Shield Ranch 2017-05-13

On May 13 and 14 I was fortunate to be able to join Hill Country Conservancy on their annual EPIC campout. This year it was at the Shield Ranch just southwest of Austin.

There was one remarkable wildlife observation I wanted to record here. On the afternoon of the 13th I was sitting with other campers under the trees by one of the El Ranchito camp sites when I heard a Common Nighthawk vocalize. I looked up and started seeing several Common Nighthawks flying roughly southwest over the trees. I thought there were at least 20, and another birder in the group jumped up and ran out from under the trees to estimate 37. Less than a minute later the same birds flew back over, northeast, seemingly back to where they came from. I only heard a single vocalization.

What happened? I've never seen this many Common Nighthawks in one group. My guess is that this was a group migrating north together. This species is mostly nocturnal and usually migrates at night, so they were all probably roosting somewhere nearby when something disturbed them. They all flew up, circled around, and returned to their roosting site or somewhere close by. That's the best I can come up with!

Some of the other common birds I saw or heard were Painted Buntings, Northern Cardinals, Dickcissels, Wild Turkey, Northern Bobwhite, Rufous-crowned Sparrows, Field Sparrows, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Golden-cheeked Warblers. Here's an eBird list from the morning of the 14th:
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S37015203

See the attached observations. Here are mostly the same photos on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikael_behrens/albums/72157683812692136

American Rubyspot

Posted by mikaelb mikaelb, June 14, 2017 00:13

Observations

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Dickcissel Spiza americana

Observer

mikaelb

Date

May 14, 2017 08:48 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the 2017 Hill Country Conservancy EPIC campout on Shield Ranch.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay Aphelocoma woodhouseii

Observer

mikaelb

Date

May 14, 2017 09:10 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the 2017 Hill Country Conservancy EPIC campout on Shield Ranch.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Texas Milkweed Beetle Tetraopes texanus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

May 14, 2017 08:21 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the 2017 Hill Country Conservancy EPIC campout on Shield Ranch.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

House Finch Haemorhous mexicanus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

May 14, 2017 09:16 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the 2017 Hill Country Conservancy EPIC campout on Shield Ranch.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Prairie Rabdotus Rabdotus mooreanus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

May 14, 2017 08:19 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the 2017 Hill Country Conservancy EPIC campout on Shield Ranch.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Orchard Oriole Icterus spurius

Observer

mikaelb

Date

May 14, 2017 08:00 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the 2017 Hill Country Conservancy EPIC campout on Shield Ranch.

Photos / Sounds

What

Dickcissel Spiza americana

Observer

mikaelb

Date

May 14, 2017 07:55 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the 2017 Hill Country Conservancy EPIC campout on Shield Ranch.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis

Observer

mikaelb

Date

May 14, 2017 07:50 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the 2017 Hill Country Conservancy EPIC campout on Shield Ranch.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Rufous-crowned Sparrow Aimophila ruficeps

Observer

mikaelb

Date

May 14, 2017 07:41 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the 2017 Hill Country Conservancy EPIC campout on Shield Ranch.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Black-crested Titmouse Baeolophus atricristatus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

May 14, 2017 07:28 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the 2017 Hill Country Conservancy EPIC campout on Shield Ranch.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Painted Bunting Passerina ciris

Observer

mikaelb

Date

May 14, 2017 07:28 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the 2017 Hill Country Conservancy EPIC campout on Shield Ranch.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Sleepy Orange Abaeis nicippe

Observer

mikaelb

Date

May 13, 2017 02:12 PM CDT

Description

Taken during the 2017 Hill Country Conservancy EPIC campout on Shield Ranch.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Dusky Dancer Argia translata

Observer

mikaelb

Date

May 13, 2017 02:05 PM CDT

Description

Taken during the 2017 Hill Country Conservancy EPIC campout on Shield Ranch.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

American Rubyspot Hetaerina americana

Observer

mikaelb

Date

May 13, 2017 01:54 PM CDT

Description

Taken during the 2017 Hill Country Conservancy EPIC campout on Shield Ranch.

Photos / Sounds

What

Wild Blue Larkspur Delphinium carolinianum

Observer

mikaelb

Date

May 14, 2017 08:13 AM CDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Wild Turkey Meleagris gallopavo

Observer

mikaelb

Date

May 14, 2017 09:07 AM CDT

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