Last weekend I made my way back to South Llano River State Park. The plan was to go early in the morning as I had done in the past. Unknown to myself, I had been scheduled for a mid-morning photographic shoot in San Angelo. Given that I couldn't be two places at one time and commitments come before wants & plans, I stuck to the commitment and took care of business. Fun time had...
Okay, so my previously scheduled ends around 11, other small tasks (to include taking advantage of Office Depot's 8Gb Ultra II CF for $24) kept me in town until about 1pm. On the road I go and roll into South Llano River SP around 3pm.
The last time I had been in one of the blinds after 12 o'clock high had been mid-August last year, and even then it had only been to one of the four blinds and on a day that was horribly devoid of light. With clear skies and mild temperatures, I took the opportunity to hit all four of the blinds.
The Reader's Digest version of things is that I can say without a doubt that I'm glad that I found things to take pictures of outside of the bird blinds. I went in reverse order from #4 to #1.
- Blind #4 (Acorn) was mostly under shade when I was shooting (3:15-3:45). Light was good at the back section of the blind (primarily fence area) and the species selection was very light. Mostly sparrows with a couple of dark-eyed juncos. No cardinals and no Wild Turkeys in the blind area. Not a satisfying stop--definitely a much better morning blind.
- Blind #3 (Juniper) was lit up reasonably well, but 420mm effective focal length was not nearly enough to get the job done. This blind was also Cardinal Central as there were probably 2 dozen making the rounds. A 500mm or a 600mm would have probably done some good in this blind, but with the slope down of this blind and no close perches, it was a waste of my time but thankfully only a few frames.
- Blind #2 was reasonably more promising, though admittedly my patience was pretty much shot by that point and I believe mornings may be workable this time of year. Got a couple of decent shots in the blind, to include the Black-crested Titmouse pictured here.
- Blind #1 had serious potential, but again it had been a long day and my fellow travelers by that point were tired of waiting for me so I made it an abbreviated stop. Black-throated Sparrows were the highlight here though there were also plenty of cardinals and other things. Big change with this blind was that the wire cages that "protected" the seed were removed since the last time I was there. I'm hoping this is a permanent thing because it made for more photographic opportunities.
The highlight of the day were of the mammal variety. Specifically Armadillos. Again, I'm not a native so the only armadillos I'd seen prior to this visit were very stationary and had all of the tell-tale signs of having a bad case of P215/70R14 disease. On this trip to the park I saw not one, but two possums on a half-shell. In both cases I had far too much lens to make the images I wanted to, yet at the same time the armadillos were in places where man-made structures conflicted with my attempts to make images. Encounter #1 was down the trail from Blind #3 and yielded the better images (better backgrounds). Encounter #2 was in the parking area just outside of Blind #2. Awesome time had by all.
Black-crested Titmouse, South Llano River State Park, ©2009 Jim Miller
Black-throated Sparrow, South Llano River State Park, ©2009 Jim Miller
Armadillo, South Llano River State Park, ©2009 Jim Miller