This afternoon was spent doing a rapid appraisal of the habitat at St. Edwards Park, slightly west of Austin (Spicewood Springs Road, about two miles west of Loop 360). Heavy rain last night had left the trails muddy and wet. Walking around in the cloudy humid afternoon was not much fun. But the recent rains have been good for our vegetation. The lush green we’re seeing everywhere right now is a welcome change from the dreary brown of last winter. Perhaps our drought has really ended.
About fifty acres of diverse habitat—wetlands, grasslands and woodlands—makes St. Edwards one of the more interesting birding sites in the Austin region. For instance, on 13 May, a solitary Gray-cheeked Thrush (Catharus minimus) was reported here (and another presumably different individual also found at Hornsby Bend.) It was a rare sighting for our area, the bird’s migration (between northern South America and northern Canada) generally taking place along routes much further east. Trevon Fuller was with me today; we didn’t see any thrushes but we saw a lot of warblers that we couldn’t identify to our satisfaction—among birds, we found nothing more exotic than a very loud Green Heron (Butorides striatus). It is a beautiful bird.
Nevertheless the wildlife at St. Edwards was quite amazing. There were rabbits and signs of deer. The most astonishing phenomenon consisted of swarms of juvenile frogs—literally hundreds of them—migrating across trails, jumping like insects and smaller than many of the beetles on the forest floor. Dragonflies and damselflies, as well as an assortment of large butterflies accompanied us throughout our wanderings.