Good Water Ripples Vol 1 Issue 3

Good Water Ripples

Volume I Issue 3                                       June, 2011

From the President’s Desk

Summer has arrived with a heat wave. The rain this week has brought not only needed moisture but also some temporary cooler temperatures.  Summer has always been a fun time in my life – visits to the pool, kayaking in Central Texas, vacation travel, picnics – the list can go on and on. 

Master Naturalist activities don’t stop in spite of high temperatures. But, summer safety is still important.  When spending time outside in the sun and heat, wear broad spectrum sunscreen rated SPF 15 or higher and reapply every two hours.  Wear a hat to keep your body temperature from overheating.  Keep water with you at all times and stay hydrated.  Plan your most strenuous activity early in the day or late in the afternoon to take advantage of cooler temperatures. 

May was a busy month for our chapter.  We graduated our second class of Master Naturalists.  I was excited that for the first time, we were able to man two events in one day – the Grand Opening for Hutto Lake Park and Taylor Zestfest.  Both were successful and fun events.  Summer activities include the Bird Talks at Hutto Lake Park 7:00 P.M., June 23 – Local Breeding Birds,  July 21 – Fall Wintering Birds, August 18 – Hawks & Owls.  Texas Amphibian Watch at Berry Springs:  July 16 – 8:34 p.m., August 20 – 8:07 p.m., Sept 17 – 7:34 p.m. Bat interpretation at the McNeil – I-35 Bridge Friday and Saturday evenings.  (There will be another orientation for the bat interpretation early in July.) 

If you are looking for fun things to do this summer, here are some suggestions:

Paddle the Colorado River – Rising Phoenix Adventures rents kayaks and canoes, providing drop off and pickup in the Bastrop area: http://www.risingphoenixadventures.com/  

Old Tunnel Wildlife Management Area near Fredericksburg Turn south on Old San Antonio Road one half mile east of the Fredericksburg City Limits – travel south for 10.5 miles.  Master Naturalists provide interpretation most evenings.  To early and walk down to the mouth of the tunnel.  Get a great hamburger at Alamo Springs General Store and Café located within a mile of the Old Tunnel.  http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/hunt/wma/find_a_wma/list/?id=17

Paddle by Moonlight at Inks Lake – July 16 & August 13  – Guided tour of Inks Lake, peaceful tranquil by the light of the silver moon!  Reservations required!

Paddle by Moonlight at Buescher State Park (Smithville) July 16, 8:30 P.M. August 13, 8:30 P.M.   Enjoy a slow paddle listening for cricket frogs and barred owls at beautiful Buescher State Park.  Reservations required.  They have great air conditioned cabins there for a fun overnight excursion.

Hornsby Bend Monthly Bird Survey:  Second Saturday  7:00 A.M.  4:00 P.M.  Get paired with an experienced birder, improve your bird skills and help with the survey!

Pedernales Falls State Park Bird Blind: The big fan helps keep you cool, area birders keep the seeds, bark butter, and hummingbird syrup out to attract a wide variety of birds. 

 Did you know

  

Hummingbirds are only found in north and south America, as far north as Alaska and south as Chili.

Only female mosquitoes bite.  ( Don’t have a clue what the males do!)

Killdeer

By Mary Ann Melton

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferous) are common year round birds in Williamson County. Although they are technically shorebirds in the plover family, they have adapted well to the urban environment.  Easily recognized by the two black bands across the upper breast they  have white wing stripes are that are visible in flight. They can be found in parks, yards, pond edges, and even parking lots.  They prefer open ground with low vegetation.  Killdeer spend their time roaming the ground in search of food.  They eat insect larvae, snails, grasshoppers, and earthworms from dry ground and crayfish and aquatic insect larvae from pond edges.   Killdeer have a short, high pitched call when they fly that almost sounds like “killdeer.” They call as they fly and they call to round up their chicks. Killdeer groups are called a “season” of killdeers.

Killdeer nests are very simple – they lay their eggs directly on the ground in pastures or even in gardens.  They will feign a broken wing to lure predators away from the nest. But they will also charge large grazing animals in an attempt to get them to change their route from the nest.  It takes about 24 to 28 days for the eggs to hatch after all the eggs have been laid in the nest.

Killdeer chicks look like miniature adults. They hatch with open eyes, ready to run and follow the adults.   While they can scatter over the feeding grounds far from their parents, they quickly answer the parental call to rejoin the family group.  The adult killdeer will also surround her chicks with her wings when she thinks there is danger.

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