Journal archives for September 2018

September 15, 2018

Nalle Bunny Run 2018-09-15

This morning was the monthly group walk on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run. Only three people had registered for the walk and no one showed up! So for the first time in ages I got to tromp around the place by myself. There have been recent rains, including last night, and the preserve was quite wet. Nearby rain on the weather radar caused me to leave my big camera behind, so I only took iPhone photos.

I was happy to find this little Lace Cactus off trail. There's a small patch of them on the westernmost trail that I always point out to visitors, and I'm glad they're growing in more spots!

Lace Cactus (Echinocereus reichenbachii) - 2

Near that patch of other lace cactuses, I found two strange fungi that looked like whitish brains! A naturalist friend told me they're probably puffballs:

Puffballs (Family Lycoperdaceae) - 2

I was hoping to see south-bound migrating birds and there were a few around. The most numerous were over 20 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers throughout the preserve, usually in the tree canopy. Briefly, I spotted a soaring Osprey, the first I've seen this fall. A Belted Kingfisher flew by, also a first-of-fall observation for me. And down on the sandy prairie I found a Baltimore Oriole, a common migrant moving through Austin right now.

A few interesting resident bird observations: Two Common Ravens flew over the gate while I was waiting for attendees. On the lake in front of the rental house I saw a Wood Duck that at first I thought was a juvenile bird. But actually it was a male in non-breeding plumage, something I was not familiar with! The Northern Cardinals I saw were almost exclusively on the sandy prairie. I've noticed before that there seems to be some seasonality to where cardinals occur on the preserve. In the spring and summer they're spread out all over it. In the fall and winter they're almost exclusively on the sandy prairie area. A "micro migration" perhaps?

Water was flowing in the drainage just east of the main driveway, and there were some beautiful little pools, sometimes rimmed with cedar elm leaves:

Flowing Water - 1

Flowing Water - 3

I made a few plant observations (see attached) including one I was especially happy about. Back in May 2013 I found this Southern Catalpa tree in the dense oak-juniper woods just east of the gate. I haven't been in this area for a long time since it's usually not so interesting to visitors, and the trail through it has become overgrown. But today I decided to try and find this tree again and I did! Now it's over 12 feet tall!

Southern Catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides) - 3

See the attached iNaturalist observations.

Here's my complete eBird list.

And here are a few more photos on Flickr.

Posted on September 15, 2018 20:55 by mikaelb mikaelb | 10 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 30, 2018

Tony Amos Beach 2018-09-29

On 9/29/2018 starting at 12:19 PM I drove 7.4 miles in about 2.5 hours on the Port Aransas beach, starting at Access Road 1 and stopping at Access Road 2. This is Tony Amos' old survey route. I only counted birds, photographing a few. Here's my complete eBird list.

Highlights

11 Common Terns, in a mixed group of terns and gulls about 1 mile south of Access Road 1. Here's one of them:

Least Tern

UPDATE: I did see a group of Common Terns, but several birding colleagues have pointed out that this bird is actually a first-year Least Tern.

A little further south in a group of about 20 Red Knots, 4 were banded. I photographed the banded birds, with all but one having codes on the flag bands mostly legible. See attached observations. I counted 67 Red Knots in total.

Red Knot - 4

I found 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, far apart from each other. See attached observations. Here's one of them:

Lesser Black-backed Gull - 2 - 1

About 2 miles south of Access Road 1, a Peregrine Falcon flew by heading south over the beach carrying a bird that it caught that looked like it might've been an American Coot. Much further down, maybe 6 miles from Access Road 1, I saw a Peregrine flying out over the surf chasing terns or gulls. I got a few distant photos.

Peregrine Falcon - 1 - 1

I counted 27 Piping Plovers and photographed 7 banded ones. See attached observations.

Piping Plover - 8

I counted 351 Sanderlings, including this small group of resting birds. There was also a group of about 100 birds resting, which I narrowly avoided scaring into flight. Before I noticed them I got too close and caused about half of them to walk away from the group closer to the water. Here's the smaller group of sleeping birds:

Sleeping Sanderlings

Snowy Plovers were few and far between. I counted only 5, including these two using seaweed as a wind-break:

Snowy Plover - 3

And here are the same photos on Flickr.

Posted on September 30, 2018 16:43 by mikaelb mikaelb | 24 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment