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Day 5:  Bastrop/Buescher State Park to Sayersville Road

A family out for an early morning stroll along the state park road

             Returned the next morning to do the “BBS Protocol”; a big flock of siskins was at the golf course headquarters, along with three titmice:  two looked like good Tufteds, but the third was definitely a “mutt” as he had a slaty crown all the way down to his nose!  I kept leapfrogging with a family taking a walk along the road, but thankfully lost them when I stopped to hike the Post Oak Trail.  While I can’t remember much about that one (except that it was easy), the next trail was definitely a workout, as it went downhill before becoming easy!  Here there were singing Bluebirds all over, which was really neat; they seemed to really like the burned area.  I needed another attitude adjustment when yet another Pine Warbler landed on a rock right in front of me in perfect light, and even at that close range the auto-focus zeroed in on the ground behind it!  After chastising myself over getting so frustrated, the Lord suggested I keep it on manual, and if you have time use the auto-focus, as it’s apparently so unreliable.  Even though I had more Pine Warblers along the road, none of them came in close after that, so it was just a lesson learned in letting things go.

 

Post Oak Trail

Bluebirds really loved the burned areas--this bird was singing from the top of a burned up pine!

       

Pine Warblers - males left and center, first-year female right 

Alum Creek along the scenic road that connects the two parks

Looking the other direction

I was thankful the road was open; I noticed on their website when doing research that they were gonna close the Scenic Drive on certain dates, and I assumed it was to cut down trees, but when I asked the ranger about it, she said that some folks were actually planting seedlings!  The powers that be were indeed cutting down trees, however, as one of the burned out hilltops had been cleared of dead trees and had a group of both Savannah and Vesper Sparrows pop up, which was fun.  Many other trees had white rings painted on them, which I assume meant they were doomed to destruction (and as I saw the cut logs piled up I wondered if it could actually be used for anything besides firewood).  In light of that guy’s report, I was really disappointed in the lack of woodpeckers (totally dipped on the Hairy this time), but it was still an interesting route, especially getting into Buescher where the fire didn’t hit and the habitat was still intact.  A quick look at their little lake added a couple of Scaup to the day list, and a real surprise at one stop was a Greater Yellowlegs calling overhead!  At one stop had what I finally caved and called Golden-crowned Kinglets:  the wavering, three-noted dee-dee-dee coupled with the fact that they would not come out to pishing convinced me they weren’t chickadees…  Back in Bastrop, had a chat with a fisherman at their lake, who also turned out to be a birder, and was bummed because his annual pilgrimage to the Valley was ruined by the weather!  The day before I had scouted down the dead-end roads where their lakeside cabins were, and they actually looked pretty nice (from the outside anyway)! 

A little pishing brings the sparrows out of hiding!

Savannah Sparrow

   

Vesper Sparrow

First-year Yellow-rumped Warbler

Getting into the undamaged area at Buescher State Park

The Hardy Lep of the day was this Snout!

Buescher Hiking Trail

I never got a visual on this titmouse, but the song pattern suggests Tufted

Pastoral scene at the overlook

Female Cardinal

Cardinals have a wide variety of songs, but this was a pattern I had never heard before!

A Carolina Chickadee sings a different song than the birds at Hornsby Bend

"Myrtle" Warblers have a husky call note

Lake at Buescher SP (evidently actually called "Park Lake")

Bird Grasshopper (I think--it was pretty big...)

Bastrop also had its own little lake (wouldn't you like to spend a week in one of those cabins??)

After wrapping up the state parks, I headed north on highway 95 to try and find Old Sayers Road; I had pieced together a Google map showing the road, but trying to get over to it proved a challenge (forget finding “Maple Street”)!  I was almost to Elgin before I saw a street sign that said “Sayers Road”, so I took that and followed it until I came to what looked like private property at a cattle guard.  So I turned around and was zipping back when I suddenly noticed (on the back of a stop sign no less) the street sign for “Old Sayers Road”!  So I followed that, but was a little puzzled that I was heading north!  That finally dumped out on 95 again but at Elgin, but I figured there had to be a south entrance to that road somewhere!  So, determined more than ever to figure this thing out, I headed south, and found Phelan Lane which connected with Sayers road just a little north of Bastrop.  Shortly after crossing the railroad tracks, I knew I was on the right road as it soon hugged the Colorado River and a beautiful woodland where the reported White-breasted Nuthatch undoubtedly was (didn’t have time to stop, though)!  But after that was the big cattle ranch, and what a gorgeous place that was—it reminded me so much of the oak savannah back roads of San Diego County!  I almost expected a Prairie Falcon or Ferruginous Hawk to show up any minute!  That didn’t happen, of course, and I indeed eventually passed that cattle guard that implied you were trespassing, but obviously the intent was to keep through traffic on the main road!  Once I arrived at that previous intersection I headed on to the highway and back to Bastrop for the night. 

Scouting the back roads near Sayersville in preparation for the real birding tomorrow...

More scenes

   

Red-shouldered Hawk along the road

Lonely oak

Western Meadowlark

Click here to continue to Sayersville Road revisited; here to return to Hornsby Bend

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