Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Initial Description - South Llano River S.P. Blind #1

I had the good fortune to visit South Llano River State park on April 17th. First, I have to say that the folks at the park were super friendly and nice. The rangers and volunteers at the Park HQ were obviously very proud of their park and when I inquired about bird blinds the quickly whipped out a copy of the map, highlighted it, and answered my rookie questions about the park. Well done!

There are 4 bird blinds in the park. I am going to break them up into 4 blog entries. I am using the numbering pattern as if coming off of US Route 377 to Park Road 73, driving towards the Park HQ and looping around the camping area. A map to the park can be found on Texas Parks & Wildlife's website. Bird blinds are represented by the binoculars icon.

Location: South Llano River State Park is located about 5 miles south of the city of Junction off of US Route 377. It is approximately 120 miles west of San Antonio or 295 miles southwest of Dallas. Inside the park, Blind #1 is located on the main entrance road and is marked with signs and has a suitably large parking area within a short walk of the blind. However, if you are coming into the park for the first time that day you must first pay the entrance fee at the park headquarters.

Setup: The three blinds that I've been to are all basically set up the same. There are two benches which are bolted to the floor in front of large plate glass windows. On the right hand side (side closest to the entrance) there is a handicapped access spot in front of an window that can be opened. This is the primary spot to take pictures from. The downside here is that there is no chair to sit in. I strongly recommend bringing your own stool-style chair. I carry a $5 folding stool from Academy that does an awesome job.

Perches/Attractants: There are a number of perches fairly close to the window and fairly close to food sources. A large water feature is towards the back of the setup. Chicken-wire feed stations are scattered throughout--not photographically pleasing but it gets the birds in to hopefully perch where you can use them.

AM/PM: This is an afternoon blind, but in overcast light it is very workable.

Species: Based on just one visit I don't know that I can make a definite species list. There was a wide variety of sparrows and finches the morning I was there, as well as cardinals, towhees, and a couple of hummingbirds. A full species list for the park and surrounding area can be found here.

Lens Requirements:
I had very good luck with a 300mm f4 IS mounted on my Canon 30D. I saw both a 400mm and 500mm used the morning I was there.

Other Photo Ops: As noted, the Walter Buck Wildlife Management Area adjoins the park. In all reality, it dwarfs the park in terms of overall size. Miles of hiking trails are available in the WMA. Three additional blinds are located in the park as well as a number of hiking trails near the South Llano River and Buck lake. Outside of the park there are
additional wildlife viewing possibilities are listed on the Great Texas Trails - Llano Loop page from TWPD.

Image: Northern Cardinal (Male), South Llano River S.P., (c) 2008 Jim Miller

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