Got a few new lifers in New Zealand over the Xmas break.New Zealand King Shag
- bird #2003Yellow-crowned Parakeet
- bird #2004 (no photo because one of the annoying people with me scared it off by yelling that they saw it as I tried to photograph it from 10 feet away
Here's the lifer King Shags (quick shot as the boat powered by) -
and a shot from their breeding colony the next day. This is probably one of the most handsome of the cormorants and is only found in this very small area off the South Island of New Zealand -
....but today I did something I said I would never do.
When I first started birding (33 years ago! gulp!) my birding buddy and I used to laugh about "border birders". We cracked up at the thought of people standing along the Rio Grande in Texas watching a bird on the Mexican side of the border waiting for it to fly at least over the middle of the river before they could count it on their US bird list.
Today I spent three and a half hours watching one Amazon Kingfisher sitting on a branch on the south side of the Rio Grande waiting for it to fly into US "airspace".
I told myself I wouldn't do it. But when I got down to Laredo and pulled into the park where the bird was I saw it sitting in a tree on the Mexican side of the river. It was obviously the right bird. There was another guy there who said it had just been over to the US side about 2 minutes before I drove up, so I thought...."what the hell, I might as well wait a few minutes just to be official".
The first guy left and another couple showed up who had been there for 4 hours already but had missed its brief US visit because he had to drive her to the bathrooms (some distance away). He wasn't very happy.
I wondered if I should wait, but decided I would give it a few minutes because I knew if I drove home the first thing I would read on Facebook was that it had flown over to the US and posed on a tree in perfect light for 20 minutes immediately after I drove off!.....I'll wait until I get hungry for lunch....
The bird came and went along the Mexican side, catching fish and moving back and forth between two trees. I got great looks at it since it was only 200 feet across the river and we were looking through binoculars. It never crossed and I got hungry so I went and got some food......then drove back to the river. What if it came immediately after I had driven off? I mean, I had waited an hour already, what's a few more minutes.
When I got back there, there were a few more birders from all over the US. We stood and talked and looked at the bird so close. Some of them were hardcore birders who were trying to figure out exactly where the middle of the river was. Then we argued about whether that island that it was actually on was in the US or Mexico. Google maps showed Mexico, but ebird created a US checklist when you chose that spot in the app? We went round and round, several people saying they were going to give up and come back in the morning, etc., etc. but not leaving.
Finally, at 4:15 pm it suddenly bolted east along the river but stayed on the Mexican bank. We followed it with our binoculars until it landed on a snag 100 yards downstream. We all picked up and moved down there hoping we might flush it and it would come back up to its normal haunt. The wind was favorable for it to blow across into the US airspace as it flew!
We got down there and chatted a while longer and while we were chatting, we looked up.....and it was gone. Panic set in as we scanned the river, particularly our side. Finally someone spotted it another 20 yards downstream still in Mexico. We started down that way when suddenly at 4:20pm it decided to fly over to the US side and fly 100 yards further downstream. But it had clearly flown along the US bank! It counted!!!! Actually, it landed in a small tree on the US side further downstream so we all got great looks at a US Amazon Kingfisher.
Some of them chased it downstream to try and get a picture of it in the US. I couldn't be bothered. I had lots of lousy photos of in the tree in Mexico so I didn't bother. As I walked to my car, I looked back and saw it fly further downstream out of their camera reach anyway.
So I waited 3.5 hours standing on a river bank for a stupid Kingfisher (which I had seen before BTW) to fly into US airspace so I could put it on my US list. God I suck!
I'm such a birder and I'm so embarrassed that I did this.
Anyway, here's my 551st US bird and my 471st Texas bird (in Mexico a few hours before it became that).