Right here at home - in the Hill Country!

July, 2005


President Randy Moss

Vice President Tom Watson

Secretary Nancy Turner

Treasurer Winifred Simon

Training Committee

Joe Piazza

Records Committee

Judy Telford

State Advisory Board

Walt Krudop

Editor Richard Barnett

Webmaster Dave Schwarz

Extension Agent Bryan Davis


July 12, 2005 Class Meeting: Trees, Robert Edmondson, Chapter 4,18-23;

Bats, Meg Goodman, Chapter 4,1-17.

Read all of Chapter 4 for August class and field trip.

NO other Chapter activities are scheduled for July.

July 24: Southeast Texas Master Naturalists Fair, Brazosport. For information, registration and photo contest forms, visit , click on Advanced Training Opportunities, and scroll down to July 24th.

August 9, 2005 Class Meeting: Birds, Linda Keese;

Wildlife (mammals and herps) and Habitat, Dr. Randy Simpson

August ?, 2005 Class Field Trip to John Knox Ranch, 9:00 am to 12:00 noon: Fishes, Dr. Randy Moss; Amphibians & Reptiles, Lee Ann Linam; Water Quality & Invertebrates, Gordon Linam

August 27: A day on the San Marcos River with Betty Watkins. Watch for more information about arrangements.

September 13, 2005 Class Meeting: Prairies, Bob Lyons; Insects, Noel Troxclair (Chapter


September 17, 2005 Class Field Trip to Bamberger Ranch, 9:00 am to 12:00 noon,

$10.00 per person

September 22: HCMN program in Wimberley.

Watch for more information about guest speaker, program, and location.

October 2005 Class Meeting: Livestock on Small Acreage, Dr. Rick Machem,

Chapter 8; Agricultural and Wildlife Tax Valuation, KayBeth Williams

October 15, 2005 Class Field Trip to Eagle Rock Ranch; Wildlife Management Activities, KayBeth Williams

October: Annual picnic at Vetter Park. Watch for more information about date and arrangements.

October 21 to 23: Statewide Annual Meeting and Advanced Training at MO Ranch in Hunt, Texas.

November 1, 2005 Class Meeting: Land Fragmentation, Dr. Neal Wilkins, Chapter 7;

Land Stewardship & Sharing Your Knowledge Effectively, Sonny Arnold

November 8, 2005 Class Graduation: Bryan Davis

November. HCMN Annual Business Meeting and election of Officers.

Watch for more information about date, arrangements, and possible speaker.

December. Annual party and presentation of awards.

Watch for more information about date and arrangements.

A second Christmas party for regional Master Naturalist Chapters is in the planning stage.

The organizers have proposed the Cibolo Nature Centre in Boerne as the location.

Please watch for more information about date and arrangements.


A Day on the River

Please watch this space for more information about "A Day on the River with Betty Watkins."

The date is August 27, and the river is the San Marcos River.


Advanced Training

Statewide Annual Meeting & Advanced Training

This year's meeting will be held October 21 to 23 at MO Ranch in Hunt, Texas.

Please watch this space for more information about the Advanced Training schedule.

On the Trail


Interpretation using items found on the trail is the focus of the fourth annual Southeast Texas Master Naturalist Fair to be held on Sunday, July 24th. A cooperative effort of the Coastal Prairie, Cradle of Texas, Galveston Bay Area, Gulf Coast and Heartwood chapters, this regional event is open to all Master Naturalists. Last year's event drew over 100 Master Naturalists from seven chapters.

"Upon the Trail" is the title of the 2005 fair, to be held at the Brazosport Center for the Arts & Sciences in Clute (near Lake Jackson). Advanced training opportunities designed to provide tools and examples of how Master Naturalists can educate the public about the natural resources include Easy Snake Identification, Ethnobiology: Historical Uses of Plants, Life from Decomposition, Monofilament Recycling, and a field trip to Sea Center Texas.

The $20 registration fee includes all workshops and field trips, plus a breakfast bar and Mexican food lunch, but participants should plan to bring cash to spend on raffles and at the Galveston Bay Area Chapter's TMN store. Naturally Curious will also have a store on site during the event and accepts all major credit cards. Registration goes up to $25 after the deadline of July 15, 2005.

For more information, and to download registration and photo contest forms, visit, click on Advanced Training Opportunities, and scroll down to July 24th. Information on overnight accommodations can be found at


Chapter News

WestCave Preserve Field Trip

Fifteen Master Naturalists and guests attended the June 4 Chapter field trip to WestCave Preserve, and John Ahrns, the preserve manager, personally conducted the tour of the preserve's natural attractions.

