Journal archives for September 2019

02 September, 2019

Davis Mountains State Park Primitive Area 2019-08-21

While staying in Fort Davis out in west Texas for the Davis Mountains Hummingbird Celebration, I spent one afternoon looking for odonates along Limpia Creek in the primitive area of Davis Mountains State Park. (Anyone can visit this primitive area, you just have to ask for the gate code at the park headquarters and let them know when you enter and exit it.) My target species was Painted Damsel simply because they're so beautiful. Despite them being described as common out here, I had not yet found one the last two summers I visited the Davis Mountains area.

Limpia Creek is usually dry but last summer I learned about a spring in the creek bed, and this was what I wanted to find again. From the primitive area's gate I found the dry creek bed and followed it downstream (east). It was about a mile before I finally encountered an isolated pool of water, and it was hopping with odonates! Most interesting to me were at least two male Plateau Dragonlets, a species I've only seen once before.

Plateau Dragonlet - 2

Despite a careful search, I did not see any Painted Damsels, so after about 30 minutes I continued downstream.

In another half mile or so I found a muddy area in the creek bed, and as I followed it further downstream a modest flow of water emerged from the mud. I had found the spring! Damselflies and mosquitos were suddenly common, and I was so engaged with he former I didn't mind the latter (too much). A little further downstream the spring's flow had created more substantial accumulations of water and at the edge of one was a patch of tall grass. I thought to myself, "Wouldn't it be great if I scanned that grass with my binoculars and found a Painted Damsel?" So I started to scan and a few moments later there it was, a single male Painted Damsel! I took a few initial photos from where I stood, then I crept up to it and took many photos from close range. Here's one of them:

Painted Damsel - 1 - 4

After a few minutes I photographed a nearby Desert Firetail, then tried to find the Painted Damsel again but I could not. This was the only individual I found.

There were some other fun western species, a few of which I did not know I'd seen until I got identification help here from folks like @greglasley. (Thanks, Greg!) In addition to Plateau Dragonlet and Desert Firetail, these included Arroyo Bluet, Mexican Forktail, and Flame Skimmer. Notably absent was Filagree Skimmer.

A lifer butterfly I found was this beautiful skipper, a Golden-headed Scallopwing. The amazing iNaturalist Seek app identified it for me when I pointed the app at my photo on my laptop screen.

Golden-headed Scallopwing - 1 - 1

See my attached observations for photos of the other species mentioned plus a few more.

Posted on 02 September, 2019 20:00 by mikaelb mikaelb | 24 observations | 1 comment | Leave a comment

14 September, 2019

Banded Plovers on Tony Amos Beach 2019-09-13

I birded the Tony Amos beach in Port Aransas yesterday, starting at Access Road 1 and very slowly driving the 7.5 miles to Access Road 2, counting all birds seen. This journal entry is to collect the observations of banded plovers I found. I was able to photograph all the banded birds I saw. There were 6 banded Piping Plovers and 1 banded Snowy Plover. Here's one of the Piping Plovers:

Piping Plover - 3 - 1

Piping Plover and Snowy Plover numbers might have been the highest I've ever recorded on this beach: 84 Piping Plovers and 25 Snowy Plovers. Here's my complete eBird list:

Does anyone know the best and easiest way to report these birds? Or are they worth reporting? This beach might already be surveyed regularly.

UPDATE 2019-09-24: I have heard back from three different entities I reported these birds to, and added their comments to the descriptions of each observation below.

Posted on 14 September, 2019 21:03 by mikaelb mikaelb | 7 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

21 September, 2019

Nalle Bunny Run 2019-09-21

Five folks joined me this morning for the monthly group walk on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run wildlife preserve. We enjoyed a warm cloudy morning and here are some highlights. Birds were present but much easier heard than seen. Before we even started walking we heard Upland Sandpiper flight calls, evidence of at least one of these birds (and probably more) high overhead flying south. (You can hear their subtle flight call here.) These amazing birds were on their way from the northern states and Canada where they breed to their winter range in middle and southern South America.

As I was showing everyone a map of the preserve two hawks flew over us so I dropped the map to watch them. A juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk was chasing a juvenile Cooper's Hawk back and forth. Both species are year-round residents (although there are more Cooper's Hawks here in the winter.) Different species of hawks recognize each other as competitors and often try to chase each other away. Then a few Chimney Swifts flew over (also on their way south) and we still hadn't even started walking!

As we made a circuit of the preserve, we heard more birds than we saw, including many Northern Cardinals and Carolina Wrens, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Black-crested Titmice, Carolina Chickadees, occasional White-eyed Vireos, and even a few Eastern Bluebirds. Near the northeast corner of the preserve in the sandy prairie area a group of 5 Egyptian Geese flew over us. This escaped exotic species has established itself along the lake in small numbers.

The only bird I managed to photograph was this male Carolina Wren that was singing on top of a post next to the cowbird trap:

Carolina Wren

Here's our complete bird list on eBird.

And below are just two attached observations.

Posted on 21 September, 2019 23:09 by mikaelb mikaelb | 2 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment