April Notes from Chaetura

Notes from Chaetura Canyon – April 2024

The continuing mild temperatures and abundant rainfall kept the beauty of this year’s vegetation and wildflowers rolling along.  We can’t remember the last time we have seen such a bountiful and beautiful spring at Chaetura Canyon.  Fortunately, we were able to share the spectacle with a good number of visitors in April – starting with a very enjoyable morning walk the first week of the month with our new Executive Director, Mashariki Cannon.

Mashariki’s visit was followed by a Morning Canyon Crawl on the 13th and Birdathon the following weekend.  Both events were booked to capacity, and everyone seemed to have a fine time.  We are always delighted when Mikael Behrens can join us for the Birdathon like he did again this year.  With his guidance we were able to document 41 species of birds including our first-of-the-season Painted Bunting, Chuck-will’s-Widow, Yellow-billed Cuckoo and several surprisingly large groups of Franklins Gulls as they circled over the Canyon and the boat docks on Lake Austin.  By the end of the month, we had added nine avian species to our list for the year bringing our total to date to 54.  Mikael also found a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher on a nest over the Kiva!  This is only the second time they have been documented nesting here.

Just before tours for our visitors began, we managed to complete last month’s project of building 19 new steps and re-building 110 feet of the sloping trail leading up from the Lower Canyon Trail.  This is a welcome safety addition to the two-mile trail system on the Sanctuary.  Another safety project included re-building and extending the handrail along the entry steps to the residence from the main road.  In addition, we completed demolition and began reconstruction of the accessibility ramp which had begun to deteriorate since it was installed back in 2009.  It will be completed in time for the Chalupas and Chimney Swifts fundraising dinner on May 18th – now sold out.

Chimney Swifts continued to be seen daily, and many of the 19 towers on the Sanctuary were occupied by the end of the month.  However, the large roost which has been common in the 22’ Observation Tower on the residence had not materialized.  It will be interesting to see what the next few weeks bring as the swifts settle into their nestbuilding for the season.  Unlike last year, there does seem to be a good supply of flying insects.  Hopefully this bodes well for all of the insect-eating birds and their young over the coming months.


Best Regards,

Paul and Georgean Kyle
Sanctuary Stewards