So with no internet, no television and very poor cell phone service the last few days at South Llano River State Park in Junction, Texas we decided to take in all that the park had to offer. There are a lot of bike and hike trails and one well planned interpretive trail with markers describing the plants growing adjacent to the trail. A few plaques were missing and we fear the Texas drought no doubt took its toll on a few of the plants.
One morning we decided to do a little mountain biking so we set off on a 2-3 hour loop that took us along the park’s boundary and into a neat area with a nice limestone bluff. The trail was tough as it was mostly composed of very loose pieces of limestone making the riding a bit treacherous. Add in a couple of really steep inclines and needless to say when we were finished we had gotten much more of a workout than we had originally planned.
On the hottest day we joined many of our fellow visitors over to the South Llano river to wade in the cool, clear waters. It was fun to watch a group of boy scouts pass by in canoes and families on their yellow rental tubes ($5.00 for the day at the park office) floating by. We laughed with one couple as their schnauzer seemed to love swimming and couldn't stay out of the water for long.
As with our stay near Canyon Lake the deer were plentiful and paraded through the campground each and every morning. I saw lots of rabbits and squirrels as well. We even had a family of ground squirrels near our campsite so as I sipped my coffee in the morning I watched the three “children” wrestle and play near their well built home in the ground.
But I would be remiss if I did not mention that we found this to be the best birding park we have been to in Texas with the exception of the one in Mission, Texas. When we first arrived here we took a spot that was being “guarded” by a Vermillion Flycatcher. I later discovered that their was a nesting pair here when I saw a fledgling fall out of its nest. Then I noticed both mother and father actively feeding it while it remained flightless on the ground. Not sure if the fledgling made it through the night but I sure hope so…
They are three or four superbly set up bird blinds allowing visitors a “bird’s eye” view of a wide range of bird species. It is a wonderful place to see some of the most colorful birds in North America . What did we see? We saw tons of the most beautiful bird (in my opinion) in the USA, the Painted Buntings. They are plentiful and easy to photograph either in the bird blinds, in the campground or along the trails. We also saw the Vermillion Flycatcher, the Indigo Bunting, Summer Tanager’s, Yellow Breasted Chats and beautiful Scrub Jays. I was happy to see the rare Black Capped Flycatchers here in their native habitat, though I found they are nearly impossible to photograph.
Each afternoon those last few days we spent about 30-45 minutes at a nearby McDonalds using their free WIFI. Well nearly free as we decided it was a good idea to enjoy a chocolate sundae while catching up on all the world’s goings on and to plan for our next destination (where we are right now)… San Angelo State Park!