Date: 4/11/17 9:36 am From: Anthony Hewetson <fattonybirds...> Subject: [texbirds] My last fifteen TCC counties - prologue - long
Greetings All: As some of you might recall, I sent out a post (a warning, if you will) that I was going to get out some reports on my recent trip to northeast Texas during which I added the last fifteen counties to my Texas Century Club efforts. It took me quite some time to get all the eBird data from the trip entered (which I needed to get done first - as it is a great way to track one's accuracy in tallying species) but I'm finally getting on it.
I know a lot folk don't care about this stuff and I think you all know that is why the folk who invented computers came up with the Delete key:) On the other hand a lot of folk have asked a lot of questions and this is about as texbirds as you can get ... so I will send out a post about each day's efforts over the next few days.
At the beginning of 2017 I was still fifteen counties short, having seen 100 species in only 239 of Texas' counties. Looking at those counties (Camp, Cherokee, Delta, Franklin, Gregg, Henderson, Hopkins, Kaufman, Morris, Rains, Smith, Titus, Upshur, Van Zandt, and Wood) and the dates of my previous visits to the counties, it seemed that I might be able to cobble together enough winter lingerers and early spring arrivals - at some point in March - to knock them all off over the course of a long week.
The overarching strategy: to pick a home base in a county central to my efforts (to ensure that I was never more than an hour from a good starting point) and to work the southern counties first and the northern counties last (to take advantage of the difference a hundred miles can make in terms of spring arrivals).
I chose Mineola in Wood County for two reasons: it was central to my efforts and it was the county with the lowest list: a mere 10 species. This would allow me to whittle away at the total over the course of each trip through the county. The good folk at the Best Western in Mineola offered me a great rate for my eight night stay and seemed to get a kick out of my early departures and sweaty arrivals - which made the whole thing much more enjoyable.
The initial plan was to do Rains County (75 species already on the list) on the way over to Mineola on the 11th; to snake Kaufman (72), Henderson (72), and Van Zandt (66) on the 12th; Smith in part (11) and Cherokee (62) on the 13th; Smith in part (??) and Gregg (51) on the 14th; Upshur (52) and Camp in part (52) on the 15th; Camp in part (??) and Morris (51) on the 16th; Titus (53) and Franklin (31) on the 17th; Hopkins (39) and Delta (70) on the 18th; and Wood (10) incidentally every day with a wrap up, if needed, on the 19th.
Each day's success would hinge on an early departure, focused visits to large bodies of water for deepwater species, focused visits to wooded areas for woodland species, and a lot of wandering about mixed habitat in search of duck-sporting ponds and sparrow-sporting grasslands (both of which can be a bit hard to find in The Pineywoods portion of Texas), and a relatively early arrival back at the hotel so that I could have time to decompress. In other words, a fairly rigorous routine for a vacation:)
Questions that folk have asked me: where did I start, species wise, in each county; where did I end up; what ended up being my 100th species for each county; what were my pad species (the ones over 100 that would cover any accounting errors I made during the day); what were the highlights (avian or not) of the day; and - from a lot of people who seem to view this as a form of insanity - was it fun?
Most of these questions I will answer during the daily trip posts but as to the last one: Yes, it was fun in a very brutal sort of way. I had to stick to a routine, I had to track additions relentlessly and accurately, I had to bail on counties as soon as I had 100 and a pad - which meant leaving a lot of beautiful sites before I really wanted to (this part of Texas is stunningly beautiful in early spring) --- AND --- by the end of the trip I realized that I was not 25 any more:) In point of fact, I realized that I was not a spritely 50 any more:) :)
Watch this space;
Anthony 'Fat Tony' Hewetson; recently of Mineola, Texas - back in Lubbock, Texas.