Thursday, May 15, 2008

Initial Description - South Llano River S.P. Blind #2

I had the good fortune to visit South Llano River State park on April 17th and followed-up with a 2nd visit on May 8th. As was the case the first time, park staff & volunteers were very friendly.

This is the 2nd of 4 entries on this park to go with the 4 blinds that are in the park. I made it to blind #4 on this last visit and that one will be just a little different from the rest. More to come.

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 #2 is located just off of the main entrance road before you get to the park headquarters. The trail leading to the blind is marked with a sign and a suitably large paved 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: This blind was set up very much like the first. 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. Unlike Blind #1, this one had a small chair placed at the window. However, for my style of photography it was awkward to sit in. Also, Blind #2 also has a wooden fence just outside of the blind with openings of various sizes that will easily allow you to poke your lens through, increasing the photographic possibilities.

Perches/Attractants: There are very few natural looking perches close to this blind's opening. There is a log in front of the water feature, but I found it to be too far away to provide the intimacy with the subjects that I would have liked. There are a couple of perchable trees and one semi-perch with better background than the one log, but this is one thing that could be improved on this blind. Again, the caveat is that these blinds were primarily setup for birders and not for photographers so I'm not complaining, just offering constructive advice to entice other photographers to come in.

AM/PM: This is probably better as an afternoon blind. As logistics would have it, I again was there in the morning and got some workable shots. It may have even been more workable as the morning went on, but I only spent about an hour at this blind because I was in search of the elusive blind #4. But late afternoon would probably be better.

Species: In my hour in this blind on my 2nd visit I saw the following species: Northern Cardinal (M/F), Painted Bunting (M/F), Wild Turkey (M/F), Black-Tufted Titmouse, Pine Siskin, House Finch, House Sparrow, Black-Throated Sparrow, White-Winged Dove, Inca Dove, and Lark Sparrow. In a previous visit to the blind I also saw a couple of White Tailed Deer. Again, 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. A longer lens would have been helpful, especially given how far back the perches were from the blind.

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: Black-throated Sparrow, South Llano River S.P., (c) 2008 Jim Miller


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting all this info. It is very helpful. I hope to make it out to Llano this weekend. I'd very much like to see a painted bunting and get some hummingbird photos as well.

jim said...

You're welcome. Happy shooting -jim