Journal archives for March 2016

March 06, 2016

"Adventures with a Texas Naturalist" by Roy Bedichek

I'm proud and ashamed that I finally finished reading "Adventures with a Texas Naturalist" by Roy Bedichek. (I include "ashamed" because I read so seldom and slowly these days.) His descriptions of and thoughts about our local plants and animals were so enjoyable and satisfying, thanks partly to already being familiar with many of them. And his concerns about conservation and lack of human connection with nature are just as relevant now as they were in 1947 when the book was originally published.

I was most surprised how moved I was by his eloquent description of and thoughts about human connection with domestic animals. He considered this as vital as our connection to nature.

"When I was a boy living on a small acreage near a rural village, the safety bicycle was just appearing, but there no smooth roads, much less anything that resembled a pavement. I was brought, therefore, into daily contact with a sentient being as a means of transportation. It had moods, just as I had. It responded to caresses, and to scoldings or ill-treatment. This animal knew my voice and reflected its intonations by quick changes in behavior. In short, my pony was my pal."

Posted on March 06, 2016 22:06 by mikaelb mikaelb | 2 comments | Leave a comment

March 13, 2016

CAMN Entomology and Herpetology Day 2016-03-12

Yesterday was a training day for the Capital Area Master Naturalist 2016 class that I'm attending. We spent the morning listening to great lectures by Alex Wild and Andy Gluesenkamp about entomology and herpetology. Then we spent the afternoon on The Nature Conservancy's Barton Creek Habitat Preserve in southwest Austin. Attached are observations from there.

Posted on March 13, 2016 18:13 by mikaelb mikaelb | 13 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 20, 2016

Nalle Bunny Run Group Walk 2016-03-19

This morning 11 folks joined me for the monthly group walk on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run. It was a cold windy morning when I arrived at the preserve and I was worried that it would be a cold and uneventful group walk, but it turned out to be one of the most fun group walks in the past couple years! Besides enjoying what turned out to be a beautiful cool and clear morning, we had three especially memorable bird observation experiences.

The first was on the west part of the preserve when we encountered a group of 150-200 Cedar Waxwings in just a couple trees. As we watched they periodically flew down into the Yaupon bushes and ate the red berries. They were so skittish! One moment a Yaupon bush would be alive with birds, the next it would be empty when the birds all sensed something that scared them back into the trees. And they let us get so close! Sometimes groups of birds would fly by within 10 feet of us. This time of year is just about the peak of Cedar Waxwing numbers. They are a winter-resident bird and birds who wintered further south have already started their journey north and have joined the birds who wintered in the Austin area. Here are some photos and a video of them flying into and then leaving a Yaupon bush:

Cedar Waxwings Perched

Cedar Waxwings Perched

Cedar Waxwings Feeding on Yaupon Berries

Cedar Waxwings Feeding on Yaupon Berries

Our second experience was down by the lake where probably the same single male Yellow-throated Warbler has returned to the cypress trees. I initially heard it singing a couple times and played a recording of its song on my phone to coax it in closer to the group. It came right up to us, singing and easily visible to everyone. Later it was literally right over our heads, still singing without any coaxing from my recordings. This is a rare species in Travis county, and for years a handful of these birds have been breeding in the cypress trees of the Bunny Run. But for the past few, only one male has returned. I think this bird was him.

Yellow-throated Warbler

Our third experience was in the same area near the water. For the past few winters there has been a Pyrrhuloxia spending the winter on the Bunny Run, a western species similar to Northern Cardinal that is rare for the Austin area. This winter there have been many more Pyrrhuloxia than normal around Austin, and there had been a pair of them on the Bunny Run. Today we saw four! Here are a couple distant shots of one of the males:

Pyrrhuloxia

Pyrrhuloxia

What a fun morning! Here is our complete bird list.

And here are a few more photos.

Posted on March 20, 2016 00:27 by mikaelb mikaelb | 6 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment