In Memory of Sam Jolly

Sam Jolly – 1969-2022

Our chapter was sad to learn that one of our long-time friends and member of our most recent 2020 graduating class, Sam Jolly, passed away on April 13.

Sam attended our meetings for many years before joining a class. He was always there to help his friends and neighbors with lifting objects, driving at night, or getting up and down the stairs when we met at the old church basement.

While he had many challenges from brain tumors that affected his memory for the past few years, he was always cheerful about them and didn’t let them stop him from learning, participating in activities, and helping out in any way he could.

As recently as last year, he built bee houses for our chapter that we gave away last year at an event we held at the Wildscape. He was always busy creating, teaching others, or photographing the world around him. You can see some of his photos on iNaturalist, and it’s worth taking a look. Some are just amazing.

Long-time friend Cindy Travis said:

Pipevine swallowtail near the end of its life, but still beautiful. Photo by Sam Jolly.

He had a good heart and we feel blessed to have had him close to us and our friends for most of his last years.

Cindy Travis, friend and former landlord

After moving from Milam County to be near his family for his last few months, Sam passed away. He has left his body to science. He was always generous that way.

Learn more about Sam and his life and family in his obituary. Please share your own thoughts, photos, and memories of Sam with Sue Ann at ecrmnsecretaryATgmail (figure it out) or in the comments, and she will add them to this post.

Here are some great pictures of Sam, most of which were sent to us by his son (as was the photo at top). We are grateful for more memories of our friend to enjoy.

Build it and they will come OR Landscaping for spiders 101

by Eric Neubauer

A special spider story: I’ve developed an interest in this Pardosa mercurialis partially because it’s the only Pardosa species in Texas that anyone on iNat can reliably identify. They have particular habitat preferences which make them more common in the hill country than on the prairie. I’ve been looking far and wide for them for over a year and had only found one colony in Milam County. Needless to say, I’d become pretty familiar with the habitats they like.

For the last few months, I’ve been piling up chert nodules around the outlet of a culvert under the driveway all the time thinking the spiders might like it if only they could find it. I could try importing some spiders, but it’s better to let nature do her own thing.

At this point there were about six square feet of nodules, and I was adding half a bucket more so any pioneering spiders wouldn’t laugh at my meager efforts and move on. As I was placing some rocks by hand, I saw movement and realized I needn’t have worried. A well grown juvenile was already there.

When I came back for the empty bucket 10 minutes later, it was sunning itself on a rock the way they do. I’d never seen one on my property or within 10 miles of it before.

Birds at the Park

By Carolyn Henderson

Birds where everywhere Sunday at Wilson-Ledbetter Park. I came upon a few out of the ordinary species while walking the park to contribute to the GTWT Adopt-A-Loop project with the Texas Nature Trackers/Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and iNaturalist

Normally, flora is abundant in that park, but most things were wilted, or dried up and gone, which is primarily due to the lack of rain in August and September and mowing. I heard on the local weather report that September has been a record dry month here in Central Texas. There were a few butterflies, but they were sparse, too, probably because there are very few nectar-producing plants right now. But the birds showed up. 

There were domestic mallards that I would called mottled, mallards, mallards x muscovy cross, black-bellied Whistling Ducks (juvenile), and pekin ducks. The ducks appear to be intermingling. 

There were green herons, great blue herons (which kept stealing fish from the green heron), and a great egret. Watching the Great Egret fly over the pond was beautiful – until it landed (see top photos). It was comically ungraceful when it landed in a large patch of floating primrose-willow. 

There were also domestic geese that have been living in the wild there for a very long time. The geese and most ducks  were amazingly indifferent to humans standing amid them. All of the pictured birds have been verified for research grade on iNat except the Geese and Mallard x Muscovy, the latter of which was the suggestion by iNat.

Usually sparrows, mockingbirds, and grackles are there, but I did not see them Sunday.

If you’re a bird watcher or just want to earn some volunteer hours, it’s an interesting place to spend a little time. If you don’t yet use iNat and want to, they are having at least three programs on the use of the program at the annual meeting next month. You can attend virtually if you aren’t going in person.

Milkweed Project Update

by Donna Lewis

The Milkweed Project a few of our El Camino Real Chapter Master Naturalists started last year is still ongoing.  We were given a grant to obtain these.  Chapter member, Cathy Johnson, applied for the grant for us.

No matter what the weather throws at us, we love it.  We actually want the conditions to be as close as they can to nature, and we all know the Mother can be unpredictable. If we provide too much help, we can not call them natural.   

I had planted four areas of Zizotes.  Weather and critters have taken out three of the areas, with one remaining. I have never watered the plants this year. I wanted them to be on their own.

I also have some Antelope Horn plants that started growing on our drive shell driveway from seeds I planted some time ago.  I want to have an open buffet for the Monarchs!!!!

 Thryothorus ludovicianus, Carolina wren. Photo (c) Joseph F. Pescatore – used with permisison.

Just another note: while I was looking at all the milkweed today, I heard some interesting chatter on some of the milkweed plants and some other native cowpen daisies.  I stayed still for a moment, and saw that there were two Carolina wrens upside down going after insects on the plants.

These are interesting little birds.  We had four sets of babies this year in our barn. They are so tiny at birth. 

So many many wild things to see, so little time. By the way, one of the best books I have for Monarchs is the book  Milkweed, Monarchs and More by Ba Rea, Karen Oberhauser, and Michael A. Quinn.

In the Media: Citizen Scientists

By Sue Ann Kendall

Do you get the Texas Co-op Power magazine? It’s actually one of my favorites. The writing is great, and I’m always learning something about rural Texas on its pages.

What’s that on the cover?

This month, I was excited to see “citizen scientists” right on the cover. Who could they be talking about? Sure enough, when I turned to page 8, there was a lovely article all about opportunities to contribute to science around the state.

Hey, that’s Craig Hensley!

Though the article talks about many opportunities, we’re in there, too. Some of our favorite projects, like CoCoRaHS, are mentioned, along with Nature Trackers and iNaturalist. There are photos of Tania Homayoun and Craig Hensley doing their stuff for Texas Parks and Wildlife and using iNaturalist.

Of course, there has to be a tie-in to electric co-ops. Who could be better than our own Linda Jo Conn! Yep, she gets quoted! We can charitably ignore the lack of capitalization when they mention Texas Master Naturalists.

So, if you get your electricity from one of the amazing Texas rural electric co-ops, don’t throw away your monthly magazine this month! If you don’t get the magazine, never fear. It’s online right here.

It makes you proud to be a citizen scientist, even though that’s not the preferred term for many people, who now say “community scientist” instead. Well, we know who we are.