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Part 2b:  Davis Mountains Scenic Loop

Headed on the scenic loop after that, with the first stop being the McDonald Observatory.  I was expecting a long windy road to explore kind of like the road up to the Whipple Observatory, but I had barely gotten onto it before boom!  There we were!  Had a curious Chipping Sparrow, but that was about it.

   

Scenes along the Scenic Loop

   

The loop takes you into some higher elevation

Bird-finding guides recommend stops at the picnic areas, as pullouts are few and far between...

McDonald Observatory

Continuing on, I tried to stop as often as I could as we climbed (had a Scrub Jay at one stop), but the book recommended going straight to the Lawrence Wood Picnic Grounds, which had higher elevation habitat.  The Nature Conservancy has bought a bunch of land around there, and they’ve since put in a 2.5 mile trail that I would have loved to have tried in its entirety, but I just didn’t have time.  But the little I did was great; best bird was a thupping Hepatic Tanager, but also picked up a bounding Acorn Woodpecker and Bushtits for the day in here.  I thought I heard a Black-chinned Sparrow singing, but I brushed it off as according to Sibley they aren’t supposed to be here this time of year, but according to the ABA guides, they are supposed to be here!  (Little did I know…)  Walking the whole of the picnic area added Western Wood Pewee and White-breasted Nuthatch.  Somewhere along here we picked up some Western Bluebirds swooping across the road, and heard a Flicker at one stop.  Coming back down into the grasslands was beautiful, with stupendous rock outcroppings at various places, and apparently they had quite the fire at one point.  Where I could manage to find a pullout, we added Say’s Phoebe to the list, and a few meager wildflowers attracted a Variegated Fritillary and one of those white-banded bee flies. 

   

Mournful Duskywings

   

Continuing on...

   

Lawrence Wood Picnic Area, the highest  publically accessible habitat in the Davis Mountains

   

Scenes along the Madera Canyon Trail, which goes into the otherwise-closed Nature Conservancy property.

Creek crossing

   

Juvenile Western Wood Pewee (right pictures shows the bi-colored lower mandible)

Coming back via SR 166

   

   

More scenes...

   

Apparently a pretty good fire blazed through the area recently...

Back to the grasslands...

   

Variegated Fritillary

   

Bee Fly

Reakirt's Blue

Onward...

What you don’t want to run over...

The last recommended stop was another picnic area just before reaching Fort Davis, and this was a beautiful spot with oak trees and rock outcroppings.  A couple of Red Satyrs bounced around, and just before leaving a Scott’s Oriole came dashing in!

Another picnic area

   

Rocky hillsides with distant Scott's Oriole 

   

Red Satyrs liked the shady areas of the picnic grounds.

Headed back to Alpine after that, and got Bippy gassed and iced up in preparation for the next day's adventure!

 Click here to continue to Davis revisited and Big Bend, or here to return to Davis Mountains State Park

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