Birding San Angelo State Park


I have never published a post about mine and Ann’s daily trip to the State Park.  Since there is no one presently at the park that really wants to take on the task, we have volunteered to go each day to feed the birds at the blind, and do moderate  maintenance such as weeding, checking the water flow to the pond, etc.  We also clean the windows and watch that the blind hasn’t been invaded by snakes or bees.

Painted Bunting

Since we live only three miles away, it is a snap to go there each morning to take care of those things.  We usually go after breakfast, but we are authorized to go in the gate earlier if we so desire.  It is fun to get there and see what might surprise us upon arrival.  Usually it is just an assortment of hungry doves or finches, but occasionally we have sneaked in to see other wildlife.  A few days ago there was a Wild Turkey, trailed by three chicks beating us there.  On another occasion, I walked back around the fence and almost stepped upon an Opossum.  He was a cutie.  We’ve also seen Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes moving about on the path that leads back to the blind.

Javelina

After taking care of our chores at the blind, instead of heading back to the house, we stay at the blind for a short time to see what comes in.  Then we usually take a slow drive through the park to see the birds that don’t usually frequent the blind, such as hawks and water birds.  We prepare ourselves for surprises and we are usually rewarded. 

fledgling Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

For example, the past few mornings, we have come across a Painted Bunting singing in the top of a tree, two fledgling Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, five Ash-throated Flycatchers, Lark Sparrows, Western Kingbirds, one Blue Grosbeak, one Common Nighthawk with two chicks, at least six Mississippi Kites, one Fox, one White-tailed Deer and two Javelinas.  Plus the usual sparrows, grackles, etc. 

Purple Martin

At the lake shore, albeit a very small coastline now, you can see shorebirds, Blue Herons, Egrets. or American White Pelicans.  A Snowy Plover recently laid two eggs on the parking lot at the Red Arroyo boat ramp.  We have been keeping tabs on the eggs, but I fear that the eggs have been abandoned.  We haven’t seen the parents in about two weeks.  They probably realized, too late, that the surface that they decided to lay the eggs on can get very, very hot.

Snowy Egret

The bird blind itself, can also be very rewarding.  You can sit in comfort and and watch through the windows.  Open them for fresh air if you like.  It was actuallly there at the blind, a couple of years ago,  that I actually got hooked on birding and bird photography.  I photographed my very first Painted Bunting and Canyon Wren there.  At the time I didn’t know how unusual it was to see a Canyon Wren at that location. 

Canyon Wren

So come to San Angelo State Park for a nice pleasant birding experience.

Happy Birding!!  (click on any photograph for an enlargment)

A few more pictures.


Black-crested Titmouse

Ann and I just got back from Christoval and we just about got blown off the road.  The temperature is 83 degrees but the wind is about 30 mph, making for some hard driving.  I had to go to the Hummer House and check out my inventory, to see if and what I had sold during the winter months.  By the look of the shelves, maybe I had better go into another line of work. 🙂 

If you’re new to the area, the Hummer House is a little bed and breakfast

Northern Cardinal

 place about a mile south of Christoval on Toenail Trail.  It is also a Humming Bird refuge, hence the name.  A great place to stay, nevertheless, if you want to get away for a night or two.   The humming birds will start arriving there in early to mid-March.  But right now you can see White-tailed Deer, Wild Turkey, and various birds.  This is a good time to watch the turkeys, as they are starting  to strut for the ladies.

Lesser Goldfinch

Before we left we stopped at the San Angelo State Park and checked on the birds at the blind.  Looks like they are getting fed regularly.  While there we saw a few Black-crested Titmice, Red-winged Blackbirds, and a bunch of finches.  I think most of the bird population was hunkered down out of the wind.

I am getting spring fever with the warm days arriving.  But I am sure it will be short lived as I know we are still in store for more cold weather, at least for another month or so.

I am adding three more pictures here that I took earlier in the week.  Hope you enjoy.

By the way, if you click on any photo you can see an enlarged image.

More photos visit www.zellertexasphotos.com

Happy Birding!!

