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Spring Blitz

Part 11:  Huntsville SP  (15-16 APR)

And what a beautiful park (and drive to get there)!  I love the big trees; it’s amazing how things change in only 100 miles!  Now we’re in a whole new habitat, with Tufted Titmice, Brown-headed Nuthatches, Downy Woodpeckers, and Hooded Warblers added to the list right away!  That longing to get a camper and just live at the state parks for the rest of my life came back to haunt me J; didn’t have time to check the water, but an Eastern Kingbird was perched on one of the reedy things near the shore.  After scouting the roads, I went back and hiked a couple of trails:  the Loblolly Trail was a nice easy nature trail with a bench halfway through, so that made it handy to watch the White-eyed Vireos fighting!  I took a little of the Coloneh Trail, where there were several downed logs at the ten-minute mark that made for a handy bench!  I heard some cah-haing that I thought might have been Fish Crows, but as I listened, the calls became more passionate, and then it was obvious they were juvenile American Crows that were begging (and a quick perusal of the TOS Handbook show that Fish Crows don’t occur here anyway; boy, that book is a must have, I tell you)!  Both Carolina and Viola’s Wood Satyrs were bouncing along the trail, along with what I’m assuming is a Northern Cloudywing at this point.

Summer Tanager along the Coloneh Trail that was mad at me...  

   

Viola's Wood (left) and Carolina Satyrs - can you tell them apart?  (The white "striping" on the wings of the Viola's are an artifact of the afternoon sun shining straight down on the wrinkles in its wings...)

Northern Cloudywing

Called it a day after that and barely found the Best Western (it’s really tucked away, and not even advertised on the freeway); I was bummed that they didn't serve breakfast until 6:30, because it sounded pretty good! 

Well, I’m now in the middle of a Severe Thunderstorm Warning, and a Tornado Warning was issued for Bay City!  So I’ve got the Weather Channel on while trying to write this…

Got to the park well before dawn; no night birds, but lots of Cardinals, Titmice, and Carolina Wrens as per usual.  Things were trilling that could have been either Pine Warblers or Chipping Sparrows (I can’t tell them apart unless they give me a call note…), but thankfully I saw both!  It started dripping almost immediately after dawn, so I just sat in the car to start with each stop, but thankfully it let up after awhile.  Driving into the camping areas I was thrilled to catch an Acadian Flycatchers singing on the fly, and a squeaky sound turned out to be a Siskin and not a Brown-headed Nuthatch. However, at one spot had a couple of White-breasted Nuthatches, which was fun!  They’re so cute! J

White-breasted Nuthatch

There are several places you can get a look at Lake Raven, and there was good reedy and lily pad habitat around the edges where I picked up several new herons (including a Yellow-crowned Night), but the best birds were a pair of Wood Ducks fairly close – they are so gorgeous!  A couple pairs of Eastern Kingbirds were making a big fuss, and chickadees were very responsive to pishing.  The place was Woodpecker Heaven – besides Red-bellied, added Hairy, Downy, Pileated, and Red-headed to the list (ironically the Pileated was the only one I saw, and he happened to swoop by while I was resting on a bench on the Chinquapin Trail).

Lake Raven during a break in the rain...

   

Wood Ducks

Swimming Beach

Views from the fishing pier (or one of them)

Little Blue Heron across the lake

Alligator (also across the lake)

           

Both Black and Turkey Vultures try and dry out after the rain (the Black is the one at the top with white wing patches)

Carolina Wren (with a Cardinal and tittering Eastern Kingbird in the background)

Downy Woodpecker

Got to hike a few trails, and the guys who planned where to put the benches are after my own heart – a ten minute hike and there it was! J  On the Prairie Branch Loop Trail they were getting ready for some kind of a 10K run for Saturday (these severe storms are continuing into the weekend, though L), so I chatted with the guy who was putting up the markers (this was the trail I heard the Red-headed Woodpeckers on).  This is truly a gorgeous park with the big trees – the smell is wonderful!  On the way out heard a Broad-winged Hawk calling while chomping on a chicken leg for lunch…

Driving through the big trees...

Prairie Branch Loop Trail

Hooded Warbler deep in the woods

Summer Tanager song (listen for the harsh call of a Red-headed Woodpecker in the background)

 

Green Treefrogs

 

Cardinal sings an interesting song (with a Summer Tanager in the background)

   

You get another crack at trying to tell Carolina (left) from Viola's Wood Satyr!  

One of the campgrounds (wouldn't you like to live here??? ☺)

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