Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Central Texas Southward
Copper Breaks State Park was our first stop in Texas on Oct. 9th - a desert oasis where we found our first Ladder-backed and Golden-fronted Woodpeckers.
A number of large Desert Blonde Tarantulas were crossing the roads early in the morning as we drove south.
We headed to Abilene State Park, another wooded area with more new birds including our first Black-throated Sparrows.
We stopped at a wayside where we found our first Canyon Towhee.
The next two nights we spent at South Llano River state park. This park had four bird feeding stations with water features and viewing blinds. This Western Scrub Jay came to drink and bathe in the fountain.
This Vermilion Flycatcher was one of the many new birds we found including Verdin, Lesser Goldfinch, Spotted Towhee, Black-crested Titmouse, Bewick's Wren, and Lark Sparrow.
This park has one of the largest Rio Grande Turkey roosts in Texas with over 800 turkeys coming for the winter. This roost area is closed each afternoon at 3 pm until 10 the next morning.
This Spiny Lizard was one of our best finds at the Kerr Management Area - managed for the endangered Black-capped Vireo which nests early and migrates south in August.
We stayed at the Guadalupe River RV Park through the torrential rains and flooding that hit both east and southwest of us.
We drove southeast through hugh oil fields to the coast. We spent four days at Goose Island State Park. This White-tailed Deer buck was near our campsite being bothered by as many mosquitos as we were. We switched sites to the gulf coast after one night to the breeze that blew away the bugs.
This American Oystercatcher was one of many birds in this restored wetland. We found Whooping Cranes while scoping across the bay to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.
At Goose Island there were also Clapper Rails, Long-billed Curlews, Marbled Godwits, Roseate Spoonbills and Reddish Egrets plus the usual water birds.
A strong north wind brought in many migrating passerines. It also blew around leaves and seeds such as these caught in the web of this Golden Orb Weaver.
We visited the "Big Tree" a champion Virginia Live Oak and in the area were hundreds of beautiful migrating Scissor-tailed Flycatchers.
We know these birds have been in the blog before but they are so irresistible to photograph.
The ferry took us to Mustang Island at Port Aransas and we checked out the beach at the state park. Here we found this unusual gull, park naturalists and a local bird expert went to check it out. Other than bright orange bill and legs it has the characteristics of the Laughing Gull. We found out that it is a "Mutant" and a one in a million find.
Also on the beach, hidden in the sand dunes were Snowy Plovers. There were also Piping and Black-bellied Plovers, Ruddy Turnstones, and Sanderlings. Many Sandwich, Royal and Forester's Terns fed in the rolling waves.
Early next morning a Lesser Nighthawk swooped into the campground and landed on the picnic table right across from our site. He closed his eyes and went to sleep, ignoring the camera and photographer getting closer and closer.
We took Hwy. 77 south for 80 miles along the huge 825,000 acre King Ranch. We found our first Green Jay at a beautiful wayside. Along the route we saw White-tailed and Harris Hawks and Crested Caracaras (Photos in future blogs hopefully) plus many more Scissor-tailed Flycatchers.
For the next four days we were at South Padre Island at Isla Blanca County Park at the southern end of the island. Things were really hopping here along with these Black-tailed Jackrabbits which were the main wildlife.
Our first Couch's Kingbirds were here with a good number of Tanagers, Orioles, Warblers, Buntings and Sparrows that came in with the cold front and northerly winds. A cold front here means 80's instead of mid 90's.
To our friends up north with frost and snow flakes we send you warm greetings.
Ty & Ida Baumann