Wildscape Progress for August

 by Catherine Johnson

The Wildscape project at Bird and Bee Farm between Rockdale and Milano has survived the worst part of the summer and the plants are starting to have their fall flush. 

These plants are reblooming!

Eight small trees have been planted, with more to arrive. Donna Lewis donated Senna trees and we have four New Mexico Privet and Vitex as well. 

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August Chapter Meeting: Tim Siegmund

by Sue Ann Kendall

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.

Grazing, burning and drought.

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.

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A Tale of Chimney Swifts

by Ann Collins

Here’s another story from the nature notebooks of Ann Collins It’s from last year.

June 19

Two chimney swifts were circling around the old well at the top of the hill. I saw them often, two together. When disturbed by the mule, one would fly out of the well.

Chimney swifts are good at clinging to walls (photo from Cornell Labs)

June 22

I looked in the well and saw a nest with three white eggs in it. I felt sad, because I was afraid they would hatch then fall out and drown in the nasty water below.

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