March 27, 2014 S. Llano River State Park

Strutting Turkeys
Strutting Turkeys

Finally Some Strutting Tom Turkeys!

Awoke to the usual grey, solid overcast morning, but strangely enough, still no rain. Appears Texas is capable of experiencing an extended drought yet also never seeing the sun, in the winter at least. Was wakened from a sound sleep twice last night by the exceptionally vocal deer in the campground, they let out a vocalization like that of a screaming eagle, probably in response to some perceived threat.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Strutting Turkey
Strutting Turkey
Strutting Turkey
Strutting Turkey
Displaying turkey
Displaying turkey
Displaying turkey
Displaying turkey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Decided to do a road trip north of the park but had my plans changed when I finally ran into some strutting Tom Turkeys on the park road. I had about five minutes with them before a motorhome scared them off the side of the road and sent them running out of range. I turned around and travelled the park road back and forth hoping to see them again, but no such luck.

Wild turkeys
Trouble ahead!
Retreating Turkey
Retreating Turkey
Strutting Turkey
Strutting Turkey

 

 

 

 

 

 

During my time with the turkeys, the sun came out and the temperature started to climb. I stopped at the office to check the forecast and it called for sunny skies and temps in the upper 80’s! With good weather finally here, I decided to stay in the park and do some shooting from the blinds.

Female cardinal bathing
Female cardinal bathing
Northern cardinal bathing
Northern cardinal bathing

These Northern Cardinals really put some effort into their baths.

Chipping sparrow bath
Chipping sparrow bath

As does the Chipping Sparrow.

Lark sparrow
Lark sparrow

The Lark Sparrow was a new bird for me.

Black capped vireo
Black capped vireo

As was this Black-capped Vireo, a federally endangered bird with a sharply declining population due to habitat loss and brown headed cowbird nest parasitism.

Lesser goldfinch
Lesser goldfinch

Another new bird for me was this Lesser Goldfinch, not yet quite displaying the vivid demarcation of yellow and black that will be visible in a few more weeks.

Carolina wren
Carolina wren

Yet another new bird for me was this Carolina Wren, darting in and out so fast as to be almost impossible to catch.

Cedar waxwing
Cedar waxwing
Cedar waxwing
Cedar waxwing

Also making an appearance at the water feature in the Acorn Blind was one of my favorite birds, the Cedar Waxwing.

Audubon warbler
Audubon warbler

Another bird showing up regularly was this Audubon Warbler.

Bathing Inca doves
Bathing Inca doves

I got a kick  out of this Inca Dove going submarine while it’s mate tried to figure out what it was doing.

Inca doves huddling for warmth
Inca dove

These Inca Doves have colorful red/orange wing feathers on the underside and topside of their wings that only show in flight – or if they are trying to dry themselves after a bath.

Inca doves huddling for warmth
Inca dove
Inca doves huddling for warmth
Inca dove

 

 

 

 

 

Serengetti in Texas
Serengetti in Texas

Along the park entrance road there is large high fenced enclosure that gets you to thinking you have arrived on the Serengeti Plains of Africa.

Strutting Turkey
Strutting Turkey
Strutting Turkey
Strutting Turkey
Cedar waxwing
Cedar waxwing

 

 

 

 

Lark sparrow
Lark sparrow

 

 

 

 

Another Neighbor From Hell

A very large motorhome pulled into the space next to me today. This space is at least 100 feet away but there is nothing between us but grass. A really nice, new 45’ Class A. Just a little after it got dark, I had made a drink after concluding a long conversation with my other next door neighbors, and was getting ready to go sit under the stars for a while. One of the nice things about this park is the absence of road or site lighting, you can really enjoy the night sky here when it is clear. Just as I was about to step out the door, a flash of light hit, that I assumed must be a car going through. It wasn’t. The new neighbor had turned on his outside spotlights, THREE high intensity spots on the driver’s side of the coach ( turns out there are three more on the passenger’s side too ), front, mid section, and back, all pointing directly out at the neighbor’s site. And when I say they were bright, I mean I could read a book on my sight, over 100 feet away, with the light from his unit. I went over and knocked on their door to see if I could get them to turn them off so I could sit outside and enjoy a gorgeous starry night, but even though their car was there and the TV was on, no one would answer the door. This was only about 7:30, so I don’t know what they were doing, but they wouldn’t answer the door for the campground host either a few minutes later when I enlisted his help to get the spotlights turned off. So, I had no choice but to go inside, pull all the shades and watch TV instead of the stars. About 9:30, they finally turned the lights off. About 11PM, just after I went to bed, they turned them back on. Nice folks!

March 24, 2014 S. Llano River State Park, Texas

Vermillion flycatcher

                                                                       Vermillion Flycatcher

Very cloudy, cool morning, almost no light to shoot with, so I took a trip into the very depressing looking village of Junction, kind of looks like time has passed this town by. For a community this size they did have a nice newish supermarket right in the center of town with reasonable prices and a pretty good selection of everything one could want. I was actually looking for the library since there is absolutely no Verizon coverage in the campground. Like the supermarket, they have a surprisingly nice library with many computer stations set up for use, so I now can maybe post every few days instead of having it build up over my week’s stay here.

Continued on out to the water treatment plant ponds and found lots of ducks there, but they were mostly all northern shovelers with a teal mixed in here and there. Also checked out the town park along the river and found nothing there and drove the Old Cedar Road, and again, nothing with the exception of a large number of axis deer running through the cedars along the road.

Some kind of African antelope?

Along the campground road there is a fenced field that contains a few exotics, some kind of African antelope?

The primary reason for my visit to this particular park is a chance to get some good shots of strutting Tom Turkeys, but they have not been seen yet. I checked out one of the blinds near the campground, promising when there is some light to shoot with, and walked the River Trail and the Buck Pond Trail and saw nothing other than one nutria on the river bank and one western bluebird, kind of disappointing.

Vermillion flycatcher

There is a Vermillion Flycatcher that I keep seeing flying by my campsite, so in the evening I sat outside with my camera setup and waited, spend 2 1/2 hours and got a couple of shoots of him and of an armadillo hunting around the campsite.

Mulie doe at a gallop

Just about sunset, a steady stream of deer came running along the edge of the campground heading for the river. I assumed they were whitetails, looking into the setting sun at a distance of 200 yards, I was just guessing, until I scoped them and saw there were groups of both Mule deer and Axis deer.

Axis deer doe and fawn

Axis Deer

In addition to Mule deer and Whitetails, there are a large number of exotic Axis deer roaming the park. This is an introduced exotic species that I understand is outcompeting the native deer in a lot of Texas. Though a smallish animal, the males have some pretty impressive antlers.Campground armadillo

This little guy, a nine banded armadillo, makes his appearance around the campsite every afternoon a little before sunset, and proceeds to dig about a million little ankle breaker holes EVERYWHERE in his search for a meal.