5th Anniversary of the San Marcos Bird Walk

  There were as many birders as species seen Saturday morning at Spring Lake. Stephen Ramirez, who organized and led the first birding hike in September 2011, was met with a similar crowd of avid birders. The numbers of residents interested in learning more about birds has flucuated between a dozen and two dozen. This is a good number for answering questions about behaviors, migration patterns, field marks, and numerous other bird-related questions.
Summer Tanager (Colton Robbins photo)
  In the ensuing years he's ably led the group on the first Saturday of each month. Colton Robbins joined the group about two years ago and has provided the birding list and some great photos. These observations are recorded in Cornell University's eBird database. The list documents migrations and native birds around the San Marcos area.
Another beautiful sunrise over Spring Lake (C. Robbins)
  Saturday's hike was rewarded with a close-up view of a Great Blue Heron flying low over the lake.  Four Wood Ducks with their colorful markings took flight as we closed-in for the better look. Unfazed were the vultures roosting in the top of a nearby tree. Also unfazed and singing but sitting still for photos was the Summer Tanager. No confusing this one with the common American cardinal; the differences were apparent.
   Joining the group is a simple as contacting Stephen@BirdsIview.org or subscribing to the San Marcos Bird Walk Facebook page. Notification of where we are walking and observing usually is posted the afternoon before the walk.

Aquarena Springs, Hays, Texas, US
Sep 3, 2016 7:20 AM - 8:45 AM
Protocol: Traveling
0.5 mile(s)
Comments:     San Marcos Monthly Bird Walk
28 species
Wood Duck  6
Great Blue Heron  2
Green Heron  2
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron  1
All ages and interests. (Lance Jones photo)
Black Vulture 3 Turkey Vulture 4 Killdeer 1 White-winged Dove 60 Mourning Dove 1 Chimney Swift 6 Black-chinned Hummingbird 2 Eastern Phoebe 3 White-eyed Vireo 1 Barn Swallow 3 Cave Swallow 2 Carolina Chickadee 5 Black-crested Titmouse 2 Carolina Wren 2 Bewick's Wren 1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 2 American Robin 5 Northern Mockingbird 2 Summer Tanager 1 Northern Cardinal 2 Common Grackle 1 Great-tailed Grackle 1 Baltimore Oriole 1 Lesser Goldfinch 3
View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31396248

August birding hike 2016

  We started at the Discovery Center on Riverside Drive, the former Nature Center.  It was early, already warm and humid. The Lesser Goldfinches gathered at the sunflowers and enjoyed the seeds. Mockingbirds and various doves flew overhead and treetop to treetop.
Defending the space. (Colton Robbins photo)
  A pair of woodpeckers defended their roost in an old snag just below the Discovery Center grounds. Colton Robbins, who provided the birding list, captured an impressive photo of the encounter.  
  We wound our way into Ramon Lucio Park which borders the San Marcos River and provided habitat for many of the water birds. The highlight for the walk was watching a Barred Owl fly across the park and stir up some excitement among the other birds. One particular Mockingbird was not happy with the raptor's presence and made it known. The American Robin made a strong showing and their presence in late summer was commented upon.
  The monthly birding walks are hosted by Stephen Ramirez and take place at a different natural area or river park on the first Saturday of each month. Contact stephen@birdsiview.org to be placed on the notification list or visit the Facebook page for the San Marcos Bird Walk. 
  Thanks to Colton Robbins for the list and great photo.  -- LJ

San Marcos- Ramon Lucio Park, Hays, Texas, US
Aug 6, 2016 7:05 AM - 8:20 AM
Protocol: Traveling with 15 observers
0.5 mile(s)
Comments:     San Marcos Monthly Bird Walk
76 degrees, partly cloudy, little to no wind.
22 species
Green Heron  1
Turkey Vulture  1
Inca Dove  1
Searching for the Barred Owl

White-winged Dove  70
Mourning Dove  4
Barred Owl  1
Black-chinned Hummingbird  1
Golden-fronted Woodpecker  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Downy Woodpecker  1
Eastern Phoebe  1
Great Crested Flycatcher  1
Western Kingbird  2
Blue Jay  2
Carolina Wren  2
Bewick's Wren  1
American Robin  20
Northern Mockingbird  3
Northern Cardinal  4
Great-tailed Grackle  3
Lesser Goldfinch  2
House Sparrow  3
View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31003396


New location brings out the crowd -- Birding Hike July 2016

  Twenty-six smiling faces watched the sun rise July 2nd over Interstate 35 from the San Marcos Aquatic Resource Center hosted by Dr. Jeffrey Hutchinson, US Fish & Wildlife Service botanist. Our group leader, Stephen Ramirez, was assisted by several Hays County Master Naturalists in answering questions from the large group.
Kenneth Dees talks to Sheila Fling at the start or our walk.
  The SMARC had recently completed a wildlife viewing station and two informational kiosks. The property is unique as it sits on the Blackland Prairie with tall grasses and wildflowers. A natural wetland on southeast section of the property brings in numerous water and shorebirds in addition to the prairie-loving Killdeer, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Shrikes, various swallows, Red-winged Blackbirds and Dickcissels.
  We were able to watch bird behavior as the mamma scissor-tailed encouraged her fledglings to take flight from a brush pile near the wetland. The Red-winged Blackbirds socialized in the leafless trees allowing for excellent spotting of the various field marks thanks to the early morning sunlight.
  While the birding list was not as extensive from previous hikes the variety and difference in species made the trip all the more interesting. And, as is always true, the camaraderie and shared interest made the early morning wake-up all the more enjoyable.
  The monthly birding hikes are held on the first Saturday of each month. Check the facebook page for San Marcos Bird Walk or contact Stephen@birdsIview.org and join the eMail list.

