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Bats of Round Rock

April 5, 2015 Leave a comment

Last weekend we were driving north on I35 around sunset. Far away on the horizon I could see smoke. Not unusual. But it wasn’t normal smoke, which stays together. This was like huge puffs of smoke. I thought maybe clouds, but it was moving too fast. As we got closer we thought they were birds. LOTS of birds. My first thought was swifts since they are known for large flocks at dusk, before they settle in for the night. But these were leaving, not arriving. Doris was driving, so I whipped out my phone and started recording. This was made easier by everyone slowing down to watch them. I thought it was just the usual traffic jam, but not today!

As we watched thousands of them go by, I could see they weren’t shaped like birds, but more like bats! Austin is well-known for the 1.5 million Mexican Free-tailed bats that live under the Congress bridge. I’ve been down there to see them once, but they didn’t leave until after dark, so I couldn’t see much. I did not know about the additional 1 million bats in Round Rock. Apparently they don’t mind the train that runs under their home.

This is less than 1 mile south from where I used to bird on occasion, which is the Brushy Creek area by the I35. I would definitely like to head out there some time for proper photos and video.

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Armadillos!

July 27, 2014 Leave a comment

Last weekend I needed to be down south, so once again I took advantage of the location to visit Pedernales Falls State Park. It was very uneventful bird-wise. Only the usual suspects were present and the vast majority were Cardinals and House Finches. Quite a few of the birds were also juveniles, which made for some very rough-looking birds since their color is not yet fully developed. But according to my new butterfly book, I dd get my first photo of a Pipevine Swallowtail.

Pipevine Swallowtail (female)

Pipevine Swallowtail (female)

While at the north blind, we saw two armadillos scurrying back and forth behind the fence along the blind. They did this several times to our great amusement. As we were about to leave, though, one of them came out into the open! Although I have seen a dillo in daylight once at Hornsby, it’s unusual because they are nocturnal, at least in these hotter months. However in the winter, it will only come out when it’s warm. Our state mammal is surprisingly fast and difficult to photograph. It was constantly foraging, so I just kept taking photos hoping that some would be in focus.

Nine-banded Armadillo

Nine-banded Armadillo

Originating in South America, it is a relatively recent arrival to the States, having only crossed the border in the 1800’s. Note the sharp claws which are used for burrowing and digging for insects.

Nine-banded Armadillo

Nine-banded Armadillo

Aside from that, there was nothing else to report. Also, I don’t foresee any more birding trips until the fall. That will give me time to catch up on my vacation photos, of which there are many.

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