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Quickie West Texas

Day 4 Kerr WMA

Went on a bit of a Wild Donut Chase the next morning and settled for a chocolate muffin from the Exxon station, then headed out to Kerr, praying I wouldn’t hit a deer on the way!  When I got there I couldn’t believe Bippy’s thermometer:  37 degrees!!  Yikes!  It was predictably dead when I got to the starting point at the end of the Bobcat Meadows road, but it didn’t take long for the usuals to start waking up, including a barking Rufous-crowned Sparrow.  At the other end of the road a Red-shouldered Hawk yelled, and as I started the main drag, an Eastern Phoebe sat in beautiful sunlight, wagging its tail and singing away!  It turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous, crisp day, with the sun shining on the oaks and junipers and other vegetation that the famous Hill Country Duo love during the breeding season, but now the place was occupied by Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Chipping Sparrows, plus a couple of nice additions such as a Brown Thrasher that hopped up, and another Blue Jay that called in the distance.  An odd wail had me stumped until I heard a loud snort, so I assumed the deer I saw (making the snorts) also made the wail—I had never heard that before, but it makes sense, if their bigger cousins the Elk bugle!

Habitat for the endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo, both gone this time of year.

Lesser Goldfinch

White-tailed Deer snorting (with a Black-crested Titmouse scolding in the background)

Clay Taylor had asked me about my bluebirds from South Llano, stating that Eastern should be the expected bluebird there, and by golly, he was right:  the indispensable TOS Handbook showed Western as a remote possibility during invasion years (which everyone seems to be saying that this winter is turning out to be), but having lived in San Diego for almost 30 years with the default bluebird being Western, I felt familiar enough with the call to leave it be.  Well.  Approaching one of the residences along the drive (and unfortunately that always seems to be where the most action is), I thought I heard that “rubber band” sound again, and a flock of five bluebirds bounced into a tree!  But as I stopped and walked toward them, I heard the distinctive dudu call and then the cheer-cheerful-charmer song of the Eastern, so I was beginning to think I was losing my mind…  But as I drove further and took a look at a couple of males that looked a little too ultramarine in their hue, sure enough, at least one had the completely blue head!  So it appears we had both (and thankfully the pictures were conclusive)!  Also at this stop I picked up Vesper and Lark Sparrows, plus a Common Grackle chucking in a tree that I almost tuned out!  A huge herd of Turkeys was grazing at the end of the road, right between what looked to be two bunker-type hunting blinds!

               

Eastern (left two shots) and Western Bluebirds--can you tell them apart?  (The Western is quite east of its normal range here...)

   

More Wild Turkeys near a hunting bunker...

Common Grackle

Had to start heading home after that, missing the road to Pleasanton and ending up in San Antonio (which I wanted to avoid)!!  But then once on 281 I saw where a big rig had evidently caught fire—had I not been detoured I might have ended up in the middle of that!  As it was I stopped at Choke Canyon for an exercise walk, picking up Osprey, Green Jay, and Long-billed Thrasher for the trip, and another rest stop at Falfurrias miraculously added the Painted Redstart, along with some Couch’s Kingbirds.

The two extra stops pushed the trip list over 100, with a grand total of 106 species (plus the two races of Butterbutt)! 

Click here to go back to South Llano River SP.

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