Nalle Bunny Run Group Walk 2017-01-21

This morning I led the monthly group walk on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run Nature preserve. One of the things I love about these walks is that often people register for the walk who have never been birding before. Today we had 13 folks attend and at least 4 of them fit this description. It turned out to be a beautiful mild morning with temperatures approaching 70, but initially it was foggy and bird activity was slow until the sun started briefly coming out at about 9:45. Cedar Waxwings and American Robins were probably the most numerous birds on this morning's walk. Here's a small group of waxwings we saw in the drainage going down the center of the preserve.

Cedar Waxwings

The lake's level is under control of the LCRA, and currently it is being kept very low, I think to kill off hydrilla. This gave us the opportunity to climb down the the bank past the cypress trees and get an unobstructed view of the lake and the cliff to the north. Being this low on the bank offered us this view of the Bald Cypress trees along the preserve's northern edge:

Cypress Tree Roots - 2

Soon after we climbed down, we made our most exciting observation of the day. I saw a couple Common Ravens flying high over the cliff, and one of them was playing in the air, turning upside-down and back as it flew. I've only seen this once before. Before I could even point out this behavior, I saw that a smaller bird started chasing the ravens. It was some kind of falcon and initially I thought it was an American Kestrel. But I wasn't seeing any of a kestrel's field marks, and I realized this bird was only slight smaller than the ravens (which are huge). At about the same time I and someone else in the group realized it was a Peregrine Falcon, our largest falcon that winters in small numbers in central Texas. Wow, what a treat it was to see it chase the ravens to the west! I took a few photos and here are the two that came out best. See how in the first photo the raven on top is craning its head around to keep track of the falcon!

Common Raven and Peregrine Falcon - 1

Common Raven and Peregrine Falcon - 2

This was only the second time I've seen a Peregrine Falcon on the preserve. What a lucky group this was today, to get to see one chasing ravens!

After we climbed back up the bank, the rest of the hike was less eventful. By this time bird activity had died down quite a bit. On the western half of the preserve we enjoyed seeing some of the preserve's interesting plants, including Brasil, Lace Cactus, and Blackjack Oak.

Here's our complete bird list for the morning.

Here are a few more photos on Flickr.

And attached are our iNaturalist observations.

Posted by mikaelb mikaelb, January 21, 2017 22:18

Observations

Photos / Sounds

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What

Heavenly Bamboo Nandina domestica

Observer

mikaelb

Date

January 21, 2017 08:32 AM CST

Photos / Sounds

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What

Giant Floater Mussel Pyganodon grandis

Observer

mikaelb

Date

January 21, 2017 10:39 AM CST

Photos / Sounds

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What

Tampico Pearly Mussel Cyrtonaias tampicoensis

Observer

mikaelb

Date

January 21, 2017 10:39 AM CST

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum

Observer

mikaelb

Date

January 21, 2017 10:00 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

Common Raven Corvus corax

Observer

mikaelb

Date

January 2017

Description

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

Photos / Sounds

What

Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

January 21, 2017 10:33 AM CST

Description

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

The water level on Lake Austin has been lowered, so we walked out onto the muddy bank for an unobstructed view of the lake and the cliff to the north. Just over the cliff we saw two Common Ravens, one of them turning upside-down as it flew. Then we were excited to see a smaller bird chasing them that turned out to be a Peregrine Falcon.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Baldcypress Taxodium distichum

Observer

mikaelb

Date

January 21, 2017 10:38 AM CST

Description

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

The lowered lake level offered a different perspective on the cypress trees along the northen edge of the preserve.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Baldcypress Taxodium distichum

Observer

mikaelb

Date

January 21, 2017 10:38 AM CST

Description

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

The lowered lake level offered a different perspective on the cypress trees along the northen edge of the preserve.

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