To join Greg on one of these tours visit or call 888-875-9453

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!

Texas Rio Grande Valley – Day 2

Dawn on the Rio Grande River at Salineño, TX
Dawn on the Rio Grande River at Salineño, TX – photo by Greg Miller


We loaded our vehicles this morning at 5:00am and headed up river. Our first stop was the tiny river town of Salineño, TX. We got to watch the sun decorate the landscape in front of us as it rose in the sky. The first light of morning here is always magical. The day started with a sighting of a bobcat swimming across the Rio Grande River! And the birds included Green Kingfisher, Altamira Oriole, Green Jays, Golden-fronted Woodpeckers, and Great Kiskadees.

At 8:00am we walked up the small hill to visit the feeders here. There were Green Jays in abundance, Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, a Long-billed Thrasher, an Inca Dove, some Black-crested Titmice, and the gem of the morning, a pair of Audubon’s Orioles.

From there we headed to the confluence of Zacate Creek and the Rio Grande River in Laredo, TX. Here are goals were the Amazon Kingfisher and White-collared Seedeaters.

In between our morning and afternoon kingfisher & seedeater vigils we ate at a local BBQ restaurant. You know the saying that “Everything is bigger in Texas”? Well, it just might be true. Check out the size of this salad!

Jim Triplett with his Texas sized salad
Jim Triplett with his Texas sized salad – photo by Greg Miller


Unfortunately, after waiting for several hours in both morning and afternoon we had to call it quits and leave both behind. The kingfisher and seedeaters were a no-show. Our consolation prize was a boat load of Chihuahuan Ravens near the Laredo Landfill.

And we made one last stop in Zapata, TX at Bravo Park. Our target of Vermilion Flycatcher turned out to be as easy as the ravens. We saw the bird before we even parked our vehicles. It was dashing in evening daylight.

Vermilion Flycatcher in evening light at Bravo Park in Zapata, TX
Vermilion Flycatcher in evening light at Bravo Park in Zapata, TX – photo by digiscoped Greg Miller


As we left the park we could see a storm was brewing. Here’s a short video of our drive from Zapata back to Mission, TX. (listen to the wipers “clunking”–just a little annoying, right?)

Stormy driving from Zapata TX to Mission TX

We are at 68 species now for the trip after one full day of birding. And we have added 12 new birds for the year bringing the grand total number of species for our Big Year Tours to a respectable 537 species. To date $27,000 dollars has been raised for American Birding Association’s Young Birders. You can help, too, by clicking on the Donate button on this blog! This has been such a successful year that I am planning to do a Big Year with Tours with Wildside Nature Tours again. And, raising more money and awareness for ABA’s Young Birders. I am overwhelmed with the generosity of everyone who has helped make this year so very special! I am definitely looking forward to a bigger and even better 2017.


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