Texas: Lost Maples
Spring break is all about drinking, partying, and birding, right?
For months a group of friends and I planned a trip to Texas this spring to accomplish at least one of those things. Jen and I flew in a couple of days early to explore the Hill Country area of Texas two hours west of San Antonio that is home to the rare and endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler that only nests in juniper-oak woodlands of Central Texas.
The warbler has good taste. This is the prettiest part of Texas I’ve ever seen.
Boom. Just like that, four lifers. There was also a Yellow-throated Vireo sighting and a drive-by Ringed Kingfisher. Make that six lifers. Birding is so easy. Once the sun dipped below the hills we star-gazed enjoying the clear dark skies, then got up early in the morning to hike Lost Maples Park.
The chalkboard doesn’t lie.
We parked the car, started up the trail, and almost immediately heard the buzzy “ter-wih-zeee-e-e-e, chy” song I’d studied long before the trip. Incredible. It took much longer to get a visual on the warblers, but when we did it was even sweeter.
Yay! The extra time and effort was all worth it. Relaxed and happy, we soaked up other sights along the trail including Yellow-throated Warblers and White-eyed Vireos.
And a Black-chinned Hummingbird that stopped to take a drink from the stream.
Turkey Vultures and Black Vultures soared higher in the sky as the wind picked up and we hiked up the hillside.
Here we’d hoped for an early Black-capped Vireo, but came up with Black-crested Titmouse.
And Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.
Along the trail we were easily distracted by damselflies, butterflies and lizards.
And a Carolina Wren singing like crazy.
The wind picked up further as we hiked back to check the feeders near the trail entrance.
This turned up many birds including:
Three more lifebirds. Bam! What a gorgeous birdy place. I’m already dreaming of a return backpacking trip.
In the heat of the day we took a quick lunch break before heading north to Kerr Wildlife Management Area to try again for Black-capped Vireo. On the drive there we passed a Vesper Sparrow.
A Lark Sparrow.
A mystery snake that slivered quickly across the road.
And we passed a pile of vultures on the side of the road with a Crested Caracara in the mix!
New bird! I was surprised to learn they’re actually quite common in southern Texas. Here’s a picture from a later sighting:
Eventually we made it to Kerr WMA, and dipped again on vireos, but we found plenty more lifebirds for me including Vermilion Flycatchers.
A Field Sparrow.
And a wonderful surprise bird Jen spotted just as we were leaving the park, a Louisiana Waterthrush! Good spot.
We made it back to the cabins without running out of gas and prepared ourselves for an early departure the next morning. 18 new birds in less than two full days? Not a bad start!
Birders gone wild,