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Hello, friends. This blog is where the El Camino Real Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists shares news, articles, and reflections. You’ll find our posts right under this introduction. We encourage your comments and likes, and of course, shares!

Texas Parks and Wildlife
AgriLife Extension

The Texas Master Naturalist program is sponsored by Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.

Our chapter meets monthly on the second Thursday of the month. Because of the pandemic, we are meeting via Zoom. Contact us for more information on attending meetings and our future plans.

Our Mission: To develop a corps of well-informed volunteers to provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities for the State of Texas.

Another Drought and Watering Update

Donna Lewis

Hello nature lovers…

I saw something this morning that was very sad and showed just how the weather and our actions as humans can help or harm the other living creatures that share our earth.

I had just gone out (7:00 am) to my garden to fill up all the bird baths and water containers that I have out to help the birds and other creatures find water. I also put out bird seed.

Just as I opened the gate, I looked across the garden to see a Cottontail rabbit standing on its hindlegs to drink from a bird bath that was half empty.  Its little ribs were showing the impact of the drought… I was very moved by the sight of it. I was happy that I had many low-level water containers already out in different areas.

This is why we need to put out more water containers for wildlife now. Some of these containers need to go on the ground for the mammals, snakes and others who cannot get up to a bird bath on a pedestal.

I am going to put more out today. I searched for anything I could use.  Yes, even a frisbee can hold water.

You do not need to clean the containers every day. Just put fresh water in. You can clean the containers once a week or every few days.

Put the water under the shade if you can. Anything to keep it cooler. This goes for the Hummingbird feeders too.

Does putting water out for animals matter?  YES, if you help even one living thing to survive, you have made a difference.

We have to start doing, not just thinking about doing something.

I hear this too often: don’t worry someone will do it… We are the someone.  So, make a difference today.

Remember who you are gardening for.

Herding Armadillos

by Donna Lewis

Early this morning (July 21), I was putting out my bird feeders when I heard rustling going on in my pollinator garden. For about a week I have seen evidence of an armadillo doing their thing in the garden. Some of the little critters’ actions are very beneficial to the garden. The soil is aerated, and the grub worms are eaten and removed.

But the other action is not so good. The armadillo is also pulling up some of the remaining plants I have left that the drought has not killed off. So that is not so good.

Anyway, I had not been able to find the perpetrator just yet.  So, I looked and there inside the fence was a young armadillo. We will call her Amy. I rush around the fence and open the gate to my garden.  I thought I might be able to herd her out the gate to my pasture.

This is not Amy, but it IS a running armadillo! This is by Brandon Adams on iNaturalist, just his second observation!

Also, I might add that our little 13-pound Papillon Mix dog was also outside for his morning constitutional. I kinda forgot about him.

Well, herding an armadillo is not easy. They are fast and do not cooperate with the program.  After 20 minutes, I finally got Amy to the gate opening where lo and behold…Cujo was waiting!   

The excitement was about to begin. Our little pup decided to chase the armadillo back into the garden and around and around everywhere. The dog is barking, the little Armadillo is hollering and I am shouting to the dog. What a crazy sight it must have been. I wish I had a video of it.

I had to catch our little dog, take him back inside the house and start to herd Amy back towards the garden gate again.

All this took about an hour.  What a way to get some exercise. It was not too good for my bad back. BUT, no animal or human was hurt doing the event.

Now, that’s how a Master Naturalist wrangles and saves a cute little Armadillo.

Have fun in your garden.


Here are some more photos and more information on nine-banded armadillos on iNaturalist.

Wren Watch 2

by Catherine Johnson

Both parents are still alive and feeding several babies.

It was so hot yesterday that the parents moved the babies out to get cooler air and moved them back into the nest at night.

I have added a cover to keep sun off their nest and remove it at night so nothing jumps on it to crash the nest down. I will start putting out water dishes surrounding my yard for when they fledge.   

Pampered wrens!

Drought, Ugh

by Donna Lewis

First we have the Big Freeze, now we have the big heat wave and drought!!

I guess we need to be more careful about what we wish for. When it was cold, I wished for warm weather…

So I took a few photos around the house. It is bad. I didn’t even have the heart to take photos of my beautiful pollinator garden. I have tried to save it, but we also have to be smart.

Water for the birds, the big plants and trees. But we might just have to let the small stuff go.  Zinnias will come back from the dried seeds you can harvest now. That will save some water.

This is a good time to learn from this weather event. Put out a sprinkler in the evening, the birds love it.

And on a happy note, here is one of my neighbor’s horses watching me put out the sprinklers. He always gets a carrot for helping me!  

Take stock of WHAT is surviving instead of being so upset over the plants that do not make it. Next year we will know to plant more of the hardy things that made it.

We must always observe and revise our plans. Things change.