Home > Birding > Memorial Day Weekend Travels

Memorial Day Weekend Travels

The Friday and Saturday before Memorial day we received about 4.5 inches of rain. I had hopes this would be good for birding and decided to visit at least two State Parks, Pedernales and Blanco. I used Jim’s map to figure out what was nearby. There was another location I looked at, but for the life of me I can’t find it on the map. I considered spending the night at the Best Western in Blanco to cover even more ground, but rates were so high on a holiday weekend that it wasn’t worth it.

Black-chinned Hummingbird (male)

As is the norm, I got a late start and there were quite a few people in line when I got to Pedernales. The birding was pretty bland unfortunately. The only decent photos were of a male Black-chinned Hummingbird that perched nicely for me (see above). I gave up after an hour and switched to photographing the flowers, in the (newly expanded?) butterfly garden, such as the every-present Texas Thistle.

Texas Thistle

I had much better luck here and finally got to use my new tripod, a Redged RTT-423. It is very difficultfor me to find a 4-section tripod that’s cheap. Mostly because I want one that collapses to a small size. Everyone says to just buy an expensive tripod and be done with it, but that just doesn’t work for me when it comes to tripods. Overall, it is an excellent tripod, with one terrible flaw. The reversible mounting screw is terrible. You know, the important part that attaches to the head or camera. The actual screw is not fixed to the platform. This leads to a big mess of three different things you have to get to cooperate with each other. I spent awhile mucking about with them and came up something semi-decent. I later came home and screwed around with it for awhile longer and finally got something that worked. They could learn a thing from Manfrotto whose system works great. I digress.

Caterpillar

By the way, I managed to identify all the flowers in my gallery except one. If you know what the following is, please let me know in the comments.

2013-05-26_JD_0093

For a relatively poor wildflower season, I was pleased with the selection available in the park. I don’t think I’ve ever seen (or noticed) Butterfly Weed before:

Butterfly Weed

Amazingly, all the rain meant Pedernales Falls actually had… Falls! Swimming was off-limits and at least one officer was stationed there to keep an eye on people. Running water is a rare and welcome sight here.

Pedernales Falls

Pretty hungry by now, I headed off. I spied a Roadrunner on the park road, but my camera was in the trunk (again). Gone by the time I fetched it, of course. I soon found myself at Blanco, which was only 25 minutes away; who knew?! I stopped at the local Dairy Queen (Orange Julius!) before heading to the park, which was across the street. The bridge that takes you to the other side of the park where the bird blind is was closed (to foot traffic?) due to the flooding, but they said driving was ok. With some trepidation I drove across and did in fact, get to the other side. Whew.

The park is pretty small, and the blind, smaller. It reminds me of the Abilene blind, but more compact. There are so many trees around it, I am tempted to say this is more of a mid-day blind, otherwise you won’t get light. I didn’t have a true wide-angle lens on me, but here is a picture from inside.

Blanco State Park

There were your standard issue Texas birds, nothing of interest. Instead I continued walking to the west end of the park. There I spotted my most interesting birds of the day. From a distance the first appeared to be an Eastern Phoebe that had captured the biggest caterpillar-looking thing I have ever seen, probably 3 inches long. At the edge of the park is a road bridge where dozens of swallows were flying around. I crossed under the bridge hoping to find some herons, but instead found the swallow nests. I am very curious as to why all the nests were on the same side of the bridge (west).

Cliff Swallows

Because swallows are so fast, it took some patience to get a decent photo. But I perserved and identified what I believe is my first Cliff Swallow.

Cliff Swallow

A light sprinkle showed up so I headed back towards my car. I stopped for a couple of more photos first.

Blanco State Park

While I don’t think this is my first Bordered Patch, it’s definitely my best photo.

Bordered Patch

A decent day, though not really what I was expecting. It was nice to go someplace new (Blanco), even though I don’t plan on returning at this point. On the drive back I got caught in a torrential downpour. I am just glad I wasn’t out wandering in the park when it hit. These are probably my last photos until cooler weather arrives.

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Categories: Birding Tags: ,
  1. July 1, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    Nice shots and thanks again for the shout-out with the blind map. There is another park near Johnson City called Pedernales River Nature Park. It is an LCRA activity. I’ve meant to go up there a couple of times, but something always seems to happen to scuttle my plans. Heck, I haven’t been up to Pedernales Falls SP since early March.

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