It was really difficult to contain my excitement this morning. I had made arrangements to visit Allen Williams at his home in Pharr. He had reported a Crimson-collared Grosbeak a couple of days ago, and since the other grosbeak which had been reported at Valley Nature Center wasn't seen yesterday, I decided to look for the bird with Allen at his place. After a mistake with his address and a follow-up call to Allen, I finally parked the car and walked into his yard. His wife popped out of the house and the three of us chatted for a bit about how putting in native plants on their property had blossomed (?) into a full-time business in the Valley. He took me on a tour of the property, a little over three acres. All the while the two of us were listening for the up-down call note of the grosbeak. We saw a Clay-colored Thrush (lower photo) which used to be a very rare bird, but has now become a regular breeder in the Valley. A Curve-billed Thrasher hopped into the birdbath. A Kiskadee called. After our walk during which he put fresh fruit out on tree snags, we separated, he going toward the front yard while I stayed in the back. Finally Allen called, I heard the call note, and the bird flew into a tree next to me where I was able to get a recognizable image (photo, manual focus) for the record. In the photo the bird is chewing on a leaf. Yum! I hung around in the hopes I might get a better one. But aside from another brief good look at the bird, another photo-op didn't materialize. I left Allen to get on with his work and drove to Denny's where I had a nice breakfast, and used their wifi to catch up on the day's bird happenings. Which were - the Fork-tailed Flycatcher in CT was seen today and the Thick-billed Vireo in FL was seen again and verified. The chase is still on.
I had much of the day left to bird so I drove to NABA's Butterfly Park near Bentsen SP where a Rufous-backed Thrush had been found. Although it was seen today by a staff member, it didn't come to the birdbath as hoped while I was there. I did see some nice birds and the mix sort of reminded me of a good Christmas Bird Count up north on steroids. Lots of Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Orange-crowned Warblers, many Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Blue-headed and White-eyed Vireos, House Wrens. You get the picture. There were, of course, some Valley specialties such as Olive Sparrow, Long-billed Thrasher, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Great Kiskadee, Black-crested Titmouse, and Green Jays. And, oh yes, the butterflies! They were unbelievable, colorful, varied, and plentiful. I got a lifer with the appearance of a Tropical Leafwing. I also ID'ed one a Comma only to find that Comma's don't occur in the Valley. Ah me!
So now I'm in the Harlingen airport waiting for my flight to San Antonio which is already an hour late. When I get to San Antonio, I'll try to get a good night's sleep before my early departure tomorrow to meet up with the intrepid Mr. Abbott in CT. May the Fork-tailed Flycatcher be there tomorrow afternoon.