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Day 5 (Wednesday, 20th April)

Map of Lost Maples


East trail

Pond area

The East trail

More open area next to the pond

After a night in Kerrville, we made the 50 miles trip through surprisingly hilly roads, with the drizzly rain falling, to Lost Maples State Park. We bypassed the office, which was closed at this time, and found the car park a little further along. Once out of the car, we were surrounded by tree clad hills, with a stream running through the centre. This immediately proved to be a good spot for sparrows. 3 small birds which flew into a tree proved to be Clay-coloured Sparrows, only occasionally showing the distinctive grey neck collar, a single Lincoln’s Sparrow was in a separate bush moments later, and Chipping Sparrow in front of us. A small passerine singing on the wires in the early light threw us initially, but was a poorly marked Indigo Bunting. A more brash looking Blue Grosbeak 50m away put it to shame. First job of the morning was to look for Golden-cheeked Warblers, one of the specialities of the Edwards Plateau. This is supposedly a prime spot to find them, so we took the East Trail towards the ponds. We had studied their call, so listened carefully, but it took almost half of the walk to pick up the first bird. It also took around half an hour to obtain 3 half decent views of it. About another 100m along, we were looking up at Gnatcatchers, when another Golden-cheeked Warbler appeared. Although at the top of the canopy, it provided a better look at the species, especially when it started to sing. A little further down, just short of the ponds, we were almost thrown by a singing Louisiana Waterthrush, about 40 feet up at the apex of a dead tree. We hadn’t expected them to sing so high up, but it did give good views, including distinctive features from Northern Waterthrush.

Golden-cheeked Warbler

Golden-cheeked Warbler

Golden-cheeked Warblers

We eventually reached the pond, which was a good birding spot, kicked off by a Green Kingfisher almost as soon as we looked down on to the pond itself. The less dense spacing of the trees here was better for flycatchers and other small passerines. Only 1 of the flycatchers was seen well enough for identification – an Eastern Phoebe. This was the site for another Golden-cheeked Warbler, right above our heads in much smaller trees. We were even treated with an even better look at a group of up to 3 Carolina Wrens. White-eyed & Red-eyed Vireos sang well here. We headed a little way beyond the pond, and before turning back, found the 4th Golden-cheeked Warbler of the morning, and Yellow-throated Vireo. Within the pond itself, in the water vegetation near to the shore, was an impassive Diamond-backed Water Snake. Just as we left the pond, we found another group of Clay-coloured Sparrows, which were proving to be quite common, and added to an earlier Grasshopper Sparrow along the trail. About half way back, we passed under a rocky cut in the trail, which had loudly singing Canyon Wren, which flew across the trail. This led to the first Eastern Wood-pewees of the day, along with more Orange-crowned & Nashville Warblers. Finally, at the end of this trail were 2 male Summer Tanagers. These were almost overlooked – after so many cardinals, a flash of red was becoming commonplace.

Carolina Wren

Western Diamonbacked Water Snake

Carolina Wren

Western Diamond-backed Water-snake

After returning to the car, we had to go back to the centre to pay the entrance fee, since they don’t seem to open until 10am. As we pulled up, there was a lot of bird activity in front of the main building, due to the presence of hummingbird and seed feeders. This small area was a hive of activity for many species, particularly impressive being small numbers of Black-chinned Hummingbirds with fewer Ruby-throats amongst them, not only feeding, but having the occasional mid air squabble as well. On the seed feeders were House Finches and Chipping Sparrow, along with the odd Clay-coloured Sparrow, but patience was rewarded with male Indigo & Painted Buntings. An Eastern Phoebe nearby had a nest under the eaves of the visitor centre. A nice end to an excellent park.

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Painted Bunting

Indigo Bunting

Painted Bunting

Indigo Bunting

Eastern Phoebe

Chipping Sparrow

Eastern Phoebe

Chipping Sparrow


KerrLost Maples does have a few pairs of Black-capped Vireos, but a much better site is Kerr Wildlife Management Area, which is just under an hour away. It is purported to have had up to 100 pairs on the reserve. We were disappointed on arrival to find a turkey shoot in progress, which means absolutely no birding within their vicinity (possibly to avoid us strangling them), but we were quickly told by a fellow manning the shooting stand that we only had to drive a mile or so further down on to Schumacher Road, and then ¾ miles up this track to the old windmill for one of the best locations for the vireos. The drizzle had begun again, so we weren’t too optimistic, but we parked next to the windmill, and within 5 minutes had pinpointed a singing male, generally deep within its bush of choice. Having had half reasonable views of this stunning bird, we walked a little way back down the track and eventually located another 4 birds (3 singing, 1 with a second bird). Apart from our target bird, there was very little activity, apart from Summer Tanager, Cerulean Warbler, Bewick’s Wren, and small numbers of Black-crested Titmice. Satiated with both of the Edwards Plateau specialities, we set off for a celebratory rack of ribs and glass of beer, before the long journey to the other side of Houston for High Island the next morning.


Home

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Introduction

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Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Species list

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