Skirting around the Balcones

Yesterday afternoon we set out to hike the Bull Creek Preserve (map) – part of the greater Balcones Canyonlands Preserve (map). Upon arriving at the trail head, we noticed that a sign had been posted that the preserve could be accessed only by permit from March 1st through July 31st. Puzzled, Sarah picked up her cell phone and called the number on the sign. Amanda Ross, the Conservation Program Coordinator, informed her that the City of Austin now issues just 80 permits a year (the application process begins in January) to hikers wanting access to the preserve. Among the various reasons that the City limits access to the precious tract of land is because it’s home to nesting Golden-Cheeked Warblers and Black-Capped Vireos – two migratory tropical songbirds, both of which are on the Endangered Species list. In order to obtain a permit, we must enroll in a brief course with a biologist who would instruct us how to avoid disturbing the nesting birds and their fragile habitat.

Golden-Cheeked Warbler - Photo by John Ingram

Black-Capped Vireo - Photo by John Ingram

Thankfully, the beautiful sunny day was not wasted. Even though we weren’t able to enter, we skirted around the preserve, following the Bull Creek Greenbelt which borders the protected canyonlands. Below are some of the photos we took along the way…

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