Tuesday, June 2, 2009
A Meaningful Walk in the Woods
It was warm by the time we got out to the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve on Saturday morning but we were covered from head to toe, prepared for a hike and search of invasive species. This was my first trip with Gloria and Theresa, they've been covering the cities property a little at a time every other week or so this spring. Searching for, removing and documenting invasive species is one of many volunteer opportunities offered up through the CAMN program. When you finish the classwork portion of the training you still have 40 volunteer hours plus 8 advanced education classes to finish in a year before graduating. I brought along my girlfriend Sabrina as well...she's a chemistry teacher with a background in biology and Oriental Medicine, she fit in great!
We met at a parking lot in North Austin, then carpooled to the location which is not open to the public and we had to sign waivers to be out on the land. It's still Golden Cheeked Warbler mating season so only a few people are allowed on the property at a time.
Here's one of the first little miracles we saw...some small critter had carefully folded up the edges on this leaf to create a nesting place...I let go of the branch very carefully so as not to disturb.
Lovely little Acacias covered the forest floor, my favorite was the Sensitive Plant which I'd read about but never seen.
This little golden blossom was blooming all over the hillside, but we couldn't find it in any of our field guides.
It's hard to see the tunnel spider because she blends in with the bark of the tree.
Theresa investigating a plant.
Most of the hike was spent flipping through guidebooks trying to learn our natives...while watching out for invasives. We don't actually remove them, unless they're small. What we do is record the GPS point and report it to the city for documentation and then they do the removing.
One of dozens of Lion Ant traps...we never saw the little critters.
We saw one Golden Cheeked Warbler and managed to get ourselves pretty lost, even though we had a compass and GPS...the terrain was challenging and the woods were, as always full of wonder. The company was spectacular and it was all together a fun and healthy way to spend a Saturday morning. We clocked 3 1/2 hours and covered quite a bit of land and thankfully only found one 5ft x 5ft Nandina in full bloom. If you have Nandina or "Heavenly Bamboo" in your yard, as many of us do and...you like it...simply cut off the blossoms and berries each season and enjoy. Just be prepared to prune a lot! Happy Gardening!