We started looking for the Tropical Parula on the University of Texas Pan-American campus. We spent over an hour and a half searching the area where it supposedly frequented. We were losing hope. It was then that I got a call from Mike from across the campus with those three words every birder likes to hear; "I GOT IT!".
It was very flighty, never sitting in one spot for very long and always staying high in the tree canopy. Thus, this was a tough bird to photograph. I wasn't about to leave without some documentation, and I eventually got it. This was a lifer for both Mike and I!
Swallows were flying high overhead and were somewhat back-lit, making it hard to get an identification. I started shooting at swallows flying over, hoping they would turn out to be Caves. The first was a tree. Second was a Cave! The strategy paid off...
The next day (12/21), Mike and I headed east toward South Padre Island. We first looked for Aplomado Falcons along Old Port Isabel Road without success. Today was extremely windy and made birding frustratingly difficult. We then stopped at Palo Alto Battlefield where the Hubingers said we may have luck with Cassin's Sparrow. They were right! At least one Cassin's popped up from the vegetation as we walked the path.
This trip to South Texas puts me up to 585 for the year. This is likely the number I will end the year with. If I have forgotten any, I'll add them when I catch them.
I want to thank everyone who supported this endeavor in one way or another. I will make at least one more post thanking everyone for their support and include some of the highlights from the year. If you pledged for this effort, I will send you an email shortly after the new year with instructions and gratitude.
Happy New Year everyone! I look forward to a wonderful 2014!