Visitors to Blanco State Park will soon be able to take advantage of a new structure for wildlife viewing and enjoyment. Construction will begin in February and should be completed by the end of March. The facility is designed for viewing and photographing birds and other wildlife and will also be used as on outdoor classroom by park personnel.
Mary Alice Partain, Blanco State Park Interpretive Ranger, stated the following: “This new structure will be a significant asset to the park. Visitors will have a chance to see and photograph local birds at a very close range. New birders will be able to hone their identification skills. Experienced birders will have a chance to spot new birds and help Blanco State Park keep track of bird populations. I am excited about the opportunity to hold programs there, especially with children. Being able to examine a wild creature at such close range without affecting its behavior brings up so many questions and instills such wonder in the larger world. It can improve observation skills and knowledge of local species and is a fantastic opportunity for visitors to Blanco State Park.”
The structure will be a roofed, three-sided building, like a bird blind, with specially designed viewing features such as slanted safety glass and camera portals. It will have benches located to optimize wildlife observation. There will be a recycling water feature in front of the structure to attract birds and other wildlife. The water feature will receive its water supply from a rainwater collection system attached to the roof of a nearby existing park structure. The rainwater catchment system will also play a key role in educational programs in the park.
This project has been spearheaded by Shirley Winslow, a local resident, Master Naturalist and avid birder who was inspired to initiate work on the project after reading the book Redtails in Love, which highlighted birding in New York City’s Central Park and spending many hours bird watching at the bird blind at Pedernales Falls State Park. The project involves the Blanco County members of the Highland Lakes Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist Organization (a non-profit organization encompassing Blanco, Llano and Burnet Counties), as well as other Blanco community members. This group of individuals worked extensively with Blanco State Park Superintendent Michael Young to ensure the new structure meets all of the Texas Park and Wildlife Department requirements.
The project is made possible by the generous contributions of funding, time and materials from The Bamberger Charitable Fund of the San Antonio Area Foundation, the San Antonio Lowe’s Home Center located at 1604 and Blanco Road, the Highland Lakes Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist Organization, T & E Services (a company specializing in Rain Gutter/Rainwater Collection systems and services – located in Johnson City), the Blanco Masonic Lodge No. 216 and the Friends of Blanco State Park.