"Convention"al Birding in
Texas and Florida
|I was lucky enough to be taken along for
the ride when my husband had to attend back-to-back conventions in Houston,
Texas and Orlando, Florida. He went to work -
I went to see what birds I could find. Normally, I would have also attended the conferences, but for once I got to go just as a wife. But, I still knew many of the other delegates and needed to spend some time keeping my contacts up. Under any circumstances though, birding looked far more interesting than either the United Council on Welfare Fraud or the British North American Postal Society agendas. So, I played hookey, rented a car and went out to see some of the birding hotspots I had highlighted on my web-pages for that state.
Conditions weren't perfect - I had to be back at the hotels before 5:00 p.m. each night for evening socializing and banquets, and couldn't seem to get on the road until after the conference started each morning (joining colleagues over breakfast). Adding in drives of over an hour just to get to where I was going resulted in mid-day birding trips, not the best time to see anything.
They say only "mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun". Born in Lancashire, England, I certainly qualified. Temperatures in Houston hovered in the mid-90's, even in October, and Orlando wasn't much better at the high 80's. Most self-respecting birds would be resting and waiting for some cooler air during the hottest parts of the day that I had available. So, I primarily focused on exploring the sites themselves - any birds I saw I considered to be a bonus!
Although I have been learning the local Alberta bird calls, Texas and Florida birds were speaking a new language for me. And my birding partner, Duncan, was busy conferencing and not around to help with identifying a fleeting view of a bird in transit. So, as a rank amateur birder, I heard far more birds than I saw, and saw far more birds than I could identify. The following site guides only identify the particularly memorable birds I saw (primarily new life birds for me), rather than an entire list. However, I have provided links to a full checklist for each site.
The photographs were primarily taken with a Kodak DS260 digital camera, but most of the outstanding bird photos were provided by Don DesJardin, who took an interest in my trip from his base in Ventura, California, and provided much helpful advice and assistance.
The birding sites that I managed to get to included:
(Please forward any comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org)