|This Black-capped Chickadee peeks into my window to see where I am.
|Mother raccoon and baby at Viera Wetlands
|Otter basking at Viera Wetlands
Between about noon on Saturday, February 16, and Sunday, February 24, our group saw a total of 201 species, of which I personally saw 199, so in one week I saw more species than I'd seen in the previous 6 weeks of 2013, adding almost 100 species to my year list. Texas bird numbers are way down this year, based on my own personal experience and on what all the local birders were saying. Extended extreme drought conditions have taken a toll, sending some species elsewhere and almost certainly causing high levels of mortality in others.
Despite bad conditions, we had wonderful looks at some exceptionally difficult species. We started at 7 each morning and birded until almost dark each day. Each day was intense, but to offset the occasional frustration in not being able to spend as much time watching something fun, it's nice to put all the trip planning and driving in someone else's hands. I'm always a bit exhausted at day's end, but it's the good kind of exhaustion wherein I fall asleep with visions of Green Jays, Altamira Orioles, Whooping Cranes, and other amazing birds.
|Flammulated Owl's tummy feathers
|Crimson-collared Grosbeak (immature)