Dateline – June 15, 2019

The Trinity River at dawn

Earlier this summer I decided to make a trip out to Irving to visit a nature park that I’ve never been to before. The somewhat hyperbolically named, Mountain Creek Preserve is located on the Trinity River in the southeast part of town. From the nature park, I planned to follow the Campion Trail for a few miles to the west, over to MacArthur Blvd and then back again.

Campion Trail just west of Mountain Creek Preserve
Campion Trail is marked with a number of carving like this one

The trail follows a path running through the woods between the river and the Hunter Ferrell Landfill. As it appeared on Google Maps, Campion Trail promised to trace a route through some prime North Texas habitat.

My plan was to arrive early, hitting the trail just around sunup. I hoped that a combination of early morning hours, the remoteness of the trail, and high summer temperatures would allow me to have the park mostly to myself. With the aid of a little solitude, I liked my chances for observing some interesting wildlife.

Sunrise over Hunter Ferrell Landfill.
Be ready for the smell of methane when you visit
Not quite a mountain creek
Much of the land south of the trail is private property
An old shed behind a field of red and yellow Mexican Hats
Lemon Mint Bee Balm just off the trail
Pea-green swamp water

What I didn’t count on was the annual Hero Hustle Half Marathon which started at 7:00 am that morning. I started encountering huffing and puffing runners about 3/4 of the way down the trail. I would be sharing the trail with them, to one degree or the other, for the rest of the morning.

The trail was pretty busy from 8:00 am on thanks
to the Hero Hustle Half Marathon

They had a pretty good turnout on race day, and the busy trail pretty much ensured there would be limited candid wildlife photography on this trip out. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t see anything. I managed a few interesting observations along the way, and even a surprise or two. Have a look…

The first sighting of wildlife came in the form of this
transmission tower serving as a Black Vulture roost
Well over a hundred of the big black birds were present
Black Vultures
Vultures don’t read so good…
Cows on the private property south of the trail
Cows, Black Vultures, and Cattle Egrets
Cattle Egrets
An aptly named Cattle Egret
Black Vultures in the Mesquites above the cattle
Black Vulture in a field of Mexican Hats
I caught this vulture trying to sneak a drink
Striped Skunk foraging trailside
Cliff Swallows at the MacArthur Blvd bridge
Muddy Coyote tracks on the trail
I spotted this Green Heron as I was returning to
the Mountain Creek Preserve
A Little Blue Heron hunting a shallow pool
on the preserve’s lawn
A Black-bellied Whistling Duck flew by overhead.
One of several seen this morning
Yellow-crowned Night Heron
I was perhaps most excited to see this Anhinga.
He was the first of many I would see
I’m always glad to find a new place to observe
these relatively rare birds
Notice the Anhinga’s sharply pointed bill and large fan-shaped tail
One last look at the might Trinity!

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