It started when someone posted a photo on a Facebook bird group. "Wow, that's a NICE bird," I thought. Two and a half hours away. Hmm...
More photos the next day. Hmm...
More photos a couple of days after that with a note that, "it shows up nearly like clockwork on the hour." Hmm...
I wake up at 5:30 am, toss the binocs and camera equipment into the car and set off west. Destination - Crescent Bend Nature Park in Schertz, TX.
It was dark. "This is a long drive for a bird," my mind tells me.
It gets lighter and at some point the sun rises behind me in my side view mirror. Vultures rise and swirl. Crested Caracara chase each other. My mood improves.
I arrive at the park around 9:15 am and the birder folk tell me the bird is around. Excellent!
15-20 minutes later - there he is!! This is one of the most stunning woodpeckers I've seen. It's a hybrid cross between a Red-naped Sapsucker and a Red-breasted Sapsucker. Camera drives are clicking furiously. The bird stays maybe a minute. We "ooh" and "ahh", congratulate each other on the sighting and show off some shots.
A couple of people must leave and a seat opens up in a good position for when the bird comes back. I sit. It's a chilly day and very windy. The north wind is blowing in my face and I'm only wearing a light sweatshirt over my shirt. I'm cold. But I am not giving up this seat. The bird will return.
Other birds visit the water and seed occasionally. Two hours pass and I'm mentally questioning if the bird is coming back.
"There he is!" I hear. And I realize I'd been hearing him for a few seconds not knowing it was him. Cute sound, almost kitten-like. This bird is pretty AND adorable. More clicking of shutters. For a second he stops on a horizontal branch. Perfectly. My brain is screaming, "Oh, please. Please, let me get this shot."
I walked around the park for a bit then visited a second nearby birding location before heading home.
It got darker and at some point the sun set behind me in my side view mirror. Vultures settled. Crested Caracara chased each other.
What an amazing day!