Re-visiting Fort Davis and Davis Mountains


For you that love to look at my photos, I have many in this post, so sit back and enjoy.

Back in September, Ann and I had visited the city of Fort Davis and the Davis Mountains State Park.  A few days ago, we decided to make a return trip and try to see more of the area than we did the first time.  I must say, there is so much to see there if you like the great outdoors; wildlife and great scenery.

We left Sunday morning early to drop our dog, Suzie off at the sitter.  Then after some breakfast at the nearby “Golden Arches”, we were on our way.  Because of the dangerous traffic through the oil fields of west Texas, we opted to take Hwy 277 due south to connect with I-10 in Sonora.  We like that way, also, because we know where all of the rest stops are located.  Always good to know.

Of course, we always are in the birding mode so we are continually on the alert for any of the avian variety.  Of course, on the interstate highways it is nearly impossible to stop to get photos.  Along the way, we did see the usual variety of doves, grackles, and some un-identifiable sparrows, plus the occasional raven.

Common Raven

Common Raven

We arrived in Fort Stockton around noon and had lunch, at you can probably guess.  You got it — the McD’s again.  Hey, I like their quarter-pounders.  From there we traveled on then connected with Hwy 17 to go through Balmorhea and on to Fort Davis.  We arrived much to early to check in to our room so we decided to have a look at the bird blinds at Davis Mountains State Park, only a few miles away.

It was very warm, so there weren’t any birds to speak of at the first blind that we stopped at, but going to the second one about a quarter mile away, it was much more promising.  We saw several species, including a Yellow-rumped Warbler, Northern Cardinal,Western Scrub Jay, White-breasted Nuthatch, Acorn Woodpecker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker and a few miscellaneous sparrows, etc.

Western Scrub Jay

Western Scrub Jay

Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpecker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

After spending about an hour at the two blinds we headed to check into our room at the Davis Mountains Inn.  Click the link for photos of the inn and see information about their rates, etc.  The innkeepers are Bill and Nancy Davis.  They are wonderful people to meet.  We certainly have made great friends with them.  Together they also own properties in the city of Fort Davis.  One is the Drugstore and Art Gallery.

Speaking of the Drugstore, we ate two meals there during our stay and the food was magnificent.  We heartily recommend eating there if you visit the area.

While visiting with them, they came to admire my work, and asked me to be their featured artist at their gallery during the upcoming Fort Davis Frontier Christmas celebration.  I will be signing my book and selling it along with some of my work.  I was very honored that they asked me to do this.

On Monday morning, after a great breakfast at the inn cooked by Adrianna, we decided to return to the blinds at the Davis Mountains SP.  Both blinds were a flurry of activity.  We ended up spending most of the morning there.  We saw a total of sixteen different species.

But while at the blind, we were treated to a surprise of a different nature.  Seven Javelinas wandered in with three babies accompanying them.  What a neat thing to see.  However, I had my bird photography set-up with my 150-600mm zoom lens.  It proved to be almost too much lens for the occasion, as the Javelinas were only about twenty feet in front of me.  So the photos aren’t the greatest compositions.

adult Javelina

adult Javelina

Adult Javelina with two babies peeking.

Adult Javelina with two babies peeking.

Baby Javelinas are dwarfed by the adults.

Baby Javelinas are dwarfed by the adults.

During the afternoon we decided to make one of our favorite drives in the area.  We head south towards Marfa, Texas.  It is around a 20-mile drive on Hwy 17, but very very little traveled.  We love to take a slow leisurly drive, watching for birds along the fence lines and overhead wires.  We saw these tiny birds, plus several American Kestrels, Shrikes, etc.

American Pipit

American Pipit

Grasshopper Sparrow

Grasshopper Sparrow

After returning, it was time for supper so we bought a pizza at Murphy’s Pizza in Fort Davis, and took it back to the inn where we enjoyed a cold refreshment along with it.  We were happy with our journey so far.

The following day, after a great breakfast of pancakes and sausage cooked by Bill Davis himself, we decided to make the scenic loop that begins going northwesterly towards the McDonald’s Observatory.  We stopped there at the domes atop Mt. Locke and saw some Eastern Bluebirds and House Finches up there.

After stopping at the visitor’s center and gift shop, to use the facility, we continued on, seeing several Western Scrub Jays along the way and numerous Red-tailed Hawks.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

This loop continues around and through the Davis Mountains.  I get so much into the wildlife mode that I forget about the beautiful scenery around me.

Sawtooth Mountain

Sawtooth Mountain

Mountains with Cholla in the foreground.

Mountains with Cholla in the foreground.

I think these boulders have been there longer than that metal gate and fence.

I think these boulders have been there longer than that metal gate and fence.

That drive is only about 60-70 miles but it took Ann and I about three and a half hours to complete it.  Too many opportunities for photos.  Obviously I am not going to post all of them here.  Besides a lot of them are throw-aways.

Unfortunately all good trips must come to an end.  But – the fun is not necessarily over.  We left for home on Wednesday morning.  We take Hwy 17 north and the vista from Wild Rose Pass always blows my socks off.  That is Star Mountain that is in the distance.

Star Mountain from Wild Rose Pass

Star Mountain from Wild Rose Pass

Continuing on we come to Balmorhea State Park.  We decided to take some time there.  There are some wetlands that are always promising.  It didn’t fail us.  I got these amazing photos there.

Black Phoebe

Black Phoebe

Black Phoebe

Black Phoebe

American Coot

American Cooot

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

What a great way to finish our trip.  We continued on home from here having had a wonderful four days.

During our stay we observed 42 different species, 16 of them at the bird blinds at the Davis Mountains State Park, and the rest in the surrounding areas.

We added two more to our 2014 Big Year list, the Black Phoebe and the American Pipit, bring our current total to 196.  Only four more to go to get tour target of 200.

Click on any photo to see great enlargements.

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29 thoughts on “Re-visiting Fort Davis and Davis Mountains

  1. Fabulous! This post is a veritable feast for the eyes! I was going to start listing my favorites and then realized I loved them all – but especially the scrub jay and the acorn woodpecker. I had to smile because I realized the acorn woodpecker looks like he’s wearing a Catholic cardinal’s head cap. 🙂 Also, the red-tailed hawk looks like he has a golden glow all about him!

    I was quite interested in the javelinas as I recently read a series of books that mentions them often, so now I know what they look like! I can see why that view blows you away. The whole trip sounded so wonderful!

      • Thanks for the wonderful comment on my photos of the trip to Fort Davis. I am so glad that you liked them. The Acorn Woodpecker is one of my favorite woodpeckers. They look like little clowns. About my being honored at the Drugstore Gallery in Fort Davis. The info is that they will have a reception for me on December 13, and allow me to have a book signing in conjunction with. Of course, I will have framed work and prints for sale, too. If you are in the area, stop by. 🙂

  2. Bob, I very much enjoyed meeting both you and Ann at the “Inn”. I hope to be back before the end of the year, although not sure if it will coincide with your exhibition or not. Take good care and keep shooting. Best, Simon

  3. What a fantastic trip, Bob! I always like seeing the combination of birds and scenery – the landscapes are amazing. Are the javelinas native to Texas? Excuse me for not knowing!! 😀 Glad to know you both had a lovely time!

    • Thanks for the lovely comment, Jo. The Javelinas are native to the Americas, south and central, and southwestern U.S. Don’t worry for not knowing, I had to look it up myself. 🙂

  4. Enjoyed your post. Thanks for sharing this trip with us. I think I am almost as eager for you and Ann to get those remaining four birds as you are! Should be a walk in the park!! hugs

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