Last Saturday morning was a busy one for a small group of El Camino Real Texas Master Naturalists. The intrepid seven started out attending some previously girdled trees and finished by photographing everything they could find for the “Hotter than Hell BioBlitz” at Wilson-Ledbetter Park in Cameron.
Original girdlers of the invasive Glossy Privet Liz Lewis, Marian Buegeler, and I did some follow-up work on the trees we originally performed girdling on back in March. Marian was armed with a hatchet and I had a tree trimmer device to remove any new growth below the girdles. Liz directed.
I was surprised to find the trees dying because an inspection a month ago didn’t really show any significant dying off. They are showing plentiful evidence of their demise now. In case you’re new to this subject, tree girdling is a method to kill trees without herbicides or chain saws. You can find directions on how to do it from the March blog if interested.
The drought and excessive heat may be hastening the death, but it’s all occurring above the girdle line, so the process works. We are now a little excited to see where they stand in late fall.
We then proceeded to photograph what was still alive in the drought/heat wave at Wilson-Ledbetter. We managed to get 208 photos of nature surviving the weather. “Birdladymilam” Ann Collins posted the most photos on the project page on iNaturalist. Eric Neubuer found the most of one species (Wolf spiders in case you weren’t sure). Organizer Linda Jo Conn, Marian, Victoria St John, Liz and I also contributed. Blooming flowers were sparse, but there were a lot of trees, vines and grasses along with spiders, and birds.
The Milam Wildscape Project is stunning this summer. The Reks have kept the sprinklers going. We are starting to pot extra natives for Nature Days in the fall. Donna Lewis will be painting signs to identify plants. All Master Naturalists are welcome to visit- open and close the gate upon entering and leaving. Get hours for watering, straightening up-Nature Improvement in Public places, plus drive time. There is shade and a bathroom. Take home cut flowers- Cindy’s zinnias are spectacular! P
Mike McCormick, considered the largest houser of Purple Martins in the area, shared his wealth of knowledge with the El Camino Real chapter of Texas Master Naturalist on Saturday, June 18. McCormick lives south of Buckholts in Milam County with thousands of Purple Martins and a few family members. He has been housing the birds for more than 40 years and has grown the number of seasonal residents steadily every year.
There are approximately 65 Purple Martin houses at his place – all made by him. He’s also helped many others get started with some extra houses.
ECRTMN visited at the optimum time. All the babies are starting to fledge. Members learned how to house them and keep them coming back. McCormick also clarified some untrue facts about the migrating birds. For example, a 6-foot-tall martin house works as well as a 12-foot-tall house.
Thanks also go to Donna Lewis, organizer of the event, and Ms. McCormick, sister to Mike, who fed us and kept the cattle herded.
Well, we all know that every living thing needs water.
We are really experiencing a very hot and dry time right now.
This is when you can help the wildlife. Birdseed and other things we put out so we can watch and help our wildlife is a good thing, but water is the number one thing they need to survive.
I have 10 birdbaths out and I put out the sprinkler every evening around 5:00 pm.
The birds are waiting for me. I move the sprinkler about three times, so I don’t waste any water. I use it for my plants as I give the birds their cool and happy time in the refreshing raindrops the sprinklers provide. I am sure I would see them smiling if they could. Yesterday I slowly approached my garden about 10 minutes after I turned the first round of water on. They scatter if they see me and that’s OK, it keeps them safe.
This is what I saw through my fence around the garden.
4 young Titmice
1 Red-bellied woodpecker.
What a photo that would have been. I also have lots of bees getting water from the birdbaths.
So, remember to put out lots of water features and keep them full.
The birds like a perch when bathing, so a fence or trellis is good, but is also a good hiding place for cats. Most are there for the water, but the kitties are there for the birds….
The El Camino Real Chapter Wildscape at the Bird and Bee Farm is awash in blooming plants. I went to water early Saturday morning and was quite surprised by the incredible growth since the last time I was there to prep for the award Gene and Cindy Rek received from the Texas Environmental Quality Commission.
It looks like everything has recovered from the freezes this year and last. Come and see for yourself and water some plants or pull a weed while you’re there.