At 7:30 AM we were stuck in the middle of a muddy field. Bill was pushing my car while I drove through the mud. It’s cold, windy and void of both Mountain Plovers and Sprague’s Pipits (we eventually worked my car out of the mud). We then struggled on to Laguna Atascosa NWR where the wind made it difficult to scope anything in the Laguna Madera. At 1:00PM I had added one species to the Big Year total.
I was mad at myself, not so much for the unproductive birding, as for the flaw in strategy! This whole day was planned around seeking out”Non LRGV specialty birds”. Mountain Plovers breed in Colorado, Sprague’s Pipit will be a certainty on my N. Dakota trip in June and all of the shorebirds we might have seen are certain later this year. We were headed to Sabal Palm where Dusky-capped Flycatcher was being seen, when after some prodding from Bill, I came to my senses and made a command decision. “Let’s go back to Santa Ana and try again for the Blue Bunting.
Conditions were now perfect. The wind had died and it was warming and sunny. Birds were active along the Jaguarundi Trail. Pyrrhuloxias fed on the trail along with ground-doves. As we moved on we heard bunting call notes and saw several Indigo Buntings. Excitement was now in the air. A Groove-billed Ani perched up for us. We advanced quietly along the trail. Suddenly it popped up in to a bush 20 feet in front of us. A chocolate-brown colored bunting! It was a female Blue Bunting! Mega rarity number seven for the year and a valuable lesson learned by me. When in a specialty bird area, spend your time concentrating on the specialty birds.