Sunday, April 01, 2007

ENV: Big Springs Ranch Survey

Big Springs Ranch Survey, Real County, 1 April 2007
As i predicted/hoped today was a pretty birdy day at Big Springs Ranch. The biggest surprise was the presence of six species of warblers – none of them the wintering types, and most surprisingly it’s possible all six species are in to breed at BSRC. I would have guessed three species (the usual Hill Country three – Golden-cheeked, Black-and-White, and Yellow-throated), and yes they were there, but how about territorial male Northern Parula (2 of them; i have yet, in 20+ years of looking, to find the mythical Northern Parulas breeding in Ballmoss – maybe these are the ones), a territorial male Tropical-type Parula (i say type because all i could get was a face profile on one side – which had a strong black mask and no eye-crescents -- but i was unable to see both sides of the head, and none of the other things i check when judging purity – hopefully it’ll stick around and we can get better looks), and most surprising to me -- not one, or two, but three strongly territorial, singing Louisiana Waterthrushes (one in Croy House Canyon, one at the Big Springs/Frio junction, and one at the springs; territorial as in manning a singing post 15-25 feet high in trees, singing from a single post for 5-10 minutes before moving).

Although i first got some data on the place April a year ago, this was the first time i was able to actually get around the ranch in spring. Lots of singing going on. Found a Common Raven on a nest, and a Red-tail acting territorial. Most of the usual bird suspects were around. Not much in the way of true winter birds left – 1 Cedar Waxwing, 1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, some Chipping Sparrows (although they also breed here).

A lot of what i found today was fortuitous. When i arrived i found a rockslide about 25 feet wide blocking the road to the springs (i found out later it happened Friday night; not all that surprising considering the eight inches of rain over the last week). Stuck without my planned workspace i scouted around the ranch on roads i had not previously looked at, ending up in the canyon above Croy House, which was rich with warblers (all six species were there, though most were also found later elsewhere). After being told i could access the springs from another road i made my way there late morning and found it hopping too.

Flowers were scarcer than i expected considering the rain (though the roadsides in west Kerr County were loaded with Bluebonnets, composites, Dakota Vervain, and Goldeneye Phlox). On the ranch the only flowers i saw were the large local Yucca sp., lots of Yellow Buckeye (which harbored the few leps i saw settled down), Mountain Laurel, Pitayas, and a few Anemone sp. And of course the oaks were awash with blooms, especially Texas Oak (Quercus buckleyi).

I noted quite a few moving butterflies, though few i could get a handle on, and nothing unexpected. There were what i thought were large Sphingids patrolling the wet swales, and along the riverside grasses. I tried at length to catch one to ID, since we have none listed yet for the Ranch, but they all evaded me. In the list below i still call them Sphingids, though on the way home i wondered if they might not be Giant-Skipper sp. At the time i thought they were too light colored, but now am not sure. Behavioral tips anyone?

I had to head home early for an appointment, and so missed prime Odonate time. They were just getting active as i was leaving, and the numbers til then were not high, nor was the species count rich. The Baskettails though are new for the Ranch list, regardless of species. In general not too much insect activity, other than bees and wasps.

I was hoping to film the salamanders today, but did not see any in the pools where we had them before. There remains a very dense leaf litter base in those pools.

There was, for the first time on our surveys, water flowing at the Big spring. It was not the giant cascades i’ve seen in pictures and on beer bottle labels, but it was flowing enough to produce pools behind about half of the travertine berms.

TX: Real County, Big Springs on the Frio River, 1900’ elev., 1 April 2007, 7:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. CST, 54-79dF, clear, sunny, warm, ocasionally breezy; Tony Gallucci (Ingram)

f = filmed (Tony Gallucci)
n = new to ranch survey
* = introduced

In bloom
Yucca sp.
Yellow Buckeye, Aesculus pavia var. flavescens f
Mountain Laurel, Sophora secundiflora f
Windflower, Anemone heterophylla
Strawberry Pitaya, Echinocereus triglochidiatus

Crepe Myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica *n
Common Fig, Ficus carica *

3 Oyster sp. (fossil) n

2 Carolina Grasshopper
1 Small Grasshopper sp.
2 Red Wasp, Polistes carolina
100 European Honeybee, Apis mellifera *
3 Dystiscid Beetle sp.
4 Veliid Skimmer sp.
1 Cranefly sp.
1 Green Blowfly sp. n

20 Large Sphingid sp. n
4 Duskywing sp.
8 Pipevine Swallowtail
1 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
3 Two-tailed Swallowtail n
1 Falcate Orangetip n
5 Orange Sulphur
4 Lyside Sulphur
4 Sleepy Orange
1 Dainty Sulphur
4 Checkered White n
1 Olive Hairstreak
5 Monarch
1 Variegated Fritillary
4 Red Admiral
1 Lady sp.

