Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November 13th Report - South Llano River SP - Acorn Blind

I will rarely complain about getting to spend a day in a bird blind.  And I'm not going to complain about my recent visit to South Llano River State Park's Acorn Blind (aka Blind #4, aka Powered Camping blind).  But honestly the results were marginal to disappointing.

For those of you who have read this blog for a long time, you know hat South Llano River State Park (SLRSP) is one of my favorite places to shoot in blinds.  The four blinds in the park make it easily the single best public property for blinds in the entire state of Texas.  And the Acorn is my favorite because it is the most intimate of the four in the park.

But on this fall morning there was very little that was working.  Part of this is just luck of the draw.  Part of this was my tardiness in arrival.  And part of it illustrates some of the short comings of shooting in a public blind.

First and foremost I did not get into the blind early enough, or as early as the park would allow.  This one is on me.  I probably lost 90 good minutes because of my laziness.  Point accepted.  But even more ideal would be the ability to get into the blind before 8AM.  Unfortunately, unless you are camping in the park the earliest you can get your permit for the day is 8AM.  At private blinds this is not a problem--property owners cater to early arrival because they know it works best for the photographers.

Also, during my time in the blind there was nearly constant stream of foot traffic.  This is good because it shows that people are at least interested in birding and getting kids started at this age leads to the hope that maybe even a small percentage of these will continue with birding and help keep the cycle of funding and blind building going.  But all that traffic never allows the blind to settle and stabilize.  Thus, only the bravest (or hungriest) of the birds venture in.  Needless to say, at private blinds this is not a problem.

What caused this traffic was two things.  First, it was the end of the Veteran's Day holiday weekend and the campgrounds were packed with people.  Second, the trail down to Buck Lake which is normally closed off for Turkey Roosting is now open after 10AM.  Of course, I got there not too much earlier than 10AM so the constant foot traffic down to the trails added to the misery on the day.

I'm hoping in mid to late spring to test the public/private mix at one of the blinds in that area by going to the park one day and to the private blind another day.

But again, I'm not going to complain because even with those issues the bird photography was reasonably good.  Certainly a lot better than still being cooped up in the house post-surgery.

Species spread was narrow.  The birds of the day with the highest population were Field Sparrows and Inca Doves.  The Field Sparrows were a life list add, though that was likely an oversight from previous times.  My other life list add of the day was the Yellow-rumped Warbler.  Only one on the day early in the visit, but images good enough for identification purposes.  Wish it had gotten a little closer to the front, but if wishes were fishes.

Also present were the usual suspects:  Northern Cardinals, Black-crested Titmice, House Finches, Lesser Goldfinches, White-crowned sparrows, and many others.  No woodpeckers, just one White-winged Dove, and Mourning Doves were conspicuously absent from the mix.  There's at least one more sparrow to identify in the mix.

The blind is still in very good shape.  It still has the theater-style padded, folding seating which is only marginally useful for photography.  I spent most of my time at the far side of the blind.  I still need to pick up an appropriate folding chair for the other window.

Total time in the park was about 2 hours.  Fifteen to twenty minutes of that time was spent gingerly walking down the Buck Lake to do some scouting for a different project and hoping to see a water bird or two.  No luck on the water bird, but amazingly enough there were a couple of damselflies on the pond.

All in it was marginal for photography, but still a good visit to the park.

About the Image:
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata), South Llano River SP, Junction, Texas

No comments: