Nalle Bunny Run 2017-08-19

7 people joined me this morning at 8:00 for the monthly group walk on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run Wildlife Preserve in west Austin. In a little over 2 hours we covered about 1.1 miles, making a rough circuit of the property, looking and listening for birds and other wildlife. Here are some highlights.

The first and biggest highlight was finding this juvenile Great Horned Owl shortly after turning east onto the trail towards the spring. There are often owls in this section of the preserve, but I can only remember one other time when I spotted an owl before it spotted us and flew away. This one tolerated our watching it for a few minutes before flying across the trail and into the woods to the north. Look at those huge feet and talons!

Great Horned Owl

Down the hill in the oak-juniper woods we got to observe the presence of a mixed-species foraging flock of songbirds, mostly Northern Cardinals, Carolina Chickadees, and Black-crested Titmice. They were hard to see in the dense woods, but if you listened carefully you could hear their contact calls all around us. I talked a bit about Bird Language, and how we were experiencing base-line behavior of the birds quietly foraging while staying in ear-shot of each other.

Near the northeast corner of the preserve, right where the sandy prairie meets the oak-juniper woods, I spotted a dragonfly with green eyes and yellow stripes flying around. I've seen these flying around this area before, but I've never been able to photograph or identify one because they never landed for me. Today, this one landed! I was just as excited about this as I was about the owl! I'm 99% sure it's a Royal River Cruiser, a species I've never found before:

Royal River Cruiser - 1

On the sandy prairie area we found two more cool insects, first this orange and black velvet ant, a kind of flightless wasp. It was running around on the sand, digging little exploratory holes:

Velvet Ant - 1

And we found another dragonfly, this female Eastern Amberwing. It's the smallest dragonfly species in Texas, only about 1 inch long:

Eastern Amberwing

We only saw two south-bound migrating birds this morning, both female Orchard Orioles. Here's a distant photo I got of one of them. Orioles are in the blackbird family, and you can see this one's typical blackbird-like pointy bill:

Orchard Oriole

We ended up finding 24 species of birds. Here's our complete bird list on eBird.

And here are the same photos on Flickr.

Posted by mikaelb mikaelb, August 19, 2017 21:20

Observations

Photos / Sounds

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What

Eastern Amberwing Perithemis tenera

Observer

mikaelb

Date

August 19, 2017 09:19 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the monthly group walk on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run Wildlife Preserve.

Eastern Amberwing dragonfly, female

Photos / Sounds

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What

Orchard Oriole Icterus spurius

Observer

mikaelb

Date

August 19, 2017 09:37 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the monthly group walk on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run Wildlife Preserve.

This was our only migratory songbird, one of two female Orchard Orioles.

Photos / Sounds

Observer

mikaelb

Date

August 19, 2017 09:17 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the monthly group walk on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run Wildlife Preserve.

This small velvet ant was running around the sandy prairie area digging tiny exploratory holes.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Great Horned Owl Bubo virginianus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

August 19, 2017 08:28 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the monthly group walk on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run Wildlife Preserve.

The highlight of the walk was early on, when we encountered this sleepy-looking Great Horned Owl which didn't seem to mind us watching it from a distance for a few minutes.

The lack of rusty brown in the face and lack of dark borders on the outside of the cheeks makes me think this is a juvenile bird. Juvenile birds are also usually more tolerant of being observed.

Photos / Sounds

What

Royal River Cruiser Macromia taeniolata

Observer

mikaelb

Date

August 19, 2017 09:04 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the monthly group walk on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run Wildlife Preserve.

I was just as excited to find this dragonfly as I was the owl. I've seen them flying around this area before but this morning was the first time one landed and I was able to photograph it. I think it's a Royal River Cruiser, distinguished from a Swift River Cruiser by the lowest yellow stripe on the abdomen being broken in the middle.

Comments

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Great post! Particularly liked your comment: "Bird Language, and how we were experiencing base-line behavior of the birds quietly foraging while staying in ear-shot of each other."
I "experience" that every afternoon when I feed my domestic geese, ducks and guineas.

Posted by connlindajo almost 4 years ago (Flag)
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Thanks! I hadn't thought much about waterfowl having a similar system.

Posted by mikaelb almost 4 years ago (Flag)
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Thanks for leading. Great photos.

Posted by jquadruped almost 4 years ago (Flag)

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