One day each month, the SaddleBrooke Ranch (SBR) Nature Trail is humming with birders, surveying the many species that can be seen there. On any given survey, between 25 to 30 distinct species are recorded. Since June 2020, I have led more than 100 different SBR residents and a few outside birders on the top trail in SaddleBrooke Ranch. It is a real jewel and one that the developers began around 2007. Relish in the fact that we are the only Robson development to have a nature trail.
The trail begins at the Golden Ranch Fire Station and section one stretches 1 1/4 miles to Egret Road near the community garden. From there, section two extends ½ mile to Cattle Trail. It continues from there in a more undeveloped trail, eventually connecting with E Robson Circle. The developer and HOA understand how important the nature trail is to the community.
Along the trail, you will see more than 12 different signs identifying the flora and fauna of the area selected by residents previously employed by the HOA. The trail is regularly maintained and is easy to walk. The trail offers three locations where you can sit on benches and soak in your surroundings.
When it comes to birdwatching, you will see and hear many species along the trail. Birdwatching has become an extremely popular hobby, with more than 45 million birdwatchers in the country. Since survey and recording the bird species on eBird, a Cornell University citizen science program, we have reported a hundred distinct species of birds since June 2020—even some rare species such as the Grasshopper Sparrow and Osprey. Birdwatching is an activity that allows you to slow down and unplug from the hectic pace of life. It has become so popular here at the Ranch, that the monthly survey fills up within a day or two of their announcements.
But birds are not the only thing that is seen on the trail. Javelina, coyotes, rattlesnakes, lizards, rabbits, and deer are just a few of the mammals and reptiles encountered.
The nature trail is not the only area to see the biodiversity of SBR. Several arroyos and trails surround the development and make for some interesting hiking. This month the American Wigeons will return to our pond along with several other species. I have seen more than 30 different duck species on the pond since 2020. Please remember to wear appropriate clothing and footwear, carry plenty of water, wear sunscreen, and watch for our wildlife, including snakes.
This month will be the start of the annual Christmas Bird Count that has been conducted since 1900. Volunteers from across North America and beyond take to the field during one calendar day between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5 to record every bird species and individual bird encountered with a designated 15-mile diameter circle. The closest Christmas Bird Count to us is the Dudleyville Circle. If you are interested in participating, contact Jim Hoagland at [email protected]. Good birding and happy holidays to all.