Jeff Gordon's Mad Field Trippin' Skillz

Here are some slightly blurry, but oh so cool crested caracaras:

So on Friday I went birding on the King Ranch field trip to look for that ferruginous pygmy owl. It was supposed to be a chigger-ful area and after last year, you would think I would show more caution. Many were using duct tape to cover up shoe lace openings to prevent a chigger foot infestation:

The field trip leaders provided a plethora of colors for people to choose from.

Some even tried to cover up their sandals.

Some couldn't decide on which color to use.

Others (myself included) decided to throw caution to the wind and try our luck. To my surprise, I didn't get any chigger bites of my feet--whoot!

So Jeff Gordon--aka Jeff Gyr was one of the leaders on that trip. I knew Jeff was a good guy, great birder, all around fun to spend the day with, but I really had no idea of how good a field trip leader he is. Not only does he have a fun and easy going style and will work to get you the bird you want, but he goes the extra mile of really explaining what is going on--where to stand, when to be quiet and for how long--just several little things that really puts him over the top in the world of trip leading.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was this Sprague's pipit above. I had seen these at the Potholes and Prairie Bird Fest in North Dakota and it's not a species I expected to photograph. You usually don't see them until they are flushed or if they are doing a display flight. They kind of circle up in the air, almost as if they were climbing stairs. Then they fly around and do a little kiting (in the breeding season, they give their haunting call) and then they drop like a stone from the sky and land on the ground--not easy to photograph, let alone digiscope. Well, Jeff had everyone line up in a certain way, flush the bird and we got to watch it do its flight routine (without the song). After it landed, he had most of us stay on the other side of the field while he and a small group walked near where it landed. They moved slowly and followed the bird and eventually the bird walked out into the open--and even on to the gravel road--the whole group of 50 some odd people got to see the Sprague's pipit. Well played, Mr. Gordon, well played.

We also found a couple of other interesting things like this small mantis and...

and some sulphur shelf--no, I didn't collect and eat this one. Kind of hard to cook it when all you have in your room is a coffee pot.