I hit the road near 7 a.m. to drive 90 minutes southwest to Cleburne State Park. This turned out to be driving to Fort Worth and then driving half an hour south.
I had not been to Cleburne State Park in over twenty five years. I wanted to renew my acquaintance with the park.
The park proved lovelier than I remembered. It has rolling hills, juniper groves, a lovely small Cedar Lake, and lots of little rock outcroppings. This part of north Texas is like a cross between the Hill Country to its south and the Cross Timbers to its north, with a little north Texas prairie feel thrown in.
I began hiking the trails. As I began,I came upon a tree filled with 15 Black Vultures. A few yards later,I found a tree with 15 Turkey Vultures. I figured any hike is off to a good start if it is filled with vultures.
In a Juniper grove, I saw a lovely Northern Cardinal singing.
Then, nearby, I saw a Bewick's Wren singing. The Bewick's Wren's range has an eastern limit that is a little west of my home. So I enjoyed seeing this little singing wren. I was unable to get a good picture of it, though.
As I hiked, I heard a little bird singing loudly. I spotted it. At one point, it flew onto a branch right near me. I quickly swiveled my camera, and got this snap:
I wondered what bird I had snapped. I knew it was not a finch,though its coloration was a bit like a goldfinch. I thought it might be a warbler, but I decided it must be a vireo. Then, the question was "what vireo?".
I went to the park ranger station and asked for the bird list handout. I discovered that the White-Eyed Vireo is fairly common in that park. I looked on my smart phone, and sure enough, that was the identification.
I also managed to get a few snaps of this Carolina Wren:
I also liked the wildflowers in and around the park. There were Texas Bluebonnets,
Yellow Evening Primrose, and this field of Goldenrod just outside of town:
One thing did tempt me. The park ranger office had great handouts of directions to other nearby state parks. One was Meridian State Park. Meridian State Park was only a half an hour away. I've never visited that park, but it is one of the great places to try to see the lovely and endangered Golden-Cheeked Warbler. But I saved that drive for another day.
I ate some Church's fried chicken and drove home.I saved for another day the other parks and also the museums in Cleburne. As I headed home, I realized that since I had been there last, the towns of Cleburne, Joshua and Burleson had become intertwined, making together a kind of rural metropolitan area.
Fort Worth, as usual, decided to strategically stall the entire city on the freeway. But I made it home in two hours. I processed in my pictures. I took Beatrice for a walk. She stared long and hard at the rabbit across the street.
When the little white dog who always runs free saw Bea, she came across the street. I thought they would say "hi" and then I could get the white dog's owner's number from its collar, and let that owner know that this dog, as often happens, had "busted loose". But Beatrice and that dog barked at each other, with Bea at age 16 displaying the rare vestiges of her short run as a tough customer.
I told the other dog to stay away, and both Bea and the other dog seemed happy as clams and ignored each other. Later, I walked in Green Park, and took pictures of yet another Northern Cardinal. When I lived in southern California, I missed the Northern Cardinal. I never take them for granted now.
Tonight my wife and I had a great meal of Chinese food, and now we are watching an old Jane Wyman movie.