Saturday, April 26, 2008

Great Egret chick

Wilsons Phalaropes

Hiking the trail

Maggie framing the shot

Edward's Plateau

The Bowl on Edward's Plateau

Texas: Day Nine
An early departure will hopefully assure an early arrival up in the hills and bowls of the hill country, but as on many trips we are distracted by the birds and sights en route.  Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Painted Bunting, and Golden-cheeked Warbler call this cool mountain oasis home; clear mountain streams lined with mature cypress and sycamore, hillsides covered with juniper.  This is also the home to much sought-after birds as Zone-tailed Hawk, demanding that you check each and every look-alike Turkey Vulture to find the one that differs slightly; striped tail and feathered head.

The echo of singing Canyon Wrens follows us as we ascend the trail to a secluded bowl carved by thousands of years of running water.  We walk through a tall stand of Big Tooth Maple, one of the few areas where this tree species can be found; the familiar call of the Golden-cheeked Warbler luring us on (it sounds a lot like Black-throated Green Warbler which we see and hear in Connecticut).  Black Phoebe, Western Scrub Jays, and Scott's Oriole are just part of the great diversity of life we find at this higher elevation.  Our looming departure is only forgotten by the jovial spirit of our farewell dinner and visit to the local bat cave to see the evening departure of 12 million bats, at close range, sounds and smells never to be forgotten (nor the sight of two raptor species dining on the airborne mammals).  What a scene!



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