Notes from Chaetura Canyon

February at Chaetura Canyon was a fast-paced flurry of tours, presentations and workdays in preparation for the spring nesting season and annual return of the Chimney Swifts.

Several very successful workdays were held to haul out Juniper slash trimmed out over the winter. It was subsequently chipped for mulch on the new Three Bridges and Driftwood Spur trails. With the help of dozens of volunteers, more than 500 feet of new trail was created, lined and mulched by the end of March.

It is hoped that the Juniper trimming that was done earlier in the year will allow more sunlight to reach the Lindheimer’s Muhly grass that was slowly being shaded out. Other understory plants will likely follow as we are already seeing seedling Silk Tassel, White Boneset, Possum Haw, Agarita, Texas Ash, American Beautyberry and other desirable plants emerge.

By the end of March we were hearing the first local fledglings: Carolina Chickadees, Carolina Wrens and Lesser Goldfinches. The first Chimney Swifts arrived on March 22nd, and more are arriving every day.

After a dry January, we received more than 6” of very welcome rain in February and March leaving the main creek in the bottom of the canyon bubbling along. The wildflowers responded spectacularly with Blue-eyed Grass, Bluebonnets and Celestials stealing the show on the upper trails. Cedar Sage and Red Buckeyes graced the limestone cliffs and stream bed of the lower canyon.

Texas Bluebonnets at Chaetura Canyon.

Mikael Behrens held two of his popular Birding by Ear walks, and Jane Tillman led a Two-hour Tuesday. More of these are planned for the future, so check the TAS calendar for more information.

After looking at the calendar, take a peek at the list of regular Chaetura Canyon events for an opportunity to visit in the coming weeks and months.

The morning Canyon Crawls and Saturday Swift Watches begin the second Saturday in May and run through September. And don’t miss our annual Chalupas and Chimney Swifts fundraising dinner scheduled for May 19th. This event usually sells out, so don’t wait too late!

Georgean and Paul Kyle
Sanctuary Stewards

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