That said its one of the least explored Hotspots in Texas according to eBird. Just 84 checklists have been turned in and only one eBirder accounts for almost 25% of those checklists. There are finds to be made here. My checklist was the first since March. Grace's Warbler and Audubon's (Yellow-rumped) Warbler are abundant. Hairy Woodpecker is common. Its one of two places to see Steller's Jay and Mountain Chickadee in Texas. Its the only place to see Pygmy Nuthatch. That's why I went.
|El Capitan at Dawn|
It took about 1.5 miles to make it into the sunlight. As soon as sunlight hit the sides of the mountain the Black-chinned Sparrows came out. Not soon afterward I had one of those magic moments that happen every couple of years when you're birding. At first two Violet-green Swallows appears. then suddenly a flock of about twenty-five. A sparrow popped up close and I pished to try for a picture. The swallows appears to respond to the pishing and suddenly the whole flock was swirling around me. Those that passed lower than me appeared as emerald steaks. The flock moved off. I pished again and the flock came back. After about five minutes of swirling they vanish, not a swallow in the sky. Magic,
At about 7500 feet on the trail I spotted a hummingbird and it came in closer and I saw it was a Broad-tailed Hummingbird for Year Bird 449. Onward, I had 400 feet to go. Near the top of the trail I got a brief look at a Western Tanager for Year Bird 450.
|Selfie at the top of the Trail|
A bit down the trail I heard a few chip notes and tried my Western Pygmy-Owl imitation. The force was strong with my toots today and I had a good flock going in no time. At first I just saw Audubon's Warblers. You know, Audubon's Warbler in breeding plumage is a knock out warbler. Then I noted a few Grace's Warbler's for Year Bird 451. A white-breasted Nuthatch joined the party.
The owl call was working for me and I stuck with that winning strategy. The next flock produced Plumbeous Vireo and a Western Tanager. Then I heard a low pitched noise behind me that I had never heard before. It was a Broad-tailed Humming bird displaying.
A few clocks later I got a few Chipping Sparrows, Then another White-breasted Nuthatch appears. then I heard a pip almost right above me and I found my main target, A Pygmy Nuthatch for Year Bird 452 and it was camera close. Before I brought the camera to bear it was gone. I had only been in the bowl an hour and I had to decide to continue or head back down. I opted to continue.
About 30 minutes later I finally found a Cassin's Vireo for Year Bird 453. By now I was at the junction of the Juniper and Bowl Trails. What to do? In my hast to leave I had not picked up a trail map, Was the Juniper Tail a short cut? it seemed to head the correct direction. I opted to take it,
On the backtrack I ran into a flock of about ten Western Tanager. I've never seen anything like it. I had no idea they were ever social like this. They all joined in to scold my owl whistle alone with a couple more Plumbeos Vireos.
I made time getting back down. Making it to the car by 5:15 pm. 13.25 miles, 9:43 minutes of hiking. 2741 feet of elevation gain. My legs were like noodles. It was a good day. Check the links below for the birds I saw:
My list for the Tejas Trail
My list for the Bowl