Yes indeed, if you've seen this bird, you're in an elite bunch of birders that were willing to make the trek (some people refer to it as a "death march") up to roughly 6000 feet in Big Bend National Park.
Below you can see our route; it may look like gibberish now... but believe me, when you hike it, you are tuned in to exactly where you are (and how much farther to go!):
We took the climb slowly but it was hard to go fast when we had scenery like this behind us!
Besides, we saw lots of fascinating things on the way up. For example, here is Echinocereus triglochidiatus, a kind of hedgehog cactus. Apparently it has several common names such as Claretcup, Kingcup cactus, or Mojave mound cactus. Whatever name you choose, it was quite vivid even in the morning shade:
The Pinnacles Trail soon started getting a bit more serious though and we focused our attention on the terrain ahead:
You can see the white eyering, orange cap, and yellow rump/undertail. It perched there and sang for many minutes. We were all on cloud nine... and at about the right elevation for clouds too.
So when 15 happy birders get together on a mountainside to celebrate a lifer, why not snap a picture?! Here's our fantastic group:
Once we arrived at the pleasant (and shaded!) Boot Spring, we sat down for a quick lunch break. However, we were rather distracted! We found several more COLIMA WARBLERS and a few that even perched for some photos:
We saw several other species in the area though that call that particular island-in-the-sky home. We had a couple of CORDILLERAN FLYCATCHERS, a PAINTED REDSTART or two, HUTTON'S VIREOS, and even some BLUE-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS:
The Blue-throateds are brutes, too. On average, they are our largest hummingbird species in the US! We also had fleeting glimpses of another species of hummingbird that can be found in the mountains there, the small BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD. However, they didn't stay still for anyone.
Before long though, it was time to descend. Because this part of the hike occurs in the heat of the day, we didn't spend a lot of time sight-seeing. I did pause for this BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER though; it looked surprised that hikers were out in the heat:
In the end, I really enjoyed our time at Big Bend. For example, the rich light from our last evening illuminated the mountains surrounding the Chisos Basin where we stayed:
So coming up next... part 3 where we venture to the Davis Mountains and the Hill Country. Stay tuned!