This so rocks! Teeny, tiny McAllen Airport has free wireless!
So, according to the last entry I was to make a last ditch attempt for an aplomado falcon before heading to the airport to head home to Minneapolis. One of the things I absolutely love about bird festivals and doing so many is the truly awesome network of friends you acquire. Everyone is eager to share information on bird locations and help you get life birds if they can. I had tried for the aplomado on my own on Saturday and Clay the Swarovski rep had given me great directions and a map on a paper plate. I followed them and found myself on a sandy and muddy road (it rained the night before) and was sliding down the road. Being in a minivan on my own with questionable cell phone reception I didn't go all the way down the road and missed the falcon.
Sunday I spoke with the Nikon reps and they had seen the falcon so I thought I would for it this morning. When I was dropping the keys off at my hotel I ran into the Nikon folks and one of the festival guides and reconfirmed my directions and set out. I got a call from Ben and Kate at Eagle Optics, they were going to go for the barn owl and wanted the directions to the one that I saw on Saturday--a lifer for Ben. They were on their way to the falcon and I told them to give me a call if they got it.
As I was going down the sandy road, my phone rang. Kate and Ben were looking at an aplomado and based on their location I had just driven past it. DOH! I back tracked and called back just to confirm where their sighting had been, ten minutes later with the radio blaring U2's Where The Streets Have No Name (what a great song to have on when chasing birds) I was looking at the aplomado falcon they had seen! Sweet! It sat on the pole and then took off and bombed a northern harrier. I called Kate and gave her a blow by blow description.
Later when I was checking into the airport Kate called to confirm she and Ben got the barn owl and the directions were just like I had described them. Whew. I love it when a birding plan comes together!
Alas, no photo to go along with the aplomado falcon.
Thank you to all involved who helped me see this bird. I could almost do an academy award acceptance speech:
I'd like to thank the following people who helped me get this bird (single tear flowing down left cheek): to Clay Taylor who gave me the initial directions--you rock man! (tears down both cheeks) To Jen Brumfeld and Michael Retter who pushed me to just go for it, to Ben and Kate who were there for me when I didn't think I was going to make it, to Amy Hooper who just really made the whole thing possible to begin with, I love you. (all out bawling now with my hand over my heart, deep sigh because I can barely go on) And to you (sniff), Non Birding Bill who has loved and supported me through all my bird (sniff, sniff) I know you don't understand what I do, but you support me and love me and just really...(can't go on, too overwhelmed with tears and emotion)...and oh yeah, thanks Mom, I love you.