Sunday, March 29, 2015

Balcones Canyonland NWR - March 2015

This weekend, we made our first venture back out to the Balcones Canyonland NWR to look for the returning Golden-Cheeked Warblers which were reported back in the area in the past week or so. This endangered species only nests in Central Texas where it can find steep canyons containing a mix of old-growth Ashe Juniper (cedar) and oak trees. It spends its winters in Nicaragua.

We spent a couple of hours on both Saturday and Sunday mornings along the Cactus Rock Trail at the Warbler Vista portion of the reserve, a perfect example of the warbler's habitat. We heard both Golden-Cheeked Warblers and Black and White Warblers staking their territory along the trail. We were not able to visually find all of the warblers we heard. Along this trail section, the warblers were primarily foraging high in the oak trees.

We heard the Golden-Cheeked Warbler on both days at trail markers 1, 3, 5, and 8. Mostly, we heard the song pattern bzzz bzzz bzzz bzzz-so laaazy. On one occasion, we heard an alternate pattern. Note the striped olive back of the female taking flight.

We heard the Black and White Warblers at markers 1 and 5. Its song, weesee weesee weesee weesee has been described as wiping newspaper on glass.

We also saw a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet at marker 5. Along the upper half of the trail, I saw both a Golden-Cheeked and a Black and White Warbler, both of which were foraging along the ground-level branches of the juniper trees.

Back at the parking lot, we were treated to the melodious song of a Bewick's Wren. A pair is building a nest in the eaves of the covered visitor's information sign next to the parking lot.

All images taken with Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L at ISO-1600, 1/1000sec, with fill-flash.

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