Chaetura Canyon Sanctuary News By Georgean and Paul Kyle

The month of October started with breakfast and a tour of Chaetura Canyon for the new Master Birding Class led by Cindy Sperry. More than 30 participants attended the inaugural field trip for this new Travis Audubon program. October is a transition time for avian species, so the tour focused more on habitat than birds.

October and November offered a paucity of birds with the Chimney Swifts departing on October 20th. These two months were actually more notable for mammals than birds. On the November Point Count we discovered what appeared to be the first signs of feral hogs on the sanctuary. Several large areas on the edge of the canyon were rooted up, and these were not the typical armadillo rootings that are so common. The next day we found additional damage and suspicious footprints of at least two different sized animals.

We set up a trail camera at the head of the canyon where the first damage was noted, but did not capture any images of hogs. However, there was a tremendous amount of other “traffic” recorded: mostly White-tailed Deer and Raccoons. The prize image was a Ringtail. The next day we moved the camera to the trail where we had found the tracks – again lots of images of the usual suspects. The biggest surprise was not the Coyotes but the first confirmed Bobcat on the sanctuary. Tracks and scat have been noted, but this is the first confirmation.

2016 marked the tenth anniversary for the formation of the Chaetura Canyon Sanctuary. The Chaetura Canyon Management Committee met recently with the Travis Audubon Executive Committee to discuss the future of Chaetura Canyon: how to make it better and how best to preserve it. The committees collectively agreed that an overall Management Plan for all of the parcels is needed to draw together the original core property (donated by the Kyles in 2006) and those that have been added over the past decade. All parties also agreed that growing the Chaetura Canyon Endowment Fund is critical to the well-being of the property. A good start has been made, but the goal is not modest. If you love this small remarkable little Canyon as we do, please consider helping us grow this endowment.