Sunday, May 25, 2014

Kickapoo Cavern State Park or "Holy Bat Cave!", 5/16/14

Last weekend Honey and I took our new Subaru Forester camping up to Kickapoo Cavern State Park east of Del Rio.  Overall it's a beautiful, quiet park with lots of fascinating wildlife.  On the downside it was very dry as the continuing drought ravages most of Texas.  But there was still neat stuff to see.  The park was absolutely infested with Yellow-breasted Chats squawking and chirping all over the place.

After setting up camp and cooking up some fajitas over the grill, we headed up to Stuart Bat Cave to catch the evening flight.  All I can say is it was one of the most impressive nature spectacles I have ever experienced.  At about 7:30 PM the bowels of the earth started to expel Mexican Free-tailed Bats at a rate of over a hundred per second.  The air was filled with the roar of bats shooting out of the cave, bringing with them the stench of ammonia and other noxious nitrogen compounds from their guano filled daytime roosts.

The show continued for over 30 minutes.  Hundreds of thousands of bats made for a hunting opportunity that could not be resisted by this Red-tailed Hawk.  I saw him snag three of the bats.

The next morning I hiked from our campsite to the Pine Canyon trail hoping to photograph Black-capped Vireos.  I saw several  but came away without any photos.  Black-throated Sparrows were common.

This part of Texas is an amazing blend of east, west and south.  The three areas represented by Field Sparrow, Rufous-crowned Sparrow and Olive Sparrow.  Here's a peekaboo shot of a Rufous-crowned.

A few Montezuma Quail are said to still reside within the park but all I saw were a few Scaled Quail.

My best sighting for the trip was not a bird but this neat Hog-nosed Skunk, my first for Texas.

I got back to camp only to discover a bunch of Boy Scouts had invaded and had promptly plugged up the campground toilet.  So Honey and I decided to pack up and head for home and to enjoy sleeping in our own comfortable bed.  Saw this neat Crevice Spiny Lizard along the highway.

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