The 30 acres of WestCave Preserve overlooking the Pedernales River north of Dripping Springs contain something from A to Z to fascinate scientists of every persuasion. The Visitor Centre is a gem of environmental engineering and design with stonework embellished with enviable fossils of ammonites and other invertebrates from the Cow Creek Limestone. But the scenery and birds lured us onto the trail.

The trail to WestCave begins on the live oak and juniper savannah that clothe the uplands above the Pedernales River. The trail follows the fissured brink of a cliff overlooking the low water crossing of the river, where fleets of Harleys rumbled all morning, on their way to a huge rally in Austin. Painted Buntings sang bravely in the background while several supposedly-reclusive Golden Cheeked Warblers displayed for us in an oak tree that must be their equivalent of a lek. Their display reminded me of a field trip in East Texas where Red Cockaded Woodpeckers were equally rambunctious. Birds always do their best for Master Naturalists. John Arhns informed us that the indigenous pronunciation of warbler is "wobbler."

He pointed out the nest of a Bushtit in the same tree. Their nest resembles a lumpy sock. John has been at WestCave since its opening, and he knows the location of every bird nest on the property.

Past the Wobbler Oak, the trail begins its descent into the deep ravine that leads to WestCave. The ravine is the product of postglacial fluvial erosion of the upland surface of Cow Creek Limestone, aided in its headward expansion by springs that undermined the underlying Hammet Shale. Seeps and intermittent springs feed a perennial stream that soon joins the Pedernales. The year-round water supply supports a rich riparian community where Spicebush Swallowtails flit around below a canopy of three- and four-century-old cypress trees, walnuts, oaks, and hackberries. John pointed out a Cooper's hawks nest in one cypress.

The trail leads to an overhang in the cliff at the stream head. Solution and collapse have formed an open grotto with a cave behind it. Eastern Phoebes regularly attach their nests to the ceiling of the grotto. Ahrns confides that the precarious location of such nests does not always protect nestlings from snakes, but their flimsiness motivates the nestlings to take flight as soon as possible. The cave and grotto contain a modest assortment of common dripstone structures, and the cave floor contains stratified deposits that are the subject of an archeological investigation.

Hays County Bird Checklist now available

Part of our chapter's "Snapshot of Hays County" project, the Hays County Bird Checklist has been printed and is now available.

The checklist is a must for anyone interested in the birds of our area and gives expected occurrence by season, nesting status, and a list of accidental sightings. The list was compiled from previous lists for Wimberley, San Marcos, San Marcos Springs, and the banding records of the Driftwood Wildlife Association. Nicely printed on card stock for
in-the-field use, the list will sell for 50ยข or $1.00 by mail (order from: Winifred Simon, P.O. Box 398, Wimberley, TX 78676).

Members of our current class will receive a copy at the next class meeting, so they do not need to order one. If anyone knows of good distribution sites besides the Wimberley and San Marcos tourist centers, please let me know by e-mail.


Additions to Hays County Fauna

Although butterfly activity in Wimberley and San Marcos has been at a much lower level than last year, we continue to add an occasional new species to the checklist of Hays County butterflies, a part of the Hays County Snapshot project.

June's prizes are the Mexican Silverspot and the California Sister.

Two Mexican Silverspots (Dione moneta) indulged in aerial displays with Black Swallowtails and Pipevine Swallowtails on top of Wimberley's Old Baldy. One was present from May 28 to June 2, and the second only on May 30.

The California Sister (Adelpha bredowii) obligingly perched on a juniper at 2:30 pm, June 9, just above RR 2325, at the foot of Old Baldy. It flew east after barely a minute.

While both these large and spectacular butterflies were out of their regular range, they have been reported as occasional visitors on species lists for Travis County.

We could not find photographs that do the Mexican Silverspot justice.

California Sister, Adelpha bredowii

HCMN Member stars in poetry contest

Winifred Simon has joined the ranks of Master Naturalists who are also published poets.

Jerry Hall, the Wimberley Birding Society's correspondent to The Wimberley View, sponsored a bird poetry contest in May and Winifred won the Shortest Poem category.

The Wimberley View published Winifred's winning couplet:

Don't know what you just heard?

Chances are it's a mockingbird.

How terse and true! Thank you, Winifred.


Volunteer Opportunities

Wildscape Garden, San Marcos Nature Center

HCMN Project # 405

The empty patches at the west end of the wildscape garden are filling up now. Betty Watkins, Winifred Simon, and Judy Telford have contributed native plants. We are watching them anxiously and hoping to nurse them through the hot, dry days of summer. There's no predicting which will flourish and which will vanish. A cardinal flower was trying to bloom prematurely on June 21.