The Hummer House


Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

If you are thinking that this place is for a chorus that doesn’t know the words, you are wrong.  The Hummer House is a quaint bed and breakfast located at Christoval, Texas.  Well, actually it is about a mile outside of Christoval, which is about twenty miles south of San Angelo, Texas.

I spent part of the day there yesterday.  It is part of the Brown Ranch, owned by Dan and Cathy Brown.  It is aptly named for the proliferation of various Hummingbird species that reside there in season.  That would be from about mid-March until late September.  Dan and Cathy put out a couple dozen hummingbird feeders. and the hummingbirds return each year to this refuge.  Also other bird species and wildlife abound there.  Deer and wild turkey are regular visitors every evening. 

There is a bird viewing room that measures about 25 feet long with a large

Painted Bunting

Painted Bunting

window over-looking the feeders and a small pond.  It will seat about 40 people, either spectators that like to watch, or photographers.  I am one of the latter and this is one of my favorite places to spend time with my cameras.

The viewing area is open to the public, for a small fee.  Guests of the bed and breakfast can use it at no charge.  But you must call ahead or you won’t able to get through the gate.  Because of the popularity of the place, Dan and Cathy were forced to lock the gate and put a key-pad on it.  When you make your reservation to visit the viewing area, they will furnish you  the number.

The guest quarters consist of three separate cottages.  The Hummer House that accomodates 4-6 adults, The Lodge for 8-10 adults, and The Hideway, a romantic little place for 1-2 guests.  All are luxurously appointed and stocked with basic cooking ingredients, breakfast foods, fresh fruit, etc.  My wife, Ann, and I stay there 2-3 times a year.

Because of the high population of hummingbirds and other species, it is a popular place for the people that do bird-banding.  Literally thousands of birds are banded there every year.  Bird-banding is done to keep up with the immigration habits of different bird species.

So for a great birding experience, in the air-conditioned comfort of this wonderful place, check it out.

Happy Birding!!

See more photos at www.zellertexasphotos.com

San Angelo State Park


Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

Since I do a large percent of my birding and photography at San Angelo State Park, I feel compelled to tell a little bit about it.  I imagine a large percentage of you readers have never heard of it, let alone visit it.

White-tailed Deer

White-tailed Deer

It was created in 1952 when O. C. Fisher Dam and Reservoir were completed for flood control.  In 1995 it was officially opened as San Angelo State Park.  It is comprised of 7,677 acres, mostly undeveloped land.  But the developed part is a gem. 

IMG_4660_blog_sasp

Picnic site

There you can find wildlife of all types, white-tailed deer,  rattlesnake, javelina, bobcat, porcupine, jackrabbits, prairie dogs, and many more than I have space to list.  There is a herd of bison, and part of the Official Texas State Longhorn Herd  resides there. 

Painted Bunting

Painted Bunting

Did I mention that there many types of birds in the park.  There are 356 species of birds in the Concho Valley and you can see most of them in the park at various times of the year.

Also available are many campsites, some dry camps, other full-featured hook-ups.  Picnic tables abound for the day-trippers.  Air-conditioned cabins are for rent for visitors who don’t happen to own an RV or other camping gear.

Air-conditioned Cabin

Air-conditioned Cabin

Kurt Kemp and his staff do a wonderful and efficient job of maintaining the numerous areas of the park.  At the South Entrance gate-house you can find maps, souvenirs, and get park information.

Plans for the future include additional bird-blinds for the birding enthusiast and bird photographers.  An amphitheater is under construction, and when completed, it will be available for outdoor events, including weddings.

So all in all, I would say that the future of San Angelo State Park looks rosy indeed.  Now if only we could get a little more rain on the North Concho River water-shed, the level of the lake would rise.  Then we could make use of the many boat ramps that are currently hundreds of yards from the shoreline.  At that time, boating can truly be added to the already long list of activities for park visitors.

In birding news, I and Gary Lindahl, saw our first Purple Finch this morning.

Happy Birding!!

For more photos visit www.zellertesasphotos.com