There are a lot of things necessary to have a successful “Big Year”. You need to do a great deal of planning up front. Strong family support, friends that are helpful in offering advice and encouragement and are willing to take time to bird with you are all critical. Developing connections are important. From what I’ve learned about Sandy Komito’s 1998 record breaking year, his connections were extremely helpful. I began the year with some excellent connections and have added more as the year has progressed. Like EF Hutton when Jon Dunn and Paul Lehman talk, I listen. (Note to JLD –obviously this doesn’t include your political rhetoric) Now Dunn has been telling me for over a month that my best chance for White-eared Hummingbird this year may be in West Texas. He suggested I contact Mark Lockwood, but I didn’t have any contact information for him. I’m biased towards Southeastern Arizona for hummingbirds anyway and have been hopeful that White-eared Hummingbirds would eventually show up in the sky islands of SE Arizona. So far however that hasn’t been the case.
Yesterday, while discussing Alaska fall birding with Paul Lehman, he reiterated what JLD had advised me. Try the Davis Mountains of West Texas; get in touch with Mark Lockwood. This was enough to start the ball rolling. I decided to call Susan Billetdeaux of NARBA. She is well connected particularly in Texas and has been a valuable ally of late. Susan said she would make inquiries for me and would contact Carolyn Ohls, whom I was fortunate to meet in April at her fabulous Christmas Mountains Bird Sanctuary west of Big Bend National Park.
Soon after Larry Manfredi dropped me off at the Best Western, I received a call from Susan. Carolyn had contacted her and one of her friends, Barbara House, had an adult male White-eared at her feeder in the Davis Mountains. Bingo, that’s how this stuff works. I’m now on a flight to Midland, TX (standby has worked again). I’ll drive to Odessa, TX tonight then arrive in Ft. Davis tomorrow morning. No guarantees, but at least WEHU is now back in play. And oh by the way, I’ve been told that Montezuma’s Quail should “not be a problem”. Stay tuned and we’ll see what happens tomorrow.