Our chapter meets monthly on the second Thursday of the month in Milano, Texas.
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.
Our August Chapter Meeting speaker was our old friend, Tim Siegmund, from Texas Parks and Wildlife. He spoke on “Prairies, Woodlands, Wildlife, and Managing for Diversity.” He had many wonderful photos that showed how careful management of land can result in habitat for a wide variety of life.
First, he told us what shaped the land before we Europeans showed up and turned our post oak savanna into more of a thicket. For the most part it was maintained by the large grazers (bison, mammoths, prairie dogs, and such) and fires. Some of the fires were natural, but many were also set by Native Americans for many reasons, plus natural ones. Drought also affects the trees, especially wetland species.
In all, the land was lightly used, since the heavy grazers migrated, creating a variety of settings for different birds, insects, and plants depending on how recently they’d been through an area.
He then explained how settlers intensified the use of land. An important factor was that they built fences, so grazing became year round and focused. The cattle/sheep, goats and friends would repeatedly graze the same area, giving no time for deep-rooted perennial grasses to recover. Soon enough, plants like cedars, huisache, and mesquite would fill in the grasslands.
Editor’s note: We’ll be sharing a few stories from Ann’s nature observation notebooks over the coming weeks. We hope you enjoy them!
Driving home from a meeting the other night, almost to the house, just about at the chicken house, a small bird fluttered to the ground.
What the heck, I thought, is that?
It landed softly on the road and just sat there looking straight into the car lights. The little bird was a soft grayish-brown and looked fluffy. It was six to eight inches tall, according to my estimate.
By then I had identified him a an Eastern screech owl. I’ve seen them here before and heard them even more often, but I’d never had such a good look.
We sat, mesmerized, looking at each other for a bit. Then he fluttered up and flew into the woods across from the chickens. He didn’t seem to be a strong flyer.
I hope he stays around. I’m not trying to raise purple martins or anything else, so everyone is welcome to hang out here. I don’t know if he is a nest robber or a predator of smaller birds. Whatever. I’ll just let nature take its course and be happy with that!
The Wildscape garden project is doing great, despite the recent heat. It is nice to be able to irrigate every inch the way we have it set up. We hope you enjoy the photos of some of the flowers in bloom now.
Butterflies and hummingbirds have found the flowers and are arriving in good numbers.
We’re happy to report that more items have been donated to the garden, including some solar water fountains that will provide a soothing sound and the moving water source many insects and birds enjoy.