1 Familiar Bluet
1 Kiowa Dancer f
4 Aztec Dancer f
1 odonate nymph f
1 Dragonfly sp.
6 Dot-winged-complex Baskettail n
1 Roseate Skimmer
1 Flame Skimmer
1 Pale-faced Clubskimmer

i’m re-examining a lot of the small fish we’ve had, and these will be more generic IDs until i get them sorted out
200 minnow sp. I
200 minnow sp. II
60 Blacktail Shiner
400 Mosquitofish sp.
20 Redbreast Sunfish

20 Blanchard’s Cricket Frog (incl tads)

1 Great Blue Heron
20 Turkey Vulture f
1 Black Vulture
2 Red-tailed Hawk f
2 Spotted Sandpiper
12 Mourning Dove f
2m Black-chinned Hummingbird
20f Archilochus sp
4 Ladder-backed Woodpecker
2 Golden-fronted Woodpecker
1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker f
2 Belted Kingfisher
1 Green Kingfisher f
3 Eastern Phoebe
1 Black Phoebe f
4 Ash-throated Flycatcher
1 Vermilion Flycatcher n
20 Barn Swallow
1 Northern Rough-winged Swallow
2 swallow sp.
8 White-eyed Vireo
2 Yellow-throated Vireo f
1 Red-eyed Vireo n
1 Blue-headed Vireo n
1 Cedar Waxwing f
3 Western Scrub-Jay
5 Common Raven (1 at nest) f
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
6 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher f
1 Bushtit n
10 Carolina Chickadee
12 Black-crested Titmouse f
4 Bewick’s Wren
3 Carolina Wren
4 Canyon Wren
2m Northern Parula n
1m Tropical Parula n
1 Black-and-White Warbler n
7 Golden-cheeked Warbler f
4 Yellow-throated Warbler fn
3 Louisiana Waterthrush f
4 Summer Tanager f
10 Northern Cardinal f
10 Chipping Sparrow
1 Clay-colored Sparrow
1 Cassin’s Sparrow n
3 Lark Sparrow n
2 Rufous-crowned Sparrow
20 House Finch f
3 Lesser Goldfinch f

8 Afghan Ural/Persian Red Sheep f
1 Barbados Sheep f
2 Blackbuck f

TX: Real County, US83, road to BSRC
1 American Kestrel
1 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
2 Common Raven

5 Blackbuck
Cattle * (Red Angus, Black Baldy, Charolais, Texas Longhorn, Hereford)
418 Axis Deer *
12 Sika Deer *
8 White-tailed Deer
30 Barbados Sheep *

TX: Kerr County, TX:39, road to US83 and BSRC
blooming:
Yellow Composite
Goldeneye Phlox, Phlox roemeriana
Texas Bluebonnet, Lupinus texensis
Banks’ Rose, Rosa banksii

3 Monarch

1 Turkey Vulture
40 Black Vulture
1 American Kestrel
4 Mourning Dove
2 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
1 Barn Swallow
2 Purple Martin
1 Common Raven
2 Eastern Bluebird
6 Great-tailed Grackle

Cattle * (Red Brangus, Black Angus, Black Baldy, Hereford, Rodeo Stock)
Goat * (Boer, Angora)
2 Red Lechwe *
2 Dama Gazelle *
2 Blackbuck *
20 Axis Deer *
8 Barasingha *
1 Sika Deer *
1 Pere David’s Deer *
2 Feral Hogs *(dor)

TX: Kerr County, Hill Country Youth Ranch, 1 April 2007
3 Red Wasp, Polistes carolina

2 Pipevine Swallowtail
1 Cloudless Sulphur
2 Checkered White
1 Red Admiral
4 Monarch

3 Turkey Vulture
12 Black Vulture
1 Red-shouldered Hawk
1 Ringed Turtle-Dove (captive)
1 White-winged Dove
1 Mourning Dove
2 Inca Dove
6m Black-chinned Hummingbird
8f Archilochus sp.
1 Silvery-cheeked Hornbill (captive)
2 Golden-fronted Woodpecker
1 Ash-throated Flycatcher
1 Eastern Phoebe
2 Carolina Chickadee
2 Black-crested Titmouse
1 Bewick’s Wren
2 Northern Cardinal
100 Chipping Sparrow
1 Clay-colored Sparrow
1 Rufous-crowned Sparrow
12 Lesser Goldfinch
4 House Finch
4 House Sparrow *
2 Brown-headed Cowbird

12 White-tailed Deer
1 Black-tailed Jackrabbit
1 Fox Squirrel


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