Monday, July 28, 2008

The Bird Blind at Pedernales Falls State Park

I got to the bird blind late this afternoon (I had mundane duties at the RV that I needed to do - plus birding is better later in the afternoon than in the heat of the day . . . ) While I have visited Pedernales Falls State Park many times, it has also been a very long time. The bird blind is new since I was here last. Turns out it was built around ten years ago - so sad that it has been so long since I've been here!

I walked over quietly carrying my big lens, its big tripod, my binoculars, my bird book and my water bottle. It is a short walk - easy to do even in the heat of the summer carrying gear. It is big, wooden, covered and has a large mostly plexiglass window so you can really get a good view of the birds. On each end, there are wooden shutters that reveal openings large enough for lenses and cameras. There is a big box fan as well, but since I want to hear any bird songs, I was not interested in turning it on. There is a large picnic table with a flip book with photos of birds that you are likely to see as well a spiral to record which birds you see. That comes in handy for looking back and seeing what other (possibly more experienced birders) have been seeing. There are also some comfortable benches with backs that I enjoyed using. Each end of the building is open to give some ventilation and the possibility of hearing the bird song. It is large enough for a group of birders to feel comfortable. But, enough about the structure . . .

When I looked out that plexiglass window, I knew I was in for a treat! There was a raccoon on the far end - he heard me and quickly left. There were birds flittering all over the small yard. One of the first ones I picked out with my binoculars turned out to be a female painted bunting! I saw a number of those come and go. There was a hummingbird feeder. I'm not good at identifying the females that were coming in, but before long, a male came in - based on how black the head and neck were (and the useful journal of what others have been seeing) I could safely say, black chinned hummingbird.

Northern cardinals, carolina chickadees and titmice -both black crested and tufted were visiting the various feeders. And what wonderful feeders - I had heard about using natural materials to create feeders but I had not really seen this kind of setup close up. They used old tree roots, old tree trunks, and gnarled driftwood and had food in the cracks and crevices. So when I pull the camera out and start my photography, the photos will appear natural with natural perches.

The area was enclosed by stacks of trimmed cedar branches - creating a boundary for the feeding area, but also natural places for the birds to perch and hide. On the far end are several water features - a water drip, a misting area and a still pool.

In one of the nearby trees, I saw a blue gray gnatcatcher working its way through the branches. A male ladder backed woodpecker came over to check out the holes in one of the feeder tree trunks. Before long a female visited and got her evening meal.

What a delightful way to spend the evening - I almost felt like I was in heaven!

My list for the day:
painted bunting - female
Northern cardinals - male, female, juvenile
wren - probably Bewicks
Carolina chickadees
Black crested titmouse
tufted titmouse
ladder backed woodpecker - male and female
mourning dove
house finch
black chinned hummingbird - male and female

And a raccoon - both at the beginning and the end.

Photos tomorrow!

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