Good Water Ripples vol 1 Issue 5

Good Water Ripples

Volume I Issue 5                                    October, 2011

From the President’s Desk

The end of September and the last few cold fronts are slowly but surely bringing to an end a record breaking summer for Central Texas. The temps on Thursday, September 29 set a record not only for the day, but also set a record of 90 days above 100 degrees for the summer.  From the Austin Statesman, the state climatologist, John Nielsen-Gammor, is warning that the current drought could last until 2020 because we could be in the middle of a 20-40 year dry phase.   Water planners certainly need to heed this warning, but another meteorologist, Bob Rose, with the LCRA says that no one can predict a mulit-year drought. Rose seems hopeful that when we get into spring, that the La Nina-El Nino changes rapidly. The  La Nina that is expected in 2012 should be weaker than last years. Rose is hopeful that we could get a more normal rain pattern in the spring.  As Master Naturalists, we know that weather patterns are cyclical.  While it feels like it is going to be dry forever, we know that eventually the rains will return.

While it has been so hot this summer, that outdoor volunteer work has not looked appealing; the cooler fall temperatures will bring a welcome relief. We have several opportunities for service.  Saturday, October 8 is Berry Springs Cleanup Day.  On Saturday, October 15, Georgetown Parks & Recreation will have a Texas Outdoor Family Workshop that could use some Master Naturalist help with Fishing Basics, Wildlife Detectives, Insect Investigations, and Water Wonders.   The new Round Rock Park Rangers have scheduled a creek cleanup at Old Settler’s Park on Saturday, November 5th.  We can help other Round Rock Park volunteers and possibly have a chance to recruit some new folks for next year’s class. Sometime around November 8th, Georgetown is receiving 50 cypress trees that perhaps some of us can help plant.  I will be sending a signup sheet through email for those who missed the September meeting.

I am excited to announce that our chapter is hosting a Texas Parks and Wildlife Project Wild Training on November 30th.  This training is a 6-hour training with an hour off for a sack lunch. This program has been around for many years and provides wonderful ideas for sharing nature with all ages of children and teenagers.  While the cost of the training is $25.00, the cost for chapter members will only be $15.00.  Check your emails for signup information. You will register online through Texas Parks & Wildlife.


We have some other opportunities that are still in the planning stages. We are still exploring the possibilities of helping out at the Rivery Park Pond.  More information will be coming as Diane and her committee meet with the contractors as to how we can best be of help in maintaining native water plants, removing invasive plants, and updating interpretive signage. 

We are also working with Georgetown Parks and Recreation on helping incorporate nature education as part of several ongoing children and youth programming already in place through the Georgetown Recreation Center. 

The Texas Master Naturalist State Meeting will be October 21-23rd at Mo Ranch in Hunt, Texas.  This is a beautiful place to spend time as well as a great educational opportunity.  Registration information is available on the state website:  All registration will be done online.

 Feature Article

Monarch Butterfly Migration


The story of the monarch butterfly’s amazing migration is familiar to Master Naturalists.  This is the time of year where the fourth generation is flying throughTexasto reach their winter habitat in the fir mountains ofMexico. They cross Texas in two waves – one is a three hundred mile wide swath from Wichita Falls to Eagle Pass during the last week of September through the third week in October.  The other flyway is along the Texas coast from the third week in October until the middle of November.  Tens of thousands can be seen in select locations in West-Central Texas during the second and third weeks of October.  State parks from San Angelo to Brackettville to Eagle Pass are good observation areas as are locations along the Devils River, the Llano River, the Frio River and the Sabinal River.  While the weather is warm, they will remain in an area, leaving when a cold front passes through. 

The groves of trees in the Mexican mountains shelter the butterflies from rain, wind and cold, but keep them cold enough to reduce their energy consumption.  The butterflies hibernate, living off their fat reserves until they begin leaving Mexico in March. Only the monarch’s east of the Rocky Mountains travel to Mexico.  The monarchs that live west of theRockieswinter in groves of trees from north ofSan Franciscoto nearSan Diego. 

There are populations of Monarchs in tropical locations in Florida, Central America, the Caribbean Islands and Pacific Islands that do not migrate.  They breed year round.  The wings of non-migrating Monarch’s are 20% smaller.

The migrating monarchs face several obstacles for survival.  The host plant, the milkweed, grows in disturbed habitats such as farm fields and along roadsides. However, suburban development is reducing the landscapes where 90% of milkweeds grow.  Homeowners can plant varieties of milkweed to help sustain the populations of these migrating butterflies as they migrate north. In addition, fall blooming plants provide food for the returning monarchs.  In Mexico, the wintering sites are threatened because of tree cutting to build roads, houses and farms.  In addition there have been weather issues in Mexico the last couple of years.  The population of Monarchs in Mexico in 2010-2011 was only 1/5 of the peak population in 1996-1997. 

 Species of the Month

Beneficual Insects, click below to read the file



Did You Know

A moose, king of the antler world, is the largest member of the deer family

Cats are induced ovulaters, so artificial insemination is fruitless and unsuccessful.


California Trip Report, continued

 by Winnie  Bowen


The Coast Botanical Gardens, the only coastal botanical garden on the west coast, cover 47 acres in Mendocino, California. This wonderful garden offers everything from colorful displays to thunderous waves. The mild maritime climate makes the ocean-front gardens one for all seasons with manicured formal gardens, a dense coastal pine forest, native flora and habitats, succulent garden, dahlia garden, fern-covered canyons, camellias, rhododendrons, magnolias and conifers, heaths and heathers, and flower-filled coastal bluffs overlooking the blue ocean.

