Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Austin Science and Nature Center Monthly Survey

Last Friday I joined a group of about 10 folks to help in the monthly Biodiversity Survey behind the Austin Science and Nature Center, located just off Stafford Drive behind Zilker Botanical Gardens. This gathering is usually conducted on the first Saturday but since that was the 4th of July they went a day early, so I was able to attend. My weekends are spent micro managing spouse on various yard projects that require brute strength and...seeing clients.

We began at 7am and it was already 80 degrees in the shade...but it felt like 60 compared to the day before. The list of things we saw is enormous. One person carries a plant list where we note blooming and fruiting natives and another takes notes on all animal/insect sightings.

I remember taking the photo but can't remember what we were looking at! We did see a few baby Preying Mantis...maybe that's what it is?

This is Balsam Gourd, Ibervillea Lindheimeri (Lindheimer's Globeberry) I'd never seen it before so I had to check out it's uses and found that the seeds are eaten by scaled quail and the leaves, in a drought by white tailed deer. It is unique to the Edwards Plateau.

A little water was here and there full of mosquito larvae!

Noah, a 14 year old Eagle Scout who was part of our CAMN class this year, went about turning over rocks and found these doomed Gecko eggs...exciting find!

Yikes, I didn't know that Poison Ivy made berries...apparently the birds just love 'em!

I just love this sweat wall for it's burnt orange color and plethora of Maiden Hair Fern.

Some of our group ambling through a dry creek bed.

Clear puddle, rare find.

Pigeon Berry

We found the hole where the wasp(s) came out...poor tree.

We came to a meadow at some point and one of the ladies began naming the butterflies and it reminded me of our CAMN graduation when Jeri got up and said that the only thing she felt a "Master" of was observing. It must take a lifetime to feel like you know what's around you. And, on the other hand...does it matter? To me, not really. I get a kick out of the classes and it helps in distinguishing one sound from another, one species from another so they all don't just become, birds, frogs, bugs and flowers. I try to hold onto a few new things and just really enjoy the fresh air, the exceptionally genuine company...people included, and work on my scout skills.

Empty turtle egg casings .

One of the best things about doing these things is getting out to see the early morning sun.

Green stinkbug looking critter...again, the name vanished into the hot thick air.

Carpenter ants with larvae under another rock
Such a beautifully sculpted wall, it's amazing the creative power of water.

We couldn't find the name of this in our guides...Anyone know what it is...until we have a name I say we call it Popcornus Planti.

I find this very interesting and beautifully delicate.

Hairy Nightshade cooked to a nice burnt orange by the sun. Nightshade plants are a huge family, some edible some mildly to fatally toxic. I grow a few myself because they are gorgeous...such as Datura Metal or Brugmansia...also, the common potato. Hairy Nightshade, and many of the other small berry's like belladonna are toxic and even fatal depending on dosage, you don't want to have these in your garden if you have cats.

Quintessential image of our Austin soil situation.

We had a great time at the ANSC and if you're looking for something new and educational to do with the kids head on out there...it's fun for the whole group! Those of you interested in the Master Naturalist program, watch out for the applications to show up online sometime in August. Get it in early, I was on the waiting list for two years!
Happy Gardening!


Bob said...

It looks like you had a good time. There's always something to see if you just look. It seems like you found a lot to see.

I tried to find your mystery plant. It looks a lot like Snake Cotton but my book doesn't show the leaves so it might not be.

Homer & Dana said...

Poison Ivy (and other rhus species) are also good nectar sources for honey bees :)

mkircus said...

I have been on one of the surveys and hope to go on more of them. I think I have conflict with the Hornsby Bend Survey and last weekend I was coming home from a vacation in New Mexico where I enjoyed new birds, learned about the San Juan River which is the 10th best salmon stream in the world, while riding down it in a dory, and visited ancient Indian ruins.

Maybe I'll meet you next time.

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MamaHolt said...

I always feel like I'm right there with you. What amazing stuff y'all found. I look forward to doing this kind of great stuff when my babe is older. Great post.

Kathleen (katydid) said...

Wowza!!! Looking for pigeon berry photos, I found YOU. Inspiring blog, lady. I just moved to Allandale in Austin, gardening in pots on my tiny apartment patio with a mix of exotics and natives. Love Wordless Wednesday photos. I'll be back here, often. Thanks.