Sunday, June 20, 2021

Balcones Canyonlands NWR - Texas

Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge ("BC") is in the Hill Country of Texas east of Marble Falls, west of Round Rock and northwest of Austin. It was established in 1992 to preserve 72 square miles of habitat primarily for the endangered and endemic golden-cheeked warbler, as well as the endangered black-capped vireo and to preserve habitat for other Hill Country animals. It is hilly, really mountainous, and straddles the divide between the Colorado and Brazos River watersheds. 

We visited in March 2021 and stayed nearby in Marble Falls. In the evening we drove about 29 miles to the Shin Oak Observation Deck on FM 1869 which is the best place to see the black-capped vireo. Unfortunately, we did not see any wildlife of any kind. We also stopped briefly at the Doeskin Ranch portion, as it was getting dark, which we saw along the way. 

The next morning we drive 17 miles from Marble Falls to the Doeskin Ranch portion. Along the way, before actually reaching BC, we stopped along the road and got photos of non-native red deer, some black vultures and a crested caracara. 
Non-native red deer. The first time I've seen them in the wild. 

Across the street from the red deer we saw these and other black vultures. 

But what got me to stop was the crested caracara along the road which flew into the tree with the black vultures. I've only seen the caracara on several previous occasions on a trip to Mexico. 

At BC we hiked the Pond and Prairie Trail and the Creek Trail, both of which are short, but great for birds and beautiful.  

Along the Pond Trail.

The small pond.

We saw several northern cardinals but got no good photos of them. 

A savannah sparrow.

Along the Creek Trail. 

Then we headed for Austin on FM 1431 and drove past the headquarters, and farther on, the Warbler Vista, which we turned off to and drove a couple of miles on a dirt road before turning around.

BC is a place we didn't see much wildlife but looks like a perfect place for it. I would like to spend more time there exploring it.  

1 comment:

  1. Lots of driving. Good if you have an audible book you are enjoying.