Paying It Forward

Tonight has been quite the event.  Headed out to Menards to get a number of 2x4s and other materials for a new project for the garage.  Sparing you the details, but thanks to an ill advised decision by the managers there, but I’ll be getting my lumber from other merchants going forward.  I only mention that to set the mood as I was already perturbed before a White-Tailed Buck opted for a game of Chicken on the way back home.  Barely avoided that before hearing a loud crash at the rear of the truck.  Those of us in big Deer populated areas know all too well, that you need to always be aware of the companions that cross behind.  Looked through my rear view mirror and groaned – couldn’t see the lumber anymore. Pulled to the side and braced myself for disappointment and went back to check the damage.  Turns out hard braking to avoid the Buck caused the tailgate to give way – that was the crash, not another Deer.  Wood was still there, just below my view line in the bed.  Now doubly perturbed, had to slam on the breaks for a second time thanks to a stupid black Cat playing Frogger across my driveway.  Some days it is just better to stay in bed!  Decided the best way to beat the stress was to post on a more uplifting experience. With that I bring you another new check in my birding list.

Common Pauraque discovered at Laguna Atascosa, Los Fresnos, TX in December 2017

How cool is that!  Wait, you can’t see that?  Well, don’t feel too bad, I definitely didn’t see it at first either.  Backing up a bit, I was taking pictures of the Golden-Fronted Woodpecker that was featured several posts back (link here).  A refuge volunteer came up and asked me what I was taking pictures of.  If you recall that post you’ll understand my response was to point to the sign being used to brace the camera.   He then responded with “Do you want to see a Parrot playing croquet?”  Now I ask you, who doesn’t want to see a Parrot playing croquet?  Correct, no one.  Responding with “sure”, I let him pass to lead the way.  Linda (who had arrived at the same time as the volunteer) allowed our tour guide to get a small lead on us before asking me if I even knew what that was. She corrected suspected my response would be “Nope”. Figured it would be a Parrot with a large mallet.

Can you see it now?

Common Pauraque discovered at Laguna Atascosa, Los Fresnos, TX in December 2017

No worries, I was having an equally hard time.

Hit the jump to find out what’s lurking in the brush.

The volunteer brought us to a clump of dense trees where a lady was peering into some underbrush – we later found out it was his wife who was also a refuge volunteer.  Discussion followed between the two trying to determine if what they were looking for was still there.  Honestly, I couldn’t see any Parrots, and there wasn’t any tell-tale signs of wickets, hoops and balls.  Basically stood there and smiled half thinking this was a Boy Scout Snipe hunt. Then the guy announced he had found it and pointed in the supposed direction.

Okay, can you see it now?

Common Pauraque discovered at Laguna Atascosa, Los Fresnos, TX in December 2017

Guessing to no one’s surprise, I had misheard the volunteer.  Apparently Parrots don’t play croquet.  There was however a bird sleeping among the brush – perfectly camouflaged in the browns, tans and greys that color the ground under the surrounding shrubs and trees.  There it was, just sitting there sleeping away in broad daylight.  It was impossible to get a clean shot at it thanks to the thick branches between us.  Finally found a small opening to get these shots – there was nothing I could do about that remaining small twig covering its chest.  Not wanting to embarrass myself, I opted to ask another ranger what this bird was – a member of the Nightjar family called a Common Parraplaysroque… err, sorry, my fact checking department has alerted me the real name of this Nightjar is the Common Pauraque.

Common Pauraque discovered at Laguna Atascosa, Los Fresnos, TX in December 2017

Cornell confirms what we already knew – they are very well camouflaged.  I wonder how many people had simply walked by that section without a clue of the Pauraque’s presence.  From a region perspective, this species is another one that only reaches the very southern tip of Texas preferring the Central America and northern South America coastlines.  One interesting trait they noted is the Pauraque has the ability to use its very small legs to leap off the ground to snag low-flying insects over a meter off the ground.   I did manage to get this head on shot, but again, this bird had a picked a perfect location for an undisturbed rest.

Common Pauraque discovered at Laguna Atascosa, Los Fresnos, TX in December 2017

As if the find wasn’t satisfying enough, this encounter ends with one of the most uplifting experiences I have had (and thus why it was a good fit to provide the Ying for my earlier bad Yang).  Later that day, I circled back to get a few wide angle camo pictures to use on this post (trust me, I’m always thinking about the posts ha).  There was an older gentleman walking 20 to 30 feet from where the volunteer had pointed out the bird.  He had a camera hanging from his neck and was accompanied by two ladies and a young girl with binoculars around her neck.  Someone had given him a general direction to the bird, but he was busy apologizing to the girl that it must have left.  I politely asked him if he was looking for “the” bird which he confirmed.  Similar to the guidance provided me earlier, I brought him over to the real location and directed his eyes to the proper place.  Eventually he spotted it and called for his granddaughter to come over to see it.  The sheer joy he showed pointing out the bird made my heart grow “three sizes” that day.  If his granddaughter didn’t have a love for birding before then, she was officially hooked at the sight of this resting Nightjar.  We talked a bit and I learned they were from Cleveland – definitely not going to see this bird up there!  I had to get back to Linda so said our goodbyes and headed off feeling good I was able to pay it forward from the helpful volunteer earlier.

Take it easy everyone and remember to honor those that took the time to help you out over the years!


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