Date: 5/27/18 6:33 am
From: Jaculin Bowman <jaculinb4...> [ILbirds] <ILbirds-noreply...>
Subject: IBET No sighting: Big Bend NP
Have any of you ever pondered a visit to Texas and Big Bend National
Park? Chris and I were inspired to make this a bucket list trip a few
years back, after seeing a report and pictures from Brian Tang. We planned
our trip with the Colima Warbler and Common Black Hawk as our only
potential "lifers" and we went all in on our targets. The path to the only
US breeding ground of the COWA is a steep and narrow path up the Pinnacles
Trail of the Chisos Mountains. We trained for three months on the steepest
climb we could find in Kane County. We would do the .75 miles -50 foot
elevation loop seven times each visit at Johnson's Mound. This practice
actually prepared us quite well for the 10.2 mile -2,000 foot elevation
loop at Big Bend. Day 1: We started up Pinnacles Trail at 5:00am with
headlamps to guide us, the temp was cool and as we ascended the mountain,
we were serenaded by Mexican Whip-poor-wills. As we stopped to enjoy the
sound, one flew across the trail just 25 feet in front of us (a visual of a
prior "audio" lifer). We could see his eyes glowing orange in the light of
our headlamps. We continued to our target COWA area, arriving just after
dawn as planned. We heard him calling and soon he was foraging in trees
right above our heads! We had great audio and good visual of "Lifer #1".
Although lighting and the trees made photographs impossible. Heading up
the trail we heard an additional four COWA.

Day 2: we had the Common Black Hawk on our minds. Driving south to Rio
Grande Village, we parked in front of the known nesting area, but all three
nests we could see seemed to be void of any birds. Driving the road we saw
COBH flying over head - "Lifer #2"!! We birded the area all day checking
the nest area frequently - still no bird on the nest. Stopping at the camp
ground convenience store, I asked the clerk if he knew anything about the
nest. First thing he says is ...."Do you know there are FOUR nests?
That's where she is." What?!? We only saw three. He responds "All I can
tell you is the fourth nest is in the back row of trees." Now we're on a
mission to find that fourth nest...just as we start to survey the fence
line, a car pulls up and the passenger is calling to us "I know where the
nest is!" Sure enough if you looked between the fork in the branches
behind them perfectly framed was Momma COBH sitting on her nest!
Success!!! We spent the next two days exploring the trails of the
mountains and desert of Big Bend. It was an amazing trip with beautiful
sights, sounds and birds.

We encourage anyone considering this trip to take it. Don't let that
mountain intimidate you, if we can do it - so can you!

Here are links to some pictures taken on our adventure. I have some select
photos on my Flickr
<https://www.flickr.com/photos/jibby203/albums/72157697292249165> site, and
the full gallery here on my website
<https://www.naturesjoyphotography.com/Birds/Big-Bend-National-Park/>. If
you're interested in the landscape and sights of Big Bend NP you can check
out this gallery
<https://www.naturesjoyphotography.com/Nature/Big-Bend-landscape-and-such>.

Thanks for taking the time to read about our adventure and I hope you enjoy
the photos too!

Jackie & Chris Bowman
Geneva, IL

*He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou
trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.* Psalm 91:4

 
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