Nalle Bunny Run 2019-01-26

I was fortunate to spend a beautiful morning on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run wildlife preserve this morning. Temperatures were in the low to mid fifties with a very light noth wind blowing. When I started out a single dark cloud was directly overhead but the sun was shining below it, and a short distance down the driveway I was able to get maybe my best photo of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker ever:

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker female

In years past, Eastern Bluebird was a hard bird to find on the Bunny Run. But I've been seeing them more often here for the past year, and this morning I was excited to see this pair inspecting one of the many nest boxes on the preserve (between the white house and the lake):

Eastern Bluebirds on Nest Box - 1

Maybe they're here to stay!

I found the best bird of the day below the huge cottonwood trees on the east fence line. The dense vines and brush looked like a good place to do some "pishing" and when I did, I immediately heard a Spotted Towhee call in response. But the next bird I saw was a female Eastern Towhee. These two species used to be considered one species, the Rufous-sided Towhee. But years ago they were split into the western Spotted Towhee and the, well, eastern Eastern Towhee. Spotted Towhee is an expected winter resident in central Texas, but Eastern Towhee is rare here. (Although this winter a few have been found around Austin.) I wasn't able to photograph the male Spotted Towhee but I got a few shots of the female Eastern Towhee. Here's one of them:

Eastern Towhee - 1

I cropped the photo wide to show the preferred dense cover both of these species prefer.

It's fun to anthropomorphize about these two birds that seemed to be together. Was this a chance encounter? Is this eastern gal spending the winter with this western guy? Will they split up and head their distant eastern and western breeding grounds come spring?

I had pretty good luck finding mammal tracks this morning. There were a few muddy patches around, and some spots in the sandy prairie area were moist enough for the loose sand to hold tracks a little better. I found many White-tailed Deer tracks, a few Gray Fox, Coyote, and Common Raccoon tracks, and these small five-toed tracks which I'm pretty sure are from a Striped Skunk:

Squirrel Tracks - 3

UPDATE: Kim Cabrera (@beartracker) corrected me on the above track identification. (See the attached observation.) They are hind tracks from a squirrel, and since both fox squirrels and rock squirrels could be at this spot, I don't 'think we can know which these tracks are from. Thanks Kim!

Since we found that scat that looks so much like it's from a bobcat last weekend, I was hoping to find more evidence of bobcat today, which I've never seen signs of before here. But alas, none of the tracks I could find were feline. And I didn't find any similar scat.

All in all it was a fun morning. I visited some corners of the preserve I haven't seen in a long time, the weather was great, and I found a rare bird! I found 36 species of birds total, in almost 3 hours covering about 1.7 miles.

Here's my complete eBird list.

Here are a few more photos on Flickr.

And attached are some observations.

Posted by mikaelb mikaelb, January 26, 2019 23:09

Observations

Photos / Sounds

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What

Wood Duck Aix sponsa

Observer

mikaelb

Date

January 26, 2019 10:31 AM CST

Description

Taken on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run wildlife preserve.

Photos / Sounds

What

Eastern Towhee Pipilo erythrophthalmus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

January 26, 2019 10:17 AM CST

Description

Taken on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run wildlife preserve.

This female Eastern Towhee and a male Spotted Towhee were both in the tangle of vines and bushes at the base of the large cottonwood trees on the northeast fenceline of the preserve. I wonder if they were together by chance, or if they were purposefully staying together.

Photos / Sounds

What

Tree Squirrels Genus Sciurus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

January 26, 2019 10:13 AM CST

Description

Taken on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run wildlife preserve.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Mute Swan Cygnus olor

Observer

mikaelb

Date

January 26, 2019 09:55 AM CST

Description

Taken on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run wildlife preserve.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Gray Fox Urocyon cinereoargenteus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

January 26, 2019 09:54 AM CST

Description

Taken on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run wildlife preserve.

Photos / Sounds

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What

American Kestrel Falco sparverius

Observer

mikaelb

Date

January 26, 2019 09:51 AM CST

Description

Taken on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run wildlife preserve.

Photos / Sounds

What

Eastern Bluebird Sialia sialis

Observer

mikaelb

Date

January 26, 2019 09:39 AM CST

Description

Taken on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run wildlife preserve.

I was excited to see this pair of male and female Eastern Bluebirds using one of the many nest boxes on the preserve. It seems like this species is easier to see on the preserve now than in previous years.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Anacua Tree Ehretia anacua

Observer

mikaelb

Date

January 26, 2019 09:31 AM CST

Description

Taken on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run wildlife preserve.

Photos / Sounds

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What

House Wren Troglodytes aedon

Observer

mikaelb

Date

January 26, 2019 09:07 AM CST

Description

Taken on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run wildlife preserve.

Photos / Sounds

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What

White-tailed Deer Odocoileus virginianus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

January 26, 2019 09:01 AM CST

Description

Taken on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run wildlife preserve.

Photos / Sounds

What

White-tailed Deer Odocoileus virginianus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

January 26, 2019 08:45 AM CST

Description

Taken on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run wildlife preserve.

Other bones were scattered around the area.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius

Observer

mikaelb

Date

January 26, 2019 08:25 AM CST

Description

Taken on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run wildlife preserve.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Bewick's Wren Thryomanes bewickii

Observer

mikaelb

Date

January 26, 2019 08:20 AM CST

Description

Taken on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run wildlife preserve.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Gray Fox Urocyon cinereoargenteus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

January 26, 2019 08:15 AM CST

Description

Taken on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run wildlife preserve.

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