Changes and challenges:
In somewhat exciting news, we've decided to branch out a bit - we've always done informal guiding, but now we've actually listed regional guiding here on the blog. Regardless of skill level, we're more than happy to introduce folks to the birds (and butterflies) or general nature of the region; Marathon is our home turf, but as long as our schedules work out, we're quite happy to help out with Balmorhea, the Davis Mountains and whatever else suits you. Year listers, county listers, target birding or simply soaking up the region - we'd be happy to help.
It was also in 2012 that eBird reviewing for Reeves and Pecos Counties fell into play: Pecos hasn't even been touched yet, but the learning curve has gone from vertical to... still pretty steep. It's all in the name of progress, right? Speaking of progress, there's another Sul Ross State University grad in the family! After 9 years, 7 moves, 3 schools and 2 states, Heidi finished ~160 hours of a B.A.
This was also the first year that both of us were recruited to co-lead trips for the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival. For 2011 we were tied up with a booth, so 2012 was a bit more freeing, even if that free time was used to track down speaker/sponsor/leader people for the summer festival!
Last year saw 131 blog posts here, peaking in July with 20 posts. Can't imagine why... we only assembled the finest crew of Texas birders with Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman in attendance!
|From left to right: Cameron Carver, Kelly Bryan, Matthew York, Heidi Trudell, Kimberly Kaufman, Kenn Kaufman, and Steve Gross. Mark Flippo disappeared in the photo; ninjas do not show up in photographs. Photo by Patty Pasztor.|
January - Nutting's Flycatcher, a life bird for both of us!)
April - Swainson's and Hermit Wablers
August - Black-billed Cuckoo, Black-throated Green Warbler
October - Sabine's Gull - another double life bird, Varied Thrush, Surf Scoter and Red Phalarope
November - Williamson's Sapsucker* (usually in Jeff Davis Co, not Marathon!)
December - Red Crossbill - it most certainly has been Winter of the Crossbills, and not just for our region. They've been reported all over the southern states and throughout much of Texas. In December we also snuck off to Lubbock to see a double-life Northern Shrike!
Most cooperative non-passerine of the year goes to a pair of Zone-tailed Hawks that cooperated for the festival, tending to their large nestling (still in nest) in front of a group of ~15 or so folks!
|Zone-tailed Hawk (Buteo albonotatus), photo by Matt York.|
Palmer's Metalmark stole the show for the entire summer and well into fall. Common Mestras made an exceptional appearance nearly daily in our yard - not that they ever landed - and made a surge throughout the state. And Big Bend? Diversity was fantastic, and we only made it down there a few times! The festival list was also quite impressive.
|Arizona Sister (Adelpha eulalia), photo by Matt York.|
|Planet Arium Moth (Plagiomimicus olvello), photo by Matt York.|
Happy New Year and happy trails,
-Heidi & Matt