The sun was just rising as Stephen Ramirez led six of us on one of our most productive birding hikes on November 2, 2013. The Blanco River had flooded two days earlier and it was still quite muddy. Tree limbs and other debris clung to the barbed wire fencing and lower limbs of the pecan trees.
|Viewing across the Blanco River at one of the several hawks we saw.|
We walked to the river and immediately saw woodpeckers flitting about and a red-tailed hawk perched high in a dead tree. There were many of the expected species for Central Texas: white-winged dove, mourning dove, great-tailed grackle, house finch, lesser goldfinch, European starling, Eastern phoebe, rock dove, blue jay, northern cardinal, northern mockingbird, black vulture, red-winged blackbird, black-crested titmouse and Carolina wren, many in abundance. We were also treated with no tricks, twice, to seeing a wood duck flying along the river, a green kingfisher, a ruby-crowned kinglet and an orange-crowned warbler in the trees.
Woodpeckers were out in abundance with sightings of red-bellied woodpecker, yellow-bellied sapsucker and the yellow shafted northern flicker most common. Hawks made their appearance by standing vigil high in the trees. We all got see a juvenile red-shouldered hawk, a red-tailed hawk and an American kestrel through the spotting scope that Stephen provided.
A large owl flew past but too briefly to get a proper identification. We also saw a large number of mosquitoes but they did not seem to bite, simply annoy.
In addition to the downed trees and limbs we saw a river otter in the Blanco and recent evidence of feral hogs in the park.
The birding hikes take place on the first Saturday of each month. Stephen has been leading a dozen or so to birding sites around San Marcos. He can be contacted at BirdsIview.org. Blanco Shoals natural area is a City of San Marcos property at the end of River Ridge Parkway. There are no trails or amenities at the present time. Read a full description on the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance website under the ‘Natural Areas’ tab.