The trip around the Gulf of Mexico was mostly uneventful. We did manage to see Red-cockaded Woodpecker and a few other new birds but mostly we just saw asphalt and tail lights as we drove fairly hard for two days.
We’re back in Texas and looking forward to seeing some of the winter visitors and rarities that have been hanging out here while we were away on the east coast. We hope we don’t see a repeat of the pattern that has plagued us so far: birds that have been reported on the rare bird alerts for days, weeks, or even months, mysteriously evaporate when we try to see them! The best example of this sad phenomenon has to be the Brown Booby that showed up on Cape Cod, MA after a hurricane in August. It hung around for over four months but then left about a week before we went to Cape Cod to try to see it. (It looks like a similar fate will befall us with regard to the Black-vented Oriole. It was at Bentsen – Rio Grande Valley State Park for months but is now no longer being seen. Sigh!)
Even without some of the rarities, though, we will be happy to get back to the Rio Grande Valley. We don’t want to knock the east coast. We saw over 90% of the birds we expected to see there. But there is nothing quite like the RGV in winter.
We’ll need to be patient for a couple of more days as we work our way down the Texas coast toward home. We plan to try for longspurs and gulls near Houston, make a swing through Texas City to see if any Monk Parakeets are still hanging around, then search for Whooping Cranes near Goose Island State Park before turning to deep south Texas for the stretch run to the RGV.