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.


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