Nalle Bunny Run Group Walk 2016-03-19

This morning 11 folks joined me for the monthly group walk on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run. It was a cold windy morning when I arrived at the preserve and I was worried that it would be a cold and uneventful group walk, but it turned out to be one of the most fun group walks in the past couple years! Besides enjoying what turned out to be a beautiful cool and clear morning, we had three especially memorable bird observation experiences.

The first was on the west part of the preserve when we encountered a group of 150-200 Cedar Waxwings in just a couple trees. As we watched they periodically flew down into the Yaupon bushes and ate the red berries. They were so skittish! One moment a Yaupon bush would be alive with birds, the next it would be empty when the birds all sensed something that scared them back into the trees. And they let us get so close! Sometimes groups of birds would fly by within 10 feet of us. This time of year is just about the peak of Cedar Waxwing numbers. They are a winter-resident bird and birds who wintered further south have already started their journey north and have joined the birds who wintered in the Austin area. Here are some photos and a video of them flying into and then leaving a Yaupon bush:

Cedar Waxwings Perched

Cedar Waxwings Perched

Cedar Waxwings Feeding on Yaupon Berries

Cedar Waxwings Feeding on Yaupon Berries

Our second experience was down by the lake where probably the same single male Yellow-throated Warbler has returned to the cypress trees. I initially heard it singing a couple times and played a recording of its song on my phone to coax it in closer to the group. It came right up to us, singing and easily visible to everyone. Later it was literally right over our heads, still singing without any coaxing from my recordings. This is a rare species in Travis county, and for years a handful of these birds have been breeding in the cypress trees of the Bunny Run. But for the past few, only one male has returned. I think this bird was him.

Yellow-throated Warbler

Our third experience was in the same area near the water. For the past few winters there has been a Pyrrhuloxia spending the winter on the Bunny Run, a western species similar to Northern Cardinal that is rare for the Austin area. This winter there have been many more Pyrrhuloxia than normal around Austin, and there had been a pair of them on the Bunny Run. Today we saw four! Here are a couple distant shots of one of the males:

Pyrrhuloxia

Pyrrhuloxia

What a fun morning! Here is our complete bird list.

And here are a few more photos.

Posted by mikaelb mikaelb, March 20, 2016 00:27

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)

Observer

mikaelb

Date

March 19, 2016 09:22 AM CDT

Description

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

We were so fortunate to run into a group of about 200 Cedar Waxwings perched in the trees that was very tolerant of our presence. As we watched, the birds would fly down into Yaupon bushes loaded with red berries and eat them. They were so skittish! Sometimes a strong gust of wind would scare them all back up into the trees. They were doing all this right in front of us. Sometimes they flew by within 10 feet of us!

Photos / Sounds

What

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

Observer

mikaelb

Date

March 19, 2016 10:02 AM CDT

Description

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

Photos / Sounds

What

Yellow-throated Warbler (Setophaga dominica)

Observer

mikaelb

Date

March 19, 2016 10:07 AM CDT

Description

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

This is most likely the single male that has returned to the preserve every summer for the past few years. There used to be several of these warblers that returned here and nested, but for the past couple years there has only been this single male.

Photos / Sounds

What

Pyrrhuloxia (Cardinalis sinuatus)

Observer

mikaelb

Date

March 19, 2016 10:39 AM CDT

Description

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

All winter there has been a pair of Pyrrhuloxia on the preserve but today there were four! And everyone in the group got great looks at them!

Photos / Sounds

What

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)

Observer

mikaelb

Date

March 19, 2016 10:59 AM CDT

Description

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

Photos / Sounds

What

Texas Mountain Laurel (Dermatophyllum secundiflorum)

Observer

mikaelb

Date

March 19, 2016 11:18 AM CDT

Description

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

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