Friday, March 28, 2008


Check this guy out! We spied him on our evening walk at South Llano River State Park as he waddled through the grass grubbing for dinner. An armadillo is no doubt a common sight for a Texan, but magical to us west coasters.

This is our third visit to South Llano River State Park (read our campground review here), about ten miles off I-10 south of Junction, Texas - 299 miles from our last campground. Ugh, that is way too long a drive, but there are so few places worth stopping in West Texas - the state parks being among the few.

Somewhere in that long, long ride, we crossed an invisible climate boundary, going from the clear, sunny, warm days (around 80) and cold nights (near freezing) of Davis Mountain State Park to a humid cloud cover that descended long before we reached South Llano River State Park. Here, the rivers have water! Here, we can pet Luna without sparks of static electricity flying!

South Llano River State Park is a birder’s paradise. On the long drive into the park from the main road, Vermillion Flycatchers and Cardinals flitted back and forth across the road.

The park office is in an old building, typical ranch style with a wide veranda that runs the length of the front of the building. Three hummingbird feeders drew so many hummers it seemed we were dodging darts as we ran up the stairs and through the front door.

The park is huge, bordered on one side by the lovely, clear, South Llano River. The river floods periodically, creating a wide, fertile “river bottom” filled with native pecan trees and oaks, cactus, yucca, and native grasses. All the hiking trails in the river bottom area are closed during turkey nesting season (sometime between October and April) - the trees here have provided a wild turkey rookery for over 100 years for up to 800 Rio Grande turkeys each year.

After we arrived last night and again before we left this morning, we walked the trails through the pecan trees down to the river. Deer bounded through the underbrush in every direction. Turkeys gobbled nearby, and we saw a Tom strutting his stuff to the hens who passed him by. In a couple months, the hens will be nesting - this "strut" display is their chance to identify the superior Tom.

Our drive today was blessedly short, under 100 miles, to the southeast. We are parked in a site overlooking the Rio Frio, near Concan, Texas, settled in for 3 nights. As I write, it is 8:30 pm, dark, humid, and around 75 degrees. Quite a change from yesterday's sweatshirt weather!

1 comment:

  1. What's amazing to me is that you got a LIVE picture of that Armadillo! Usually, when we spot them, they are already dead on the side of the road...

    Hugs, Sharon & Ron