Bleakley Ranch Camp Out

Last weekend I got to camp out with Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC group on one of HCC's conservation easement properties, the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs.

We camped by the ranch's stock tank which is large enough to be cool and clean enough for swimming in the deeper parts. Everywhere else things were dry. I made two circuits around the stock tank, one Saturday afternoon and one Sunday morning. Odonates were the most obvious animal, with Blue Dashers being maybe the most common dragonfly. The next two most common dragonflies around the edge of the water were Eastern Pondhawks and Common Green Darners. There were also smaller numbers of Black Saddlebags, Red Saddlebags, Checkered Setwings, and I saw a single Twelve-spotted Skimmer. Here's a Blue Dasher which was right next to our huge camp kitchen:

Blue Dasher

The most common damselflies were the tiny Familiar Bluets at the water's edge, many mating. Here are three males that were nicely lined up:

Familiar Bluets - 2

I also found a single Variable Dancer on Sunday. But the damselfly I was most excited to find was the Great Setwing. At two inches long, it's the largest damselfly in north america. I estimated finding half a dozen, always in the (usually dry) small tributaries feeding into the stock tank. It's not a rare species, but it's one I haven't seen very often and I was thrilled to get my best photos yet of one:

Great Spreadwing - 2

Birds were few and far between. By the tank there were almost always a couple Eastern Phoebes to be found. Away from the tank there were small mixed species foraging flocks of Carolina Chickadees, Black-crested Titmice, and newly returned winter resident Orange-crowned Warblers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets. I got lucky and got this close-up shot of one of the Orange-crowned Warblers:

Orange-crowned Warbler

Around the tank there were some water-oriented bird species like Killdeer, a female Belted Kingfisher, and my first-of-season sightings of Wilson's Snipe and American Pipit. Here's the kingfisher about to swallow a sunfish:

Belted Kingfisher with Fish

There were at least two kinds of frogs using the stock tank, Blanchard's Cricket Frogs and leopard frogs. (I never got a good look at one of the leopard frogs, but another camper said they were Southern.) A few interesting plants were Salt Marsh Fleabane and Buttonbush.

There were a few more birds, plants, and insects I observed. See the attached observations and my two eBird lists:

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S25450463
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S25461393

And here are my photos, including all the ones embedded above, the ones with my observations, and a couple landscapes:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikael_behrens/albums/72157659619888819

Many thanks to HCC for taking such good care of us and letting us spend some quality time on the Bleakley Ranch!

Posted by mikaelb mikaelb, October 21, 2015 00:24

Observations

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Blue Dasher Pachydiplax longipennis

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 17, 2015 02:12 PM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Red Saddlebags Tramea onusta

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 17, 2015 02:16 PM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Black Saddlebags Tramea lacerata

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 17, 2015 02:18 PM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Photos / Sounds

What

Great Spreadwing Archilestes grandis

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 17, 2015 02:22 PM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Although common, I have not encountered this species often. This was the first time I found it in good light, so these are the best photos I've gotten of it. At 2 to 2.5 inches long, Great Spreadwing is the largest damselfly in north America.

I found about 5 of these as I made a circuit around the ranch's large stock tank. They were always found in small tributaries to the tank (which were almost all dry).

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Familiar Bluet Enallagma civile

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 17, 2015 02:31 PM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Blue Dasher Pachydiplax longipennis

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 17, 2015 02:33 PM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Photos / Sounds

What

Sunfishes Family Centrarchidae

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 17, 2015 02:34 PM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

I think these cleared areas in the shallow areas of the ranch's large stock tank are fish beds. In the spring and summer, sunfish clear areas like this to hold their eggs, and vigoursly defend them from other fish. This time of year these beds are no longer in use.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Variegated Meadowhawk Sympetrum corruptum

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 17, 2015 02:36 PM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Female.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Checkered Setwing Dythemis fugax

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 17, 2015 02:40 PM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Male.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Checkered Setwing Dythemis fugax

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 17, 2015 02:41 PM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Male.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Killdeer Charadrius vociferus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 17, 2015 02:44 PM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Painted Lady Vanessa cardui

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 17, 2015 02:50 PM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

On Marsh Fleabane (Pluchea odorata).

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Short-horned Grasshoppers Family Acrididae

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 17, 2015 03:02 PM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Blanchard's Cricket Frog Acris blanchardi

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 17, 2015 03:06 PM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Familiar Bluet Enallagma civile

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 17, 2015 03:09 PM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Photos / Sounds

What

Wilson's Snipe Gallinago delicata

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 17, 2015 03:13 PM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

I walked over to where the previously photographed snipe was walking and found its tracks.

Photos / Sounds

What

Buttonbush Cephalanthus occidentalis

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 17, 2015 03:14 PM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Blanchard's Cricket Frog Acris blanchardi

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 17, 2015 03:16 PM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Photos / Sounds

What

Marsh Fleabane Pluchea odorata

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 17, 2015 03:20 PM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

This plant occurred in large patches around the ranch's large stock tank.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 17, 2015 03:33 PM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Rows of holes like this in tree trunks are from Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 17, 2015 03:37 PM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Female.

Photos / Sounds

What

Gum Bumelia Sideroxylon lanuginosum

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 17, 2015 03:48 PM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Northern Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 18, 2015 08:44 AM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

American Kestrel Falco sparverius

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 18, 2015 08:48 AM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Male.

Plants

Photos / Sounds

What

Plants Kingdom Plantae

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 18, 2015 09:01 AM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

This plant was about one to two feet tall and was plentiful on the ranch. Any ID help is appreciated!

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Orange-crowned Warbler Leiothlypis celata

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 18, 2015 09:11 AM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Prairie Flameleaf Sumac Rhus lanceolata

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 18, 2015 09:19 AM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Variegated Meadowhawk Sympetrum corruptum

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 18, 2015 09:41 AM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Female.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Eastern Pondhawk Erythemis simplicicollis

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 18, 2015 09:43 AM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Male.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Variegated Meadowhawk Sympetrum corruptum

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 18, 2015 09:44 AM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Male.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Variable Dancer Argia fumipennis

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 18, 2015 09:46 AM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Buttonbush Cephalanthus occidentalis

Observer

mikaelb

Date

October 18, 2015 09:50 AM CDT

Description

Taken during Hill Country Conservancy's EPIC camp out on the Bleakley Ranch just west of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Comments

Thumb

Those pictures are just magnificent, Mikael. Thanks so much for sharing these all with us on iNat. :)

Posted by sambiology over 4 years ago (Flag)
Thumb

Thanks! It's great to have a place to share them with other naturalists!

Posted by mikaelb over 4 years ago (Flag)

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