23 December 2008

Top Ten Lifers of 2008: Number 9

Since January 2008 I have attended two phenomenal birding festivals (Space Coast and Rio Grande Valley), went on multiple weekend excursions, and have even chased a few rarities. Now my ABA list stands at 309 which isn't bad considering I started 2008 at 185. But really it's not about the numbers. To me the joy of birding comes from the moment you are totally focused on a bird. I love watching the movements, listening to the calls, and soaking in the details.

This is my list and I'm allowed to cheat so coming in at Number 9 are three Rio Grande Valley birds: Altimira Oriole, Audubon's Oriole, and Hooded Oriole.

That little speck flying above the Harris's Hawk is my lifer Altimira Oriole in Texas.

Really, how can you expect me to pick which oriole is the best? Each of these orioles gave me great looks at the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival. My first spotting of the three was on November 6th at The King Ranch were our group found an Audubon's Oriole high on top of a tree and directly in the sun. Thanks to Jeff's scope I could make out the colors and markings. On the Upper Rio trip I saw one in better light.

On the same day as my lifer Audubon's Oriole I also picked up my first Altimira Oriole, this one seen at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. Kim and I hiked up the observation tower to a beautiful Harris's Hawk perched on a nearby snag. Almost instantly a Altimra Oriole came out of nowhere and chased the hawk off. Nothing like seeing a beautiful little lifer bird chasing a big hawk to make your day.

The third oriole would grace me on the Upper Rio trip. While sitting at some feeders checking out the Clay-colored Robins a lone Hooded Oriole swooped in. This great bird was only feet away from me. The details were superb in my binocs. This would give me an oriole trifecta for my birding festival. All three great birds and wonderful experiences with them to boot.

Come back tomorrow for Number 8, this time without cheating.

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