The viewing scope brings the field marks all the closer

11 species (+2 other taxa) total
Great Egret
Mourning Dove
hummingbird sp.
Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Crested Caracara
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Loggerhead Shrike
Barn Swallow
swallow sp.
Red-winged Blackbird
Great-tailed Grackle

River Walk - Bird Walk

Birding over the San Marcos River
   The first Saturday in June didn't look promising as another inch of rain fell overnight. Under cloudy skies and a discolored river we began our walk at the Recreation Center in City Park. We started slow gaining more birders until we reached 16 early-risers.
    It wasn't long before we spied ducks flying overhead and insect-loving birds flitting between the power lines and trees. Many of the kingbirds, wrens and sparrows had a bug-in-beak to feed hungry babies.
   The highlight for me was the juvenile Red-shouldered hawk high in a snag overlooking the river. Although not taking flight, still majestic watching the area below.

   The monthly birding hikes are led by Stephen Ramirez and the birding list is provided by Colton Robbins. --LJ

San Marcos River Walk, Hays, Texas, US
Jun 4, 2016 7:30 AM - 8:35 AM
Protocol: Traveling
0.75 mile(s)
Comments:     San Marcos Monthly City Bird Walk
32 species
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck  4
Wood Duck  5
Green Heron  3
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron  3
Black Vulture  6
Turkey Vulture  1
Red-shouldered Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Killdeer  1
Inca Dove  4
White-winged Dove  3
Mourning Dove  3
Yellow-billed Cuckoo  1
Golden-fronted Woodpecker  2
(special effects added)
Downy Woodpecker 1 Eastern Phoebe 3 Great Crested Flycatcher 3 Couch's Kingbird 1 Western Kingbird 2 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher 1 White-eyed Vireo 1 Blue Jay 3 Barn Swallow 1 Carolina Chickadee 1 Black-crested Titmouse 1 Carolina Wren 4 Northern Mockingbird 3 European Starling 6 Northern Cardinal 7 Great-tailed Grackle 7 Brown-headed Cowbird 1 House Sparrow 10 View this checklist online at

Greenways and Trails Master Plan Survey

Under City Spotlight click "here" to take the survey


Thank you for participating in our survey. The purpose of the survey is to gather information that will assist the City of San Marcos and the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance in developing a greenways and trails master plan (GTMP). The City, the Greenbelt Alliance and Texas State Univeristy are all stakeholders in the GTMP, a component of the City's Transportation Master Plan. The GTMP will include a layout of existing and proposed greenways. The map below illustrates a possible layout of greenways that connect various areas of the City. 

Greenways are corridors of open space that connect people and places. Most greenways contain walking and cycling trails that enhance opportunities for transportation and recreation. Here are some examples of greenway trails:

1. In which city do you live?

2. If you live in San Marcos, which best describes the area of town where you live?

3. Describe your level of support for a system of greenway trails to get from place to place in San Marcos. Select one:

4. What mode of travel do you use most often in San Marcos? Rank each of the following from 1 to 5, with 1 being most likely mode of travel and 5 being least likely:

5. Are you a commuter to San Marcos? Select one:

6. If you are a commuter to San Marcos, do you commute for work or school/university? Select one:

7. How likely would it be for you to use greenway trails to get from place to place in San Marcos? Select one:

8. If you used greenway trails to get from your residence to another place in San Marcos, what would your most likely destination be? Rank the ones you feel are important in ascending order with the lowest number (1) being most likely and highest number (10) being least likely:

9. How often do you use existing trails in San Marcos? Select one:

10. Have you used an existing trail or sidewalk in San Marcos that dead-ends and wished that the trail or sidewalk continued on to a destination?

11. If you answered yes to Question 10, where is the trail or sidewalk located?

12. How important to you would each of the following destinations be if the trail or sidewalk was extended? Rank the ones you feel are important in ascending order with the lowest number (1) being most likely and highest number (10) being least likely:

13. If you used greenway trails to get to a destination in San Marcos, how long would you be willing to walk or bike to get to the destination? Select one:

14. How far do you live from the nearest park/natural area? Select one:

15. Have you lived in a community that has a system of greenway trails to get from place to place?

16. If you have lived in a community with a system of greenway trails, how often did you use the system of greenway trails in that community? Select one:

17. In your opinion, what are the most important benefits and uses of a greenway trail system? Rank from 1 to 4, with 1 being most important and 4 being least important:

18. What do you think are the biggest factors that discourage greenway trail use? Rank from 1 to 8, with 1 being the biggest factor and 8 being the smallest factor:

19. What amenities are most important to you for greenway trails? Rank from 1 to 9, with 1 being the most important and 9 being the least important: