Nalle Bunny Run 2019-11-16

Six people joined me on a cold Saturday morning, November 16, for the monthly group walk on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run wildlife preserve. Despite clear conditions in other parts of Austin, the fog was thick early on the preserve. It thinned and finally became sunny during our walk from 9:00 AM until about 11:30. We observed 23 species of birds and here are some highlights.

In the cemetery as we listened to subtle calls of a few different songbirds, a strange honking started from across the fence. It turned out to be 5 Egyptian Geese that flew right over us. This exotic species seems to have established itself around Lake Austin, probably from escaped pets.

Down the hill on the sandy prairie habitat area we were lucky to get to watch a bunch of native sparrows foraging on the ground. Since sparrows specialize in looking for food on the ground, their plumage is cryptic and they are very wary of possible threats. Usually birders see sparrows when the birds are flushed off the ground and fly up to a nearby bush for safety. But these birds didn't seem to mind our presence, and we got to watch about 15 Chipping Sparrows and 5 Field Sparrows hop around looking for seeds in the low plants in the sand. Here's one of the Chipping Sparrows. See the dark line through the eye:

Chipping Sparrow - 3

And here's one of the Field Sparrows. See its pink bill and white eye-ring::

Field Sparrow

As we watched them, a Sharp-shinned Hawk flew in and tried to catch one. We got to see how the sparrows reacted, flying into dense bushes nearby for safety. The hawk moved on and gradually we got to see the sparrows come back and resume their baseline foraging behavior.

Also over the sandy prairie we got to see a beautify Red-tailed hawk fly in and perch on a cypress tree. And a group of Double-crested Cormorants flew by in the distance, migrating south.

On our way back through the west half of the preserve we got to see a nice mix of songbirds including Yellow-rumped Warbler, Carolina Chickadee, Downy Woodpecker, and Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Here's our complete bird list on eBird.

And here are a few more photos on Flickr. Most of these photos are included as iNaturalist observations below.

Posted by mikaelb mikaelb, November 22, 2019 23:32

Observations

Photos / Sounds

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What

Nine-banded Armadillo Dasypus novemcinctus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

November 16, 2019 09:54 AM CST

Description

Taken during the monthly group walk on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run wildlife preserve.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina

Observer

mikaelb

Date

November 16, 2019 10:03 AM CST

Description

Taken during the monthly group walk on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run wildlife preserve.

On the sandy prarie section we got to watch a group of about 20 mostly Chipping Sparrows with a few Field Sparrows mixed in foraging on and near the ground. An exciting moment was when a Sharp-shinned Hawk flew in and chased a couple of them. We got to see the reaction of the flock to this predator, as they initially left and gradually came back.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina

Observer

mikaelb

Date

November 16, 2019 10:13 AM CST

Description

Taken during the monthly group walk on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run wildlife preserve.

On the sandy prarie section we got to watch a group of about 20 mostly Chipping Sparrows with a few Field Sparrows mixed in foraging on and near the ground. An exciting moment was when a Sharp-shinned Hawk flew in and chased a couple of them. We got to see the reaction of the flock to this predator, as they initially left and gradually came back.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina

Observer

mikaelb

Date

November 16, 2019 10:17 AM CST

Description

Taken during the monthly group walk on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run wildlife preserve.

On the sandy prarie section we got to watch a group of about 20 mostly Chipping Sparrows with a few Field Sparrows mixed in foraging on and near the ground. An exciting moment was when a Sharp-shinned Hawk flew in and chased a couple of them. We got to see the reaction of the flock to this predator, as they initially left and gradually came back.

Most of the time when we see sparrows it's after we have flushed them and they've flown up to a safer perch to watch us. It was a real treat today to watch these sparrows foraging and not concerned with our nearby presence.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

November 16, 2019 10:21 AM CST

Description

Taken during the monthly group walk on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run wildlife preserve.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Field Sparrow Spizella pusilla

Observer

mikaelb

Date

November 16, 2019 10:18 AM CST

Description

Taken during the monthly group walk on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run wildlife preserve.

On the sandy prarie section we got to watch a group of about 20 mostly Chipping Sparrows with a few Field Sparrows mixed in foraging on and near the ground. An exciting moment was when a Sharp-shinned Hawk flew in and chased a couple of them. We got to see the reaction of the flock to this predator, as they initially left and gradually came back.

Photos / Sounds

What

Green June Beetles Genus Cotinis

Observer

mikaelb

Date

November 16, 2019 09:26 AM CST

Description

Taken during the monthly group walk on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run wildlife preserve.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

White-tailed Deer Odocoileus virginianus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

November 16, 2019 08:47 AM CST

Description

Taken during the monthly group walk on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run wildlife preserve.

This doe White-tailed Deer snorted at me multiple times before finally raising its tail and bounding off, still snorting.

Comments

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Saving this post to remind me of the difference in chipping and field sparrows. Someday I am going to master the ID of those little brown birds!

Posted by connlindajo 10 months ago (Flag)
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In general when identifying sparrows, first see is the breast streaky or clear. Then look at their faces. :)

Posted by mikaelb 10 months ago (Flag)

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