South Llano River State Park, Texas.

On my drive to San Antonio back on May 3rd I had wanted to find somewhere to stop and look for Scissor-tailed Flycatchers.  I saw a bunch of recent sightings on eBird near a town called Junction, and so when I saw a sign for South Llano River State Park at the Junction exit I decided to check it out.  I stepped out of the car into the wall of humidity that I had not experienced in AZ and NM and looked up to see a bird fly from one tree to another.

HOLY crap it was a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher!!!!!

I was beyond stoked.  Oh and wait, what's that lurking in the tree next to him?  A Bronzed Cowbird, another lifer...

I didn't have much time because I was trying to make it to Enigma & Mystery's house, but I took a quick walk around with the dogs.  We found this snake swimming in the river:

I sent photos of this snake over to native Texan Rhett Wilkins who ID'ed it as a non-venomous but still bad-ass Blotched Water Snake.  This park is very popular with swimming kids and folks on tubes but after seeing that snake, I'm not sure I'd be too psyched to jump in there.

This park seemed to have great potential so I made plans to visit again on my return trip from San Antonio, which I did.  I didn't make it there till about 11:30 so it was nothing short of uber-hot.  I stopped by the visitor center to pay for a day pass and asked the lady for bird recommendations.  She said oh, do you want to see the Painted Buntings?  I nearly fell down because I had not expected such a question.  YES.  YES I DO.

She pointed out the bird blind locations on a map and I took off with the dogs to the nearest one.  I learned these bird blinds are fancy- complete with a little building with seating, and outside a water feature and feeders.  Awesome.

My first new bird of the day was a Black-throated Sparrow that came by for some splashing...

I was thrilled to finally see one, only to come home to Portland and learn there was a couple found in Troutdale (aka Troutagonia).  I went to see one on Saturday:

Anyway, back to Texas.  The sparrow was joined soon after by a female Painted Bunting!

She got down and dirty in the water (down and clean?):

Who knew all those colors were lurking in her feathers??  A male bunting eventually took her place...

Later on I saw a few more at a different bird blind..

Crazy birds.  Back at the first blind an Orchard Oriole came by for a visit.

I walked the dogs along some of the different trails but they weren't really up for too much of a walk, understandably.  We found some cute little lizards like this guy:

I think it's a Texas spotted whiptail.  Good stuff.  Unfortunately this park also had ticks and Jake picked up a lone star tick.  Okay, that's about it for the park... Only one more post from this trip to go!


  1. WOW! Those buntings look completely made up (hence their name?) =) As IF birds have colors that bright and varied. How exciting for you! Excellent work. Now I want to build an uber bird blind for our property!

  2. Awesome Jen! Scissor-Tails are one of my all-time favorites, and Painted Buntings are nothing to sneeze at either!

    By fun coincidence, I was in Dallas this past weekend and saw my first ever Painted Buntings too, and needless to say chased after the awesome Scissor-Tails.

    What a great way to wind down the trip!
    Well done.

    1. Nice- congrats on your lifer! Thanks for the kind words too.

  3. Scissor-tails are always worth the humidity of the southern Great Plains! They were the best part of living in Oklahoma.

  4. Awesome sightings. I love the muted colors on the female bunting :)

  5. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and Painted Buntings?! Holy crap is right! Sweet photos... Remind me to never get in the water if you're around, you seem to attract the slithery swimmers.

    1. Haha I will never go swimming down there, that's for sure!

  6. Jen, awesome birds and a great report on your visit to the park. The Painted Buntings are beautiful birds. The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is a cool bird to see. I like the lizards too but the snake I could do without. Great sightings and Happy Birding.

  7. OH----- NOW IM I have been trying for a couple yrs now to catch up with the Painted Bunting (That come right here to SC)...and nada as of yet...I seem to always justttt miss it. Congrats on such a fruitful trip!! We will get the final tally after the last post? Im curious!! The Humid has not even begun, come back in August~I really have high hopes of seeing the Bunting this yr...this is my yr to have everything do a 180 so should see it. Your photos are super as always, hope you got that Tick off....I found one on my LEG after a hike last week. Got it early tho it hadnt attached.

    1. Yeah, ticks are gnarly... I plucked the one off Jake with some nail clippers but it had already done some chowing. I'm sure this is the year for you to find the buntings!


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