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A Naturalist's Observation: Late Spring, Early Summer

Texas weather being it’s usual self, gave us an interesting late spring. May, dry, one of the driest we’ve had, making us feel once again that we might be heading into a drought. But after our last year's weather we get a bit fearful of thinking that, because, that was our thought right before being hit with, the deluge, the flood of 2002. So far this year we are lucky and had some nicely spaced out rains in June. Flora and fauna alike appreciated this.

If you live in neighborhoods with folk’s that have ponds, the calling that might be keeping you up at night, is probably the Gulf Coast Toads. For many seasons, I thought that huge amount of sound must be coming from frogs until I took a walk by a neighborhood pond and saw the toads sitting in the grass like chirping little mushrooms.

That evening also permitted me to see a Yellow Crowned Night Heron fishing. A nice change at all of our area's large parking lots; Great-tailed Grackles moved out, Western Kingbirds move in. Greater Nighthawks still fly around the lights at night and so do the June Bugs, in June! My N.E. area has had some interesting changes; lesser Nighthawks swooping low at twilight and Chickadees and Black-crested Titmice. Birds that are usually in our parks and natural areas!

In our natural areas; Honey Creek, like most of the state, has seen the migratory birds pass through. Haven’t seen any Golden Cheeked Warblers, perhaps they have left to go to there summering grounds in the mountains of eastern Mexico. Still hearing Chipping Sparrows by the Rust house, along with the usual: Cardinals (do they ever stop singing?),that includes the Painted Buntings, Berwick’s, most doves with the addition of Ground Doves, and Yellow Billed Cuckoo’s destroyers of the webbed caterpillars. Speaking of such, after planting dill, two plants, one for the Anise Swallowtail caterpillars, one for us. Well 12 larvae showed up and annihilated the plants. Anise and parsley just kept them going, enabling them to pupate. We are waiting for the emergence of those beautiful butterflies, with the understanding that if you destroy, the sometimes destructive caterpillars, you might be killing a potentially beautiful butterfly. Very often a tough choice.

Hike wise, the huge orb weavers; Bicentarius Arenaeus, have not had the population of last year (Wheew!!), Rat snakes have thrilled and dismayed some participants, but our Saturday walk have been very successful! We have had the Children’s World Day Care Center come by to learn about Honey Creek. They are having three days of field trips, ages from 11 year olds to 4 year olds;  75 kids all-together!

We will be informing all Friends of the upcoming dates of “Hike and Hack”. This is when we ask for some folks to volunteer and hike off trail to remove the small Ashe Juniper, especially in the prairie restoration. Nip It In the Bud!

On a personal note; I have listened to the Summer Tanager, with its fluid robin like call or the Chee-bunk! Pee-Wees also have included their song in the riparian habitat along with one of my favorites: the White Eyed Vireo. But the questioning / answering song of the Red Eyed vireo that visually has so long eluded me, finally has been seen! What a wonderful day, what a joy!!

Isn’t it so wonderful to be a lifetime learner, a naturalist, where there is hardly ever, a boring day!!

Holly Camero