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In 1998, Greg zig-zagged 130,000 miles across the USA, while trying to hold down a full-time job, aspiring to reach at least 700 species of birds in one calendar year. "The Big Year," a novel by Mark Obmascik detailed his travails alongside two competitors. The book was later turned into a movie of the same title that starred Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson!

Louisiana-Texas Day 5

I cannot believe it is already Day 5 of our Big Year Tour with Wildside Nature Tours! The week has gone so fast with great places to explore, fabulous birds, and terrific places to eat. It has been a grand experience.

I looked at radar and decided to head directly west this morning. Our first stop was Sabine Pass in far southeastern Texas where we found a wet field with many Seaside Sparrows. I counted 6 with one binocular scan of the field. But I know there were more. And several Clapper Rails just walked across the road in front of us as if our vehicle did not exist. It was a fun way to start the day.

From there we headed to Sabine Woods. Upon arrival it was easy to see there was no major movement of birds. Still, I am always delighted to see Scarlet Tanagers. And at one place we found 3 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers chasing each other.

The weather changed quickly as we were leaving. The sunlight faded as a sharp line of darkness engulfed the sky.

Dark skies near Sabine Pass, TX
Dark skies near Sabine Pass, TX on April 21, 2016 – photo by Greg Miller


We sat out the lightning and pouring rain in Winnie, TX. Expectantly, we rode down to the famous migration hotspot mentioned in the movie, The Big Year. High Island has witnessed legendary migrations. This place can be like Disneyworld for birders. I thought maybe the storm had knocked down some birds. But if it did, those numbers were few. I had a startlingly low total of 12 species at Boy Scout Woods in about 1.5 hrs of hiking trails. And only one single warbler species–4 Tennessee Warblers in a bottlebrush bush on the walk back to the parking area.

Birding can be amazing, but not always as we expect it to be. It is the surprises that arouse my curiosity and leave me with a sense of wonder. 12 total species is a shockingly low number. And it affects my Big Year. But rather than being upset, I am just full of questions. There is so much I still do not know about them.

With remaining daylight we birded Rollover Pass on the Bolivar Peninsula. There were many birds present but again, not as many as I expected. But our visit was near high tide. Was that a factor? Probably.

We finished the day with 89 species. Not bad. The trip total is now 170. And the year total is 329. Tomorrow we will hit High Island, Bolivar Flats, and Anahuac NWR. Who knows what the day will bring?


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