Wednesday, May 21, 2014

South Llano River SP: Day 2 (Morning)

Saturday morning I did a little birding at the motel while Dee was getting ready. 

Barn Swallows were flying in and out of nests along the building's walls. 

More than a hundred Black Vultures streamed overhead as they left their roost on a nearby cellphone tower. Northern Mockingbirds, Northern Cardinals and Verdins were giving the day a noisy greeting, while the utility lines and the scrub below them had four types of Dove: Mourning, White-winged (below), Eurasian Collared and Inca. 

A Lark Sparrow was having breakfast silhouetted against the moon.

Prickly pear cactuses were in bloom, as were coneflowers.

On the way to the state park, we did a quick drive around the city park in Junction. A male Vermilion Flycatcher was one of very few birds in view.

Our attention was captured by a black squirrel. That's certainly a species we don't see around Houston.

We reached the state park headquarters at 8:15, having had to stop along the entrance road to admire jackrabbits and deer.

The martin houses held a few Purple Martins in addition to many House Sparrows.

After registering, we were faced with the dilemma that faces all birders at the park: Do you go out on the trails and look for some of the rarer birds that inhabit the area, or do you sit in one of the blinds, where you are guaranteed to see a succession of beautiful (but predictable) birds coming to eat and/or bathe? As Dee and I are primarily birdwatchers rather than birders, we opted for the blinds.

We started at the Agarita Blind, hoping for some different species than those we had seen the previous day. As it turned out, we saw more of the same birds. Male and female Painted Buntings were very much in evidence. There were also plenty of Black-crested Titmice, Lark Sparrows and Field Sparrows.

Of course, there were also plenty of more common birds, such as House Finches and Northern Cardinals.

 Since we weren't seeing a good variety of birds, we walked over to the Acorn Blind to see if that was attracting some more interesting birds. On the way we stopped to admire the singing of a male Painted Bunting on a treetop.

Before we even entered the Acorn Blind, we spotted a young Vermilion Flycatcher on a fence wire.

The blind gave us excellent views of Lark Sparrows.

A single Lesser Goldfinch appeared for a moment and then was gone. Surprisingly, it was the only one we saw on our trip.

There were male and female Painted Buntings galore.

More common birds included House Finches, Northern Cardinals, White-winged Doves and Common Cowbirds (female below).

A couple of Black-chinned Hummingbirds came in to bathe, while a Western Scrub-Jay scattered all the other birds as it flew in to feed.

Just when we were ready to take a break, there was a loud hammering on the wall of the blind. I went to check it out, hoping for a Golden-fronted Woodpecker. It was another (male) Ladder-backed Woodpecker.

When it saw me, it flew onto the fence surrounding the feeder area, where Dee was able to get a good look at it.

Late morning we headed back to Junction for an excellent brunch at Isaack's. 

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