Saturday, May 10, 2014

Bird Blind at Pedernales Falls State Park

After finishing at Warbler Vista in the morning, we decided to take the long way home and see the bird blind setup at Pedernales Falls State Park, about an hours drive south of Balcones looping out west through Marble Falls.  We got there near noon, not the best time for seeing birds.

In the trees around the parking lot were quite a few Bewick's Wren, some singing and some chattering at each other as they hopped frantically from branch to branch. Here is one looking for insects under the tree bark of this Ashe juniper.

Bewick's Wren
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L at ISO-400, 400mm, f/5.6, 1/500s
Danielle created this animated sequence of one of the wrens attempting to wrangle a large caterpillar it had pulled out from the bark.

Bewick's Wren
SX-50 HS - 10 frame animation
The bird-blind itself was very elaborate. There were actually two blinds in the complex, each with enclosed viewing room, natural rock fountain, and various natural perches. Between the two blinds and around the complex were native flower plantings. Danielle took the first photograph outside of the blind complex and the second of one of the natural rock fountains

Initially, we saw only doves, cardinals, and house finches ... in other words, just like our backyard! We also noticed many wasps and bees on the water features and hummingbird feeders. We waited and watched for a couple of hours and our patience was rewarded with some interesting birds and a few good photographs.

This female Ladder-backed Woodpecker came periodically, stopping first at the fountain and then landing on a perch with holes stuffed with what looked like peanut butter. The male came once while we watched.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker Female
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L at ISO-400, 400mm, f/5.6, 1/200s
I was even more surprised when a male Painted Bunting dropped onto the perch right in front of me. It visited several times, also serving itself to the contents of the peanut butter stuffed holes. I did not see it forage for any seeds on the ground. The images are much better than those taken last week at Doeskin Ranch, but these "studio" shots seem less rewarding.

Painted Bunting Male
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L at ISO-400, 170mm, f/6.5, 1/640s
Painted Bunting Male
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L at ISO-400, 170mm, f/6.3, 1/400
Painted Bunting Male
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L at ISO-400, 400mm, f/6.3, 1/250s

A female Painted Bunting, presumably the mate, eventually made a brief appearance.Danielle took this picture while it hopped around the pool. It never came up onto any of the perches.

Painted Bunting Female
Canon SX-50 HS at ISO-100, 215mm, f/6.5, 1/160s
All told, our bird list for the day at the blind included:
  • BEWR - Bewick's Wren
  • RCSP - Rufous-crowned Sparrow
  • WESJ - Western Scrub Jay
  • PABU - Painted Bunting (M,F)
  • LBWO - Ladder-backed woodpecker (M,F)
  • BHCO - Brown-headed Cowbird (M)
  • BCHU - Black-chinned Hummingbird (M)
  • NOCA - Northern Cardinal (M,F)
  • HOFI - House Finch (M,F)
  • CACH - Carolina Chickadee
  • LASP - Lark Sparrow
  • WWDO -White-winged Dove
  • NOMO - Northern Mockingbird
  • GRRO - Greater Roadrunner - along the drive into the park
We were also visited by a group of three juvenile Armadillos rooting in the dirt and reaching up onto the lower water features for a drink. Reminded me of the three Javelina that visited the bird blind at Ft. Davis State Park.

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L at ISO-400, 330mm, f/5.6, 1/500s

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