The gardens were founded in 1961 by retired nurseryman, Ernest Schoefer, and his wife, Betty. Five years later the gardens opened to the public. Ernest’s keen eye spotted the ample supply of water augmented by the mild coastal climate and the quality soil essential for acid-loving plants like rhododendrons. Of the 1200 species of rhododendrons only two are native to California. The gardens had hundreds of plants in many many species. Unfortunately they were not blooming.

In 1992, the Gardens were purchased with grants from the California Coastal Conservancy and transferred to the Mendocino Coast Recreation and Park District.

Native to the cloud forests of Southeast, Asia and the Himalayas the tender species rhododendrons produce some of the most fragrant blossoms of the year. Restricted to a narrow band along the northern California coast, they thrive in the foggy coastal climate.

The Gardens are a haven for bird watchers with the list of bird species over 150.  Red-throated loons and double-crested cormorants are common in summer. The black oystercatcher frequents the rocky coastline year-round. Ospreys, hawks, sandpipers, plovers and Canada geese are also regulars. Ash-throated flycatchers, savannah sparrows and red-breasted nuthatches are rare, but may be seen.

I could have spent all week here but made the most of the three and a half hours I had. The dahlia garden was in full bloom in a huge range of color from single colors to double and tripled colored flowers. The blooms ranged from small star-shaped to small pompoms to plate-size pompoms. At the end of the garden was a covered wooden deck with benches.

      We went through a unique small branch fence to a rustic native habitat area. But except for seeing a couple of birds we saw no animals. It is a ½ mile walk to the ocean bluffs.

Another garden that took my breath away was the succulent garden. I saw all kinds of succulents I have never seen before and some most unusual ones. The aloe maculate, or soap aloe, was in bloom and nothing like the aloe vera we are familiar with.

The paths were wheelchair accessible; most of the plants were labeled. Several small creeks run through the gardens. There were also some thirty sculptures throughout the gardens. Many were made of metal and were modern while others were more traditional and graceful. Many sign posts displayed pictures and descriptions of birds frequently seen.

For anyone in northern California, the gardens would be a must-see visit. They were spectacular and I suspect are so all year round.

            The Gardens are now under the auspices of the Mendocino Parks and Rec Department. The park is maintained by 19-20 employees and over a hundred volunteers, many of whom are Master Gardeners.

Smart Phone  and Tablet Nature Apps

By Mary Ann Melton 

I have both an  iPhone and an iPad.  These are the nature oriented apps that I am familiar with.  This is not an exhaustive list, just a sample based upon what I have.  All of the apps below are available for the iPhone and/or iPad.   Without doing an exhaustive search, I found the ones noted for Android and Blackberry.  More are probably available on the other platforms. 

BirdsEye – Guiding You to Birds

This app lets you find what birds are being seen near you. You can change the location and see what birds have been reported and when.  

iBird – A Bird Field Guide in your pocket from Mitch Waite group.  Comes in several versions.  Nice feature is you can choose your location (by state) and limit the search for birds more likely to be found in your area.  You can also search by shape, size, habitat, bill shape, etc.

      iBird Pro – most complete with most features (iPhone, iPad, Android Phones & Tablets)

      iBird Plus

  Smaller versions – more regional or habitat specific

      iBird Backyard Plus

      iBird Explorerer South

      iBird Explorer North

      iBird Explorer West

      iBird Explorer MidWest

 Audubon Guide Set  (iPhone, iPad – available as individual apps on Android devices)

     Birds, Mammals, Trees, Wildflowers

Sibley’s eGuide to Birds of North America (iPhone, iPad, Android devices, Blackberry)

    Instead of hauling a big field guide around on a hike, I can get all the benefits of Sibley’s (color morphs, seasonal plumage, bird calls, etc) on my phone in my pocket. Also allows you to keep a life list.

Texas Snakes (iPhone, iPad )

    Field Guide to snakes with photos of allTexassnakes, browse by county, search for ratlle, pattern or region, browse venomous and non-venomous snakes.

Audubon Nature Texas – the Ultimate Texas Nature Guide by Green Mountain Digital

(Also available for other states and regions)  (iPhone, iPad)

    Birds, Butterflies, Fishes, Insects and Spiders, Seashells, Reptiles and Amphibians, Trees, Wildflowers, Mammals, Seashore Creatures

National Geographic Hand held Birds (iPhone, iPad, Blackberry)

Audubon Peterson Guide to Warblers

   Specific nature guide just to warblers, includes illustrations,

Audubon Owls from Green Mountain Digital

    Specific nature guide just for owls: photos, range map, calls videos, interactive puzzles,  etc.

Backyard Scat & Tracks

PUniverse HD – An Astronomy App iPad only

   Virtual Sky

    The Solar System

    The Sun and Planets

    What’s up?  (What’s visible right now)

From my husband’s App collection:

Star Walk –  Allows you to point your iPhone to the sky and see what stars, constellations and satellite s you are seeing.


3D Sun – gives updates on solar flares, video from auroras from space station.


Tides – gives tide information by location


Ifeltthat Earthquake – seismograph tells where earthquakes happen


NASA app – gives information about space shots and images from space


LeafSnap – take picture of leaf and it identifies the plant.


SkySafari Light ($2.99), Sky Safari 3 ($2.99), Sky Safari 3 Plus ($14.99), SkySafari 3 Pro ($39.99) – The most advanced version lets you see all the stars,  you can keep zooming and still continue to get more stars.  Sky Safari 3 Pro can work with an automated telescope to point at the desired star.  At $39.99 it is the most comprehensive astronomy app according to the March-April 2011 Iphone Life magazine.


PinPoint Lightning 2011 – notifies you when lighting is striking in your area.  I bought the 2010 version and I had to upgrade to 2011 continue using it.


Disclaimer: Mary Ann Melton has not received any free products related to the apps mentioned above.  Henry Melton received a free butterfly app as a thank you for one review he wrote.







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