If you have seeds, bulbs, hardy seedlings, or extra specimens of native annuals and perennials that need a home, we invite you to share them with the Wildscape Garden. Native plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds are doubly welcome. Gayfeathers, Indian paintbrush, standing cypress, Texas verbena, plains agalinis, zexmenia, blackfoot daisy, scarlet pea, palafoxia, dalea, slender vervain, phlox, blue-eyed grass, Herbertia, celestials, rain lily, copper lily, skeleton flower, Barbara buttons, prairie larkspur, skullcap, penstemon, ageratum, mistflower, or tansy, for example, please test them in the Wildscape Garden. If they can grow Texas bluebells at the old fish hatchery, we might as well try too.

The soil is a mixture of black clay and assorted stony scrapings from road shoulders. Much of it sits on a layer of asphalt paving or is leavened with lumps of asphalt paving. It's not what you would choose for a rose garden, but bluebonnets don't mind and other attractive native plants may flourish too and add colour throughout the year.

A prickly poppy or two would not be out of place, but we will have to think twice about bull nettles. We have enough trees, shrubs and sage, and more than enough lantana, ruellia, and pink evening primrose. Frogfruit and straggler daisies are also doing very nicely without encouragement.

Trail Building and Maintenance

HCMN Project # 424

DATE: On-going projects

ACTIVITY: Volunteers will selectively remove brush, trees, and rocks in new trail corridors, create new trails, and maintain existing trails They will be instructed on site by a crew manager.

SPONSORS: Corps of Engineers Canyon Lake Park; Camino Real Cycling Club (CRCC); Austin Ridge Riders Mountain Bike Club; San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance (SMGA); Hays County Parks Depts .

SPONSOR CONTACTS: James Buratti (CRCC), 512-245-3641, ; Todd Derkacz (SMGA), 512-754-9321, ; Jerry Pinnix (Hays Co), 512-393-2212,

HCMN CONTACT: Judy Telford, 512-353-8143, 2303 E McCarty Lane, San Marcos, TX 78666,


Volunteers can expect to cut and remove trees, brush and rocks in new trail corridors, create new trails, and groom existing trails. They are welcome to work as much or as little as they feel up to. We just want everyone to enjoy the process of creating new hiking and biking trails. Some are narrow, natural surface trails that are built by hand without motorized equipment.

There are opportunities for volunteers of all ages and experience. A crew manager will instruct volunteers in methods and safety on site. Safety is the first priority. Careful attention is paid to erosion prevention, proper pruning techniques, natural aesthetics and preservation of valuable natural elements.

Every SMGA session begins with a safety briefing. People who volunteer and who have zero experience with natural surface trails may be required to read a short text or receive a briefing on some basic trail techniques before they touch a tool.

Tools will be provided. Volunteers should bring work gloves, sturdy shoes, eye protection, and water.

All trail building is on public land such as Canyon Lake Park, Lake Georgetown Park, Hughson Park, Schulle Canyon, and other city and county parks as they are identified. Volunteers are usually required to sign a volunteer release from liability.

Volunteers who really enjoy the experience can attend a trail building school, usually held once a year.

CCC Butterfly and Hummingbird Gardens

HCMN Project 527

The Campus Christian Community at 604 N Guadalupe provides services to students, faculty, and staff at Texas State University and is the meeting site for the San Marcos Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship.

The building has some landscaping in the front, but it is not well maintained. In the gaps between existing plantings, we will fill the area with plants that will attract butterflies and hummingbirds. The back area is covered with St. Augustine grass.


Design and construct a butterfly & hummingbird garden with a meandering path.

Plant materials will be low-maintenance, natives.

Gather as much free compost, mulch, rocks, and plants as possible.

Maintain the garden.

Improve and enlarge as time and money are available.

The executive board of Hays County Master Naturalists has approved this new project. The HCMN contacts are Anne Allen, Barbara Jacobson, and Judy Telford.

Time to get ready for TPWD EXPO!
-- an easy way to get in those service hours!

Several Master Naturalist volunteers are needed to man the Master Naturalist display and Wildscapes tent at Wildlife EXPO this year. Expo will be held October 1st and 2nd on the grounds of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department's Headquarters in Austin. Volunteers are needed to help man the Master Naturalist display and surround the Wildscape and Wildlife Diversity tents.

The actual event occurs Saturday and Sunday from 8 AM to 5 