My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Campout at South Llano River State Park

South Llano River State Park is one of my favorite places to camp,  paddle, hike and birdwatch.  A group of friends to share all these activities with makes it all the more fun.

I'll paddle on Sunday, so watch for a blog about that in the future. But I've been birdwatching hard, at the four blinds, around the campground and on the trails. Wildflowers are in bloom and butterflies abound.  Birds are gobbling up caterpillars and bugs and coming to bath in the waterfalls.  Everything is greening up, even the pokey pecan trees.

Friday,  I logged over nine miles on my stepmeter, about seven of that from actual hiking, with frequent stops to admire the wildflowers, listen and look for birds, chase down chats, and to sneak up on butterflies. I also stopped at two blinds. The day before, I got to see the black-capped vireo without my camera. Saturday, Linda and I were the only ones who didn't paddle - I don't want to have to do any heavy steering and there are a few patches of whitewater to navigate - so we went birding all morning. She first took me to the blind where she had photographed the Hutton's vireo but I haven't gotten to see it.  We spent several hours walking the trails and enjoying the indigo buntings, six vermillion flycatchers, some in pairs, three swamp sparrows, a pretty rare sparrow here, and a black-tailed gnatcatcher.  We finally got to Agarita Blind to look for the black-capped vireo and  found people in the path watching for him. We stayed with them for a while and learned it's song, then started to walk to the blind.  Linda went back to pick up her camera and I watched a little bird fly into an oak just outside the blind area.  He landed on a bare limb and I quickly got my binoculars on him. He was a black-capped vireo singing. But he flew before I could get my camera on him and then flew further away, still calling, as Linda got back to me. We watched for him until we got too hot and hungry but plan to go back again this (Saturday) afternoon.

Oh yes, when I first saw the black-capped vireo, I was in the company of Greg Miller, the poor birder in the book, the Big Year. He was a guest speaker and tour guide at  Wings over the Hills, a birding festival happening this weekend in Fredericksburg, Texas. He came with a tour from the festival about 5 minutes after I saw the vireo. He's a super, laid-back, friendly and helpful person.

Evenings are devoted to group suppers within our cooking group with neighboring camping friends stopping by. Saturday night is a full group meal. Four of us are supplying pulled pork.  I'm the official cook and it is cooking in a crock pot. After I get this blog ready to post - I have to go to the Junction Library to get wi-fi - I'll go back and remove it from all the grease, then shred it and put in back in the pot with Pat's homemade BBQ sauce.  Should be delicious.

We usually come here the first week in May and the most abundant and in-your-face bird is the Bell's vireo which nests here. They are already here, singing incessantly.

The Bell's vireo who owns my camping site. I think the wing thing is part of his display. 

My friend, Pat and I went on a short hike yesterday before I did several more hours of hiking/birding and he went mountain biking. 
One of at least fifty summer tanagers - they are almost always within sight or hearing

Early morning view up the South Llano River

A black-crested titmouse is using up all the bathwater, according to the screaming pine siskin.

This area has lots of mesquite trees and they are blooming - great for bugs and the birds that eat them

A white-crowned sparrow - one of only a few still here

One of the sulphur butterflies on the abundant verbena

A bathing painted bunting looks more like a submarine

I found only this one group of these beautiful flowers - the cloudy day was perfect to
photograph white 

Another weedy flower I love

Linda watching for the return of the black-capped vireo by the Agrita Blind
Axis deer, imported from India, have escaped and live in the park

There are only a few chipping sparrows left
Lark sparrows are very common here 

Great crested flycatcher

Black-tailed gnatcatcher 

Just another bather - this a Nashville Warbler