Overly Dramatic Painted Bunting

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 11.34.43 AM As cool as it is to do work in south Texas during spring migration, things like worm-eating warblers are really distracting when one has serious deadlines looming.

Things have been quiet on the blog and a little bit on the podcast front because I have been knee deep in a fun project with several partners including Swarovski Optik, Princeton University Press, South Texas Nature, Alamo Inn Bed and Breakfast and Birds Eye Birding and well, even poor Non Birding Bill. Here's  snippet of some footage I'm putting together for a program Clay and I going to do about it at this week's ABA Convention (it looks better if you watch it in HD):


So what's been occupying my brain? A web series which will premiere May 8, 2014 on my YouTube Channel. It will air once a week for 8 weeks. All the bird footage in each episode was digiscoped by Clay Taylor and me. And on top of that, all the birds in each episode are a clue to the series theme. If you correctly guess what the theme is, you will be entered into a drawing for a Swarovski Spotting Scope (and a few other prizes).


Each episode is only 5-10 minutes long and features a digiscoping and birding tip and a little bit of info about some of our favorite places for birding and designed to be something you could watch on a break at work--so safe for work viewing for sure.

One of the challenges that Clay and I have filming this is that most if it is outdoors and "pretending" to be digiscoping in great places like South Padre Island during migration. That's when we had the above scarlet tanager fly in front of us. Of course you're going to digiscope that...but do I have an episode that it will fit in based on time of year and the series theme? And aren't we supposed to film some dialog?  Ah well.

Despite all of the challenges, this project has incorporated all of my favorite things: birds, travel, working with good friends and colleagues and stretching all of my creative muscles. Here's a preview if you haven't seen it yet:


If you could share the trailer on your various social medias, I'd appreciate it.  I'm hoping this opens  the door for other bird series (whether by me or others) to show up on YouTube or other venues. If you want to make sure to not miss one of the 8 episodes, subscribe to the YouTube Channel.

The drawing for the scope winner happens in the 8th episode.

I have to give some major props to poor Non Birding Bill, he's had to travel along with me for help. He even travelled with me to the Rio Grande Valley...during spring migration.

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It's weird that so much of my life is on the road and I have a passel of good friends he's never met in person and with this project, he's had a chance. It was also fun to run into the likes of Greg Miller (aka Jack Black's character in the The Big Year movie). Here's Greg trying to wow NBB with birds as Estero Llano Grande State Park. Bill did concede that the pauraques were cool.

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Oh and speaking of pauraques, you know how they're always a possibility at Estero near Alligator Lake? They're currently tucked further back and there are babies! How many birds can you make out in the above photo?

Clay and I had been warned that the birds were tucked a bit. We were trying to find them when one just kind of ambled out and was stretching wings. The bird suddenly noticed Clay and I staring at  it in awe and then it scurried behind a yucca--I had no idea those things could scurry. We grabbed our scopes to try and digiscope it, making sure to stay on the trail. We had to practically hand to be on all fours to see her from the trail, but Clay found her lurking way back. With the naked eye, she looked really puffed out. I wondered aloud, "Is she incubating eggs since she's puffed out like that?"

Clay got the scope on her and said, "She's not puffed out, those are chicks!"

Sure enough, she had two chicks snuggling out from her breast--how cool to see that!

Alas, pauraques do not fit into the series theme for the show...maybe this show will be good enough that I can get another series commissioned?