The Taken For Granted Challenge: my epic failure.

I suppose you could say I came in second in this challenge.  But really I just lost.  For those that missed the post about the challenge, check it out hereNate sent me my bird list bright and early:

Evening Grosbeak
Thayer's Gull
Band-tailed Pigeon
Red-breasted Sapsucker
County bird: Northern Pygmy-Owl

The two birds that had me panicked were the grosbeak and the pigeon- both higher elevation birds that I rarely see in the county.  At first I light I dragged the mutts up to Pittock Mansion to begin the hunt.

Hmm.  I said light, right?  A heavy fog was blowing through, along with a chilly mist.  I barely saw any birds there at all...   I threw in the towel and drove over to Washington Park where I've had luck with Band-taileds before...

This dude was not helpful.  Ralph didn't trust him either.  I managed a rainy shot of a Varied Thrush in the shadows...

After getting soaked I decided to take the dogs home and chug another mug of coffee before setting out yet again.  My plan was to nab a Thayer's Gull at Westmoreland Park, then hit up Mount Tabor and Larch Mountain.  Plan was quickly crushed when I found Westmoreland in complete disrepair.

Ummm yeah, so the gull went out the window at that point.  I headed over to Mount Tabor to battle the Sunday crowds.  It was pretty if you tuned out the people...

As with most things I guess.  I took a quick peek at a Merlin before forcing myself to stay on target.

I left the park without finding any of the birds I was looking for.  I was bummed and frustrated.  I really just wanted to quit for the day.  Turns out, this kind of birding makes me never want to bird again.  But I pushed on...

Larch Mountain was my next destination, but I stopped at Chinook Landing along the way.  It was quiet, peaceful, and everything the last few parks had not been.  Much better.  I wandered around for a long time, still not finding any of my targets, though my morale eventually improved.

I followed a small flock of chickadees and kinglets, hoping a Bushtit would show up.  No luck.

After that I continued to Larch Mountain.  The fog increased with elevation, as did the rain.  I made some brief attempts at pgymy owls and then called it quits to drive back into town where the weather was mellow.  I hoped I could at least get Bushtits and maybe sapsucker at Whitaker Ponds.

I ran into my friend there who had just seen some Bushtits and thankfully we found them easily.

Phew.  Redemeption.  This Steller's Jay at the ponds was also rather cooperative...

I left Whitaker around 4 and decided to make one last effort for the sapsucker.  It didn't pan out, but the sunset was lovely.

So, that's that.  Now I know I hate that kind of birding.  Learning is good, right?  Nate won by only one bird, though he also found a sweet rare bird for his county which probably counts for even more.  We're number 2!  We're number 2!  Not quite good times...


  1. Good times, Jen. Love the Bushtit, Steller's Jay, and Varied Thrush shots. Super jealous. Much love from Texas.

  2. I thought Band-tailed was a spring/summer bird in Portland. Perhaps not possible right now?

    And NOPO - that ain't a common/taken for granted bird here.

    I don't know about this selection...

    1. To be fair, Rhett, Cave Swallow and Sedge Wren are most likely not possible in Travis county right now either. And none of us take Ringed Kingfisher or LeConte's Sparrow for granted.

    2. Well, there was a fairly recent BTPI sighting near Pittock Mansion, but yeah most are probably gone now.

  3. I'm with Rhett. You did good, those were really hard. Besides I hear Texas beer sucks so you didn't miss out on anything.

  4. I hope some was for fun too, you made a good attempt. The Bushtit is a cutie. I would love to see the Varied Thrush! Happy birding, Jen!

  5. What a challenge you stuck it out and brought one back!! Atta Girl!! The weather seemed to play a big roll in your search so I'd say try it again when the weather is more predictable and the day is long and full of daylight!! You saw some good "uns" anywho so dont be disappointed!!

  6. He wiped the floor with you FJ! Are you going to accept that? But at least you got Bushtit....all would be lost without a bushtit. For the rematch, maybe yall should make rules about checking eBird to make sure your respective lists aren't too fucked up.

    Interesting that BTPI is seasonal up there, I think that's a species whose movements I'd like to learn more about. In my hometown on the coastal plain (in SoCal) they are a fairly common suburban bird this time of year.


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