On December 5 more of our group arrived. “Our group”? Yes. The very first informal meeting of the 700+ Club. It’s that crazy group of birders who have done Big Years (trying to see as many species as possible in one calendar year) and have crossed the 700-species mark for North America in a single year. To my knowledge, that is twelve people and ten of us are gathered here in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas.
And to answer the first question that must be running through your head, “Are the guys in the book, The Big Year, all here?”–the answer is “Yes, we are all here.” Wouldn’t you just love to be a fly on the wall to listen to all the conversations and stories? Haha. I thought so.
I birded a half day on Wednesday, December 5. I chose to go to Estero Llano Grande. When I arrived, guess who I met? Other big year birders: John Vanderpoel, John Spahr, and Bob Ake.
We chatted a lot about our big years, strategies, war stories, and birding adventures. We also came across this gorgeous (but dangerous) Eastern Coral Snake.
Here’s a snowy egret that posed for us while we shared stories.
In the afternoon I went to the airport in McAllen to pick up my friend (and birder extraordinaire) Dan Sanders. Dan is doing a Big Year this year in Ohio and is doing quite well. It was hard to convince Dan to leave off a few days of Ohio birding to join the rest of us in Texas. Of course, we all know what that feels like.
Our first meeting was at the Santa Fe Restaurant in McAllen, TX. Jeff Gordon, President of the ABA–the American Birding Association was present to document our informal meeting. I believe it was Jeff who dubbed this dinner as “The List Supper”. Good one!