We are off on our great spring and summer adventure to travel from Texas to Alaska and back to our place in North Carolina!
We left a little early because a Slate-throated Redstart made an appearance in Arizona. It was first reported by NARBA on Thursday. We spent the rest of that day and a couple of hours on Friday packing our van and getting ready to leave. By 10 am we were on the road. By 10 am Sunday we were pulling into the parking lot at Hirabayashi Recreation Area on Mount Lemmon, northeast of Tucson; a total of 1160 miles from our starting point in just 48 hours. Unfortunately, the bird was a two-day wonder and had not been seen since late on Friday. Our trip was in vain.
All was not lost, however, as we got a good start on our trip list traveling through three states and three time zones. Our goal is to try to get 500 species as we travel on our trip. (We didn’t start the list until we were already out of the RGV so as not to make it too easy.)
The trip will last about four months by the time we return to NC. Two of those months will be in Alaska, one will be spent traveling to Alaska, and the last one will be the return trip. On the way up we plan to follow the migration north along the west coast. On the way back we will come down through western Canada and the center of the USA. You can see from those plans that we will be traveling over 10,000 miles and visiting a large number of the major ecoregions of the continent, so getting to 500 is certainly possible if we spend enough time birding as we go and don’t get bogged down by the number of miles to drive. (We drove over 60,000 miles during our Big Year, so 10,000 should be a piece of cake!)
Right now we are spending about 10 days in NM and AZ while we wait for the migration to heat up. There have been some interesting birds, including a Black-throated Blue Warbler who is a little lost in Cave Creek Canyon near Portal, AZ. We have seen 120 species so far, a nice mix of wintering regulars, residents, and some early migrants. In a little while I’ll start a master trip list so you can follow along.