As this is officially Flashback Friday, I can finally get to the post I had originally planned for last Friday. Before I do that, a quick self-pat on the back. Runkeeper recently notified me I had reached the 10,000 total miles mark.
99.9% of that was thanks to tracking my runs since April 2011. That was about 10 years after I had transitioned to this hobby due to some serious injuries in my true love martial arts that signaled those brutal days in the dojo had run their course – new pains/bruises/breaks were coming faster than I could recover from the last ones. So, in actuality, well short of the total miles covered in my brief running career, but those first few years were training to complete the 7 mile Bix7 race where now the roads have been replaced with ultra-trails. My body definitely appreciates this lower impact hobby (although thanks to running I have had two trips via ambulance to the emergency room where I was able to make it there myself during the combat days ha!) Enough about me, bring on the featured feathered friend for flashback Friday.
Our rather menacing looking bird comes to us courtesy of our birding trip along the Texas Gulf Coast back in January 2020. Seems odd to be talking about flashbacks for an outing that occurring a little more than a year ago – in the past that would have been considered fresh out of the camera.
Hit the jump to read more about our menacing looking bird.
We had just dropped a certain someone off at the Mission, TX airport and decided to explore some new places. First on the list was the McAllen Nature Center. For the geography versed individuals out there, you are correct, Mission and McAllen are NOT on the Texas Gulf Coast. Once we spend several days in the South Padre Island area, we head inland along the Rio Grande Valley to enjoy the incredible birding that region has to offer.
We didn’t know what to really expect at the McAllen Nature Center. Several sites had listed it as a great place to bird. Did some quick research on it and most of the references seemed to focus on the Yoga and Tai Chi events that are held there. Our skepticism was immediately put to rest after two steps out of the RV. Got out, grabbed my camera turned to walk down to the entrance and was immediately welcomed by their Walmart greeter – complete with name tag that said “Hello, my name is Curve-Billed Thrasher”. It graciously allowed me to get a few shots in the tin before thanking us for coming out and heading over to other visitors.
Have to appreciate a site that can produce a +1 a mere 30 seconds into the visit. The first set of shots align to the standard reference shots for this Thrasher. Robin sized, slender frame, long big arc bill along with the brilliant, yet menacing yellow-orange eye. While walking the two miles of trails we came upon this second specimen.
Possibly a younger specimen or maybe just an adult still drying off from the morning shower. Even with that foreboding eye, it looked incredibly cute. I shall call it Mr. Fluffy and it shall be mine. It was quite the character hamming it up for the big glass. Clearly taunting Zoolander, this model could turn LEFT.
How about we get to some interesting tidbits for our long-billed species. First off, if you want to personally witness one of these Thrashers in the US, you will need to put on your mask and do some traveling. Their year-round region consists of Central American and a small push up into the states just north of that (New Mexico, Arizona and, obviously, Texas). Like all Thrashers, they have rather long tails, strong legs and a thick formidable bill used for foraging through the ground scrub looking for their primary food source – insects.
I happen have the local Brown Thrasher (link here) and thanks to a previous trip to the Texas Gulf region the Long-Billed variety (link here). In both those comparisons, the Curve-Billed is aptly named. I also have the pleasure of finding the Crissal Thrasher while out at Henderson NV’s Bird Viewing Preserve. That shot is so damn bad I am not even going to give you the link to it! Those Crissals and from what I can tell from the reference sites, the LeConte’s and California have better rights to the Curve moniker. I brought that up to our specimen above and it humbly buried its bill in its feathers. Cornell has an explanation for this – the naturalist William John Swainson had not seen the other varieties when he found his specimen back in 1827. I apologize to Mr. Fluffy for causing undue emotional trauma.
Leaving you with the back perspective just to round out the full experience (and to appease Ron who is always keeping me on my toes to bring home the angles). Will leave it there for today’s new addition to my NA bird list. Oh, almost forgot, there was a Tai Chi class going on while we were walking the grounds. As it is one of the few styles I have not had experience in, found it quite entertaining and found myself wondering how well it translate onto the mats.