The first weekend in October, I celebrated my birthday by taking Friday off work and heading south in search of yet another rare bird. Yes, I've been doing a lot of that lately. This one has been seen in the evenings, so I allowed myself to sleep in. I took my time having breakfast, packing, doing a few chores so I wouldn't come home to a filthy apartment, and I was off to the Brooks County Rest Area, aka the Falfurrias rest stop. I arrived in the late afternoon. Sitting at one of the picnic tables, watching me, waiting to be noticed, was one of the most beautiful birds I have ever seen.
The Painted Redstart is a western species far from his normal range. It has been said he might be the same bird that spent a couple of months here last year. I think it has to be. What are the odds of two individuals finding their way here?
I took several photographs before he flew off into the trees. He didn't go far, though, and I swear he expected me to follow. He seems to know he's the main attraction. Someone remarked on the Texbirds sight that he is "quite a ham". I agree. He even sang his beautiful song right to me.
I spent a little time admiring the redstart, then took a look around the rest of the site. I'm normally excited to see woodpeckers, but I was trying to photograph a Green Jay. I'd focus, push the button, and then the jay was gone, a Golden-fronted Woodpecker in his place.
The woodpeckers were after the Great Kiskadee, too. They didn't want to share the fruit hanging from the palm tree. He wasn't here long before they ran him off. He returned several times to steal a bite or two at a time.
I stayed until sunset on Friday, enjoyed my dinner in the picnic area, and found a hotel to spend the night before heading further south in search of Rio Grande Valley specialties.
I stopped by again on my way back north and found a Summer Tanager. The woodpeckers were still chasing the Kiskadee, Jays, and Kingbirds, and the Redstart was still there. I saw some people who looked like birders - they're the ones with binoculars, staring up at the trees - and decided it was my chance to pay it forward. So many have been helping me, and it was finally my turn to be helpful.
"Are you looking for the redstart?" I asked. "I just saw him beside the restrooms," and I led them to him.
Add this site to my short list of favorites. The birds seem active all day. I think I'll be stopping here every time I head south on US281.
I'm linking up this week with Wild Bird Wednesday.
10/3/2014 Evening, and 10/5/2014 Midday
Clear, Sunny skies
Species Identified (12): Painted Redstart, Green Jay, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Eastern Bluebird, Turkey Vulture, Black Vulture, Eurasian Collared-dove, American Goldfinch, Great Kiskadee, Couch's Kingbird, Summer Tanager, Lesser Goldfinch