Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Blucher Park: Chucked Out and Great Kisses

Blucher Park...a small, fairly ubiquitous park in the midst of Corpus Christi, one that doesn't immediately emanate the vibe of 'fantastic birding spot'. Sure, it's got some thick vegetation. The Chimney Swifts and Cardinals make their presence known. But what sets it apart from other similar constructs? Well, maybe all Corpus parks have excellent birds. Certainly catching Blucher Park earlier in the season yields some phenomenal results, like perched and crushable Chuck-wills-widows. 

After dropping off cousin Mike early in the morning, Blucher Park was a quick stop before continuing on to Anahuac and the Bolivar Peninsula. It was late in the season, but maybe, just maybe, a Chuck-wills-widow--at this point a heard-only bird--would still be around. 
I'll be mercifully blunt, instead of dragging you through hours of scrupulous searching high and low like that which I had to endure: no, there were not. The park was small enough that I can confidently say I searched the whole place, also enduring a latch-on (somebody who just follows you around because, hey, they're not busy, and you clearly are just watching birds so you don't have anything else going on either, let's be buddies but I won't even offer you a smoke) without any nightjars. However, and perhaps unusually for Butler's Birds and my general temperament, this is not an anecdote leading to a large excoriation of one thing or another. Blucher Park did indeed cough up a life bird, and even more than that, it gave personally unprecedented, crushing views of one of the best North American birds, the Great Kiskadee.

There were three of these large, loud, and thoroughly handsome, dominating birds at the park. The two parents were constantly harassed and solicited by their amply-sized chick. It was not yet a Great Kiskadee, but was a Pretty Good Kiskadee.

They foraged/patrolled the little creek bisecting Blucher Park, and unlike at the larger nature preserves where I had previously been chasing these birds, they were pretty accustomed to people. In fact, one of the birds perched on the ledge of the elevated concrete bridge over the creek not more than ten feet away, and just...abided. This bird did not care, perhaps because of its eminent beautifulness. 

*Note the faint yellow on the crown

The overwhelming good it did heart and soul to have such confiding time with these magnificent specimens cannot be articulated, not now any better than it was then. Faces melted and hearts palpitated. The exclamations and expletives even dried up, a rare day indeed.
But luckily another articulation took its place, the simultaneously musical and interrupted vocalization of a Vireo, one with a suspiciously yellow belly and appropriately so, for its courage, if not its braggadocio, could be called into question.

There are several species of Vireo, Yellow-green included, that remind me of someone who's trying to sing a song but does not know the lyrics very well, or an inexperienced kid practicing an instrument. There are frequent, awkward pauses before subsequent notes or lyrics are made, and all of the notes are made a bit more boldly or loudly than a more nuanced, experience playing would advise.
This is not meant as an admonition of the Vireo chorus of course; I appreciate that it makes their songs easier to pick out from the canopies, where this relatively rare bird spent its time. It's just 'inneresting.

The YGVI doesn't have quite the stage presence of a daylight Chuck-wills-widow, but statistically speaking it's the rarer bird and a better find. Apparently this bird had been hanging out at Blucher Park for at least a week, but being removed from the internet for a while I was not plugged into this fact, and thus even got the feel good boost, for a couple of days, of having found my own little rarity. That being said, the best bird of the day was still the Great Kiskadee, big, bold, raw, and unapologetic. 
See this bird before you die. In fact, if this bird is your cause of death, and you get a good look at it in the process, that'd be the perfect way to go. 
* Nate McGowan rocked it in such a way and posted at almost the same time. The universe is telling us something.

I'll be away, again, from the civilized world for a couple of days, though this time I shall not flee civilization to such an extent that I'll go to Texas (lol no jkjkjkjk totes rotfl), and hopefully there'll be some AZ birds getting back into the mix. But if you're getting tired of the Texas posts, well, that's just too damn bad, because there's more coming!
In the mean time, merry birding to all, and to all a good birding!