Monday, June 17, 2013

A funny thing happened...

15 June 2013

...on the afternoon I returned home from 3 months of fieldwork that took me away from our region.
This happened:

Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher (Myiodynastes luteiventris)

That afternoon, Heidi texted me about a likely Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher (SBFL) down at Carolyn Ohl-Johnson's Christmas Mountains Oasis in south Brewster County.

By the time Heidi returned home, we were both dead-tired for a variety of reasons.  However, there were several hours of daylight remaining.  We meant to get down there first thing tomorrow.  However, tomorrow is never promised, nor is the bird.

We hopped in the truck and, fatigue-enduring, drove the distance down to Carolyn's.

No more than 10 minutes on-site brought us this:

WOW. A beautiful SBFL, entirely active in foraging, fly-catching right in front of us on the trail.  Heidi spotted it first.  I have found it very beneficial to have a birder-spouse who is a foot shorter than I.

While this individual seems to be the 21st record in Texas, it is ONLY the 2nd trans-Pecos Regional record. It is certainly still a Texas Bird Records Committee (TBRC) review species. Rest assured, field notes were taken along with these photos.

We enjoyed beautifully entertaining views, off and on, during a 45 minutes observation of this individual.
We were fortunate that we did tear our carcasses off the couch in Marathon and headed down to south county.
Divine inspiration, perhaps.

Because the following day, this bird was not relocated. It is HIGHLY likely that it has moved on.

You just never know when it comes to birding the Big Bend area of far-West Texas. Thanks so much for Carolyn Ohl-Johnson and her years of dedication to create and maintain an excellent habitat in south Brewster County. Check out her 'blog at It is worth it to follow and subscribe to her posts.

Find your way down there, and I guarantee it is worth the price of a non-obligatory donation.
She and her oasis are icons of Texas and Big Bend birding.
What rarity will be next? It doesn't entirely matter, as even her expected resident birds are excellent and sought after.

Whew. Welcome home me, I guess. And thanks to Carolyn.

**photos taken mostly by Heidi Trudell. My only interference with them is some of the cropping for framing in a blog.


  1. umm. Maybe you might want to thank the folks that actually found and identified the bird at Carolyn'--David & Jan Hanson. Your post seems to ignore a key reason you were able to see the bird at all.

    1. Excellent point, Anon!

      It is our understanding that David and Jan Hansen were unable to find a Western Wood-Pewee and were sad, as they had hoped to take photos of it.

      Carolyn's incessant determination to make all things right in the world and FIND the bird FOR them to photograph led to her discovery of a flycatcher that she was unable to get good looks at. David and Jan were informed and they were able to ID the bird that she had found on their behalf while looking for the pewee.

      We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude for Carolyn's 17 years of back-breaking labor, ~year + of hauling water due to the drought and her amazing vision in providing and nourishing the very habitat in which this bird temporarily stopped.

      So, yes, all due credit to David and Jan for IDing the bird for Carolyn. Also, to Mark Lockwood for his excellent timing and hours of patience in relocating the bird.