Sunday, May 4, 2008

Initial Description - San Angelo State Park Blind

A bit of housekeeping here. With each new blind location I will give a basic description of the blind location, whether the blind photographically is a morning or afternoon blind, how the blind(s) are set up, and any other pertinent information.

For San Angelo State Park, the blind is officially known as a wildlife viewing area and would be noted as such on the map if Texas Parks & Wildlife would update SASP's map. The blind has been up for a couple of years but their map has not been updated. Sadly, the same could be said for the various nature trails that are available in the park, but Friends of SASP has some maps on their website and rangers may have better copies in their gate houses.

Location: The park is in the city of San Angelo, Texas. Because SASP is divided between North and South Shores by O.C. Fisher Lake, you must enter the South Shore gate to get to the bird blind. The South Gate is off of Rd 2288, about two miles from where it intersects with US 67. Enter through the south gate and you will see a sign pointing you to Wildlife Viewing. Park in the paved parking immediately past the sign and to the right, then walk down a short dirt road to the blind. The blind is at the end of the dirt road.

Setup: The bird blind is a small shack with movable benches. Unlike the blinds at Pedernales State Park or South Llano River State Park (reviews coming), there are windows that can be opened that run the entire face of the blind as well as two small windows on the sides of the blind. Up to three photographers can comfortably work the blind at a time. Outside the blind there is fencing with openings for cameras as overflow or to increase stealth. They are not set up well for the perches that have been set up.

Perches/Attractants: Three perches have been set up in the front part of the blind. Trees are behind the perches, and a water source is in the middle of the setup. The blind is serviced regularly with seed.

AM/PM: This is a morning blind. Best light is from light overcast conditions, but blind is still very workable with bright sun.

Species: A wide variety of seed feeders come to this blind. Most common spring/summer birds include: Northern Cardinals, White-Crowned Sparrows, Black Tufted Titmice, White Winged and Mourning Doves, Golden-Fronted Woodpeckers, House Finches, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Brown-Headed Cowbirds, and Black-Chinned Hummingbirds. Pictures of what others have shot are on the walls of the blind. Because flowers are also in the area to attract hummingbirds, a small number of butterflies come into the photographing area as well with Pipevine Swallowtails being the most spectacular. I have had rabbits and deer come into the blind to feed as well.

Lens Requirements:
I have shot very successfully off of both my Canon EF 70-300mm IS lens and my EF 300mm L f4 lens. I have seen as big as 500mm with a 2x teleconverter. Definitely overkill I think, but it does lengthen the possibilities.

Other Photo Ops: There are many additional photo ops within the park as well as in the local community of San Angelo. The road that you take to get to the photo blind is intersected by just one of the many trails in the park, the so-called Strawberry Trail. My experience has been that this trail is outstanding for butterflies and flowers as the spring starts to turn to summer. My favorite photo area in San Angelo is the Int'l Water Lily Collection off of Pecos. Outstanding flower, dragonfly, damselfly, and butterfly opportunities abound here.

Image: House Finch (Male), San Angelo S.P., (c) 2008 Jim Miller

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