause of their choice. That concept, and the fact that we're sitting—not racing all over in an SUV trying to find birds—makes The Big Sit category of the GTBC a fairly green option among all the competitive birding events that are held each year.

Comprising the Groovy-billed Anis, you will find the following people: Jeff Gordon, Liz Gordon, Ben Lizdas (Eagle Optics), Marci and Terry Fuller, and moi (Bird Watcher's Digest).

I'm hoping the skies are full of warblers, orioles, tanagers, and painted buntings! Wish us luck!

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