Saturday, February 7, 2009

Ladder-Backs, Broad-wings and more at the Red Corral

We escaped once again to a favorite R&R place, the Red Corral Ranch between Wimberly and Blanco, Texas. There is a cabin stuck way back in the woods where one can lounge around, read, listen to the silence and relax. Carolina Chickadees and Tufted Titmice flit about the cabin grounds.

Of course, if one wishes, there are plenty of trails through the ranch to explore. One of those trails, appropriately called the Nature Trail, follows the creek from the cabin to the main lodge. It is easy walking, about a mile long, and takes you past open spaces and along cliffs and by terrain where, if one is lucky, one might spot a Golden Cheeked Warbler. Yet, even if one doesn’t there is other avifauna about. On one such walk, we spotted first a female Ladder-Backed Woodpecker and then the male in the oak grove. The sexes look much alike with the exception of red on the head of the male, which the female lacks. The face of this bird is distinctive, and this is what caught our eye. We, also, had a Hermit Thrush run the trail before us as we pressed onward. Pausing as if to wait on us to catch up, it slowly lifted and lowered its reddish tail. Turning once to show us its spotted breast, it darted for cover and left the trail to us.

We walked several trails in addition to the Nature Trail; the Goddess Trail, the Pond Trail and its unmarked offshoot to the north pass a windmill on top of a rise. We saw White Winged Dove, Northern Cardinals, Scrub Jay, Spotted Towhees, Vesper Sparrow, American Robins, Turkey Vultures, and two kettles of Black Vultures. The area just northeast of the Pond netted a pair of soaring Broad-winged Hawks.

The fact that this ranch is managed for the protection of the Golden Cheeked Warbler and the Black Capped Vireo makes this one of our top places to visit, which we do as often as possible.

Photograph of Ladder Backed Woodpecker from Animal Diversity Web.

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