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Texas Hill Country & Storm-Chasing

Part 7:  Little Deutschland Loop

And the next day was a much nicer day!  Did the Little Deutschland Loop as described in the Heart of Texas Wildlife Trail West, and it was surprisingly productive!  I say "surprisingly" because most of the spots were within the city of Kerrville, and I usually don't bird city parks, but found some nice things (once I found the places: went back and forth along state 173 several times trying to find Kerrville State Park in the dark, only to find out it didn't open till eight anyway)!  The first stop on the list was Cypress Creek and Knapp Crossing Parks, and while I didn't walk around the grassy areas, I was able to view the Guadeloupe River and picked up Osprey and Yellow-crowned Night Heron for the trip, as well as a Beaver swimming by!  A sharp call in the low vegetation made me think I had a Mourning Warbler or some such beast, but the culprit turned out to be a Lincoln's Sparrow...  Interestingly also had the day's only Butterbutt here!


Early morning at Cypress Creek Park, along the Guadeloupe River with a swim-by Beaver


Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Cardinal

Next was Riverside Nature Center, which was a terrific little place with a butterfly garden (which I revisited later in the day)!  Upon getting out of the car added another trip bird: a Blue Jay!  I wandered around their trails, picking up a Painted Bunting on one of their feeders, and found one trail going down to the river, which was just awesome with the tall cypress trees!  The "southern jungle birds" (Carolina Wren and Chickadee, Black-crested Titmouse, White-eyed Vireo, Summer Tanager, and Cardinal) were all at home here!

Riverside Nature Center


Scenes along the River Trail

Headed to Louise Hays Park after that, which was very productive: they have a trail at the east (?) end that takes you through some riparian vegetation then out onto a cement "sidewalk" that crosses the river.  It's quite shallow at this point; several Spotted Sandpipers and a couple of Killdeer were hanging out here.  Once across the river you can walk another forested river trail to the bridge, where both Cliff and Rough-winged Swallows were nesting.  Butterflies were starting to move about that time as well: had nice looks at Dainty Sulphurs, a Sleepy Orange, and a Monarch.  As I came out the trail I was curious to see a police car patrolling the area and giving me the looking over (I waved at them of course), and then later a beat-up looking van went poking down to the same area (and had it been parked there earlier I probably wouldn’t have hiked the trail); it all got me to wondering whether that was a regular "bad guy hangout"! At the other end of the park is Tranquility Island, where there were some domestic ducks, but that was about it...(very pretty, though).


View from the "Causeway Trail" at Louise Hays Park, and trail on the other side of the river


L-R:  Dainty Sulphur, Monarch, and Sleepy Orange


Tranquility Island

By that time the state park was open, so I headed over there only to find out it's not a state park anymore, so I shelled out the three bucks and was told to check out their Butterfly Theater, which I did first thing, and picked up my trip Bordered Patch actually outside the enclosure!  It wasn't terribly active but there were lots of Variegated Fritillaries (that actually let me shoot them this time), Gray Hairstreaks, Pipevine Swallowtails, and a worn Funereal Duskywing.  Outside in the picnic area, the grassy fields were just full of wildflowers, so I of course checked those out; more of the same, but managed to kick up a Sachem (which was confirmed by another Tex Lepper).  While I was stalking an Orange Sulphur the poor thing was suddenly bullied away by a Dainty Sulphur (and the picture was perfect)!  A Scissor-tailed Flycatcher put on a great show, and crawling around the campground saw several cute Mexican Ground Squirrels and a Red-shouldered Hawk powering by with lunch for the kids (looked like it might have been one of the squirrels...).  Another field full of flowers yielded a Southern Dogface as well as tons more Pipevines.


Scenes at Kerrville-Schreiner Ex-State Park.  The flower show is glorious and attracts lots of butters!


L-R:  Bordered Patch, Variegated Fritillary, and Southern Dogface


Gray Hairstreaks and Funereal Duskywing


Owlet Moth sp., and a Sachem, showing a little more of his wings at right


This Orange Sulphur was minding his own business when a Dainty Sulphur (right) came and drove him off!


Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and Mexican Ground Squirrel

Across the street was another campground and several trails, so I hiked three of the easy ones.  The habitat is quite different, and looked like great Goldencheek habitat with all the cedars, but nary a one sang; had lots of Bewick's Wrens and titmice instead.  On one of the trails a Hermit Thrush was actually singing, and picked up another trip bird: Scrub Jay!


The "Red Trail" across the street had Reakirt's Blue, Fiery Skipper, and White-tailed Deer

I was shot after that, but made a quick swing around Kerr County Park, another Guadeloupe River access point, picking up Cedar Waxwings and a Pied-billed Grebe for the day.  There were several dead trees in the river that looked great for kingfishers (theoretically all three can occur here), but nada.  Made the aforementioned quick stop at the Nature Center again, but didn't kick up anything new; several hummers chattered, but around here they could be either Rubythroats or Blackchins.... Made a requisite visit to the gift shop and picked up a stuffed Painted Bunting...


Kerr County Park and a return visit to the Nature Center


Gray Hairstreaks

Headed up to Fredericksburg for the night and had a wonderful ribeye steak at the Bavarian Inn restaurant! 

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