Peacock

Peacock
Peacock

Monday, May 6, 2013

Saying Goodbye at South Llano River State Park

I need to be at Bison Range National Wildlife Refuge by Thursday, May 11, so I can have a day of training before helping with the Migration Day on Saturday.

But I HAD to spend four days with friends at South Llano River State Park, one of our best Texas birding sites and on one of my favorite rivers before I left.  This is another traditional trip that happens the first weekend in May to take advantage of the peak of migration and the river in new spring garb.

Bill and Bob getting organized Friday morning
I've had a wonderful time with old friends and friends I've recently met, including Bill and Carol, who I spent a week with at Yellowstone National Park last fall.  She was doing here last hurrah also and left for Rocky Mountain National Wildlife Refuge where she volunteers each summer.

Bell's Vireo sing their chattering song only around the campground area
I managed to bird all four of  the blinds and several of the areas that hold large concentrations of birds, hike seven miles with Bill, enjoy a couple of evening fires and a group supper and finally, get in a short paddle. Natalie had two dogs and we couldn't take them on the river, so I babysat them Saturday while she paddled and she babysat them Sunday, while I paddled.

A female painted bunting getting her morning drink
A black throated sparrow

Even though I've been coming to this park at least once a year for many years, I still had never hiked up to the overlook.  And I hadn't hike the trails in several years.  So it was fun to discover new parts of the park. Bill and I hikeed the perimeter of the park for about seven miles.  But, since we had also wandered around for about two hours birding, and I had visited back and forth, and done lots of miscellaneous walking, I managed to walk over twelve miles on Friday, according to my step meter. And, on the hike,  we saw a porcupine and the biggest armadillo we'd ever seen, both firsts for me at this park.

An old porcupine 

A view of the old  wildlife management area, now park where most of the trails are

A mimosa species in bloom

Big armadillo
Baby sitting dogs - It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it 
Sunday I got up at 5:00 A.M. so I could get all my packing done before daylight. I almost made it.  The last two stars blinked out as I was stuffing my tent into it's bag. I grabbed a quick breakfast of leftover tabbouleh from our group meal, threw my paddling stuff in Bob's car since Bill decided to not stress his ailing shoulder any more, and told Bob and Natalie I would meet them at the put-in which was the low water bridge in the park. I gathered up my tea, camera, and binoculars and set off.

There are hundreds of black-chinned hummingbirds in the park

There were still a few lark sparrows coming to the feeders
After a few minutes of solo birding, I  met up with several other friends also birding.  The birds were especially hot and we were finding lots of new species. We had orchard orioles, ladderback woodpeckers, blue grosbeaks, chipping sparrows, wood peewee, red-eyed vireo, yellow-billed cuckoo, a vermilion flycatcher, and other birds, including the ever present pine siskins and painted buntings. I had to tear myself away and rush the last half mile to get to the put-in in time.

We had lots of painted buntings around all the bird blinds
We had a beautiful short paddle.  More on that next blog. By the time we finally tore ourselves away from the last of the group, it was 2;00.  Then we had a seven hour drive back to Seabrook an , after several minutes of transferring my stuff, I had another half hour drive to Houston.  After getting my dirty clothes washing, I had to write this blog.

Now it's Monday and I am just getting all the pictures in this blog and will leave for Montana in a few hours.  I'll not blog again until sometime next week.  But I'll get you pictures of  our paddle then and will have lots to tell you about my 2000 mile trip, provided I survive doing it in four days, and the new refuge.

I'll be in Texas until sometime tomorrow when I cross the line into Oklahoma   A few minutes after that, I'll be in Colorado. I hope to get to explore a little of LBJ Grasslands this evening, provided I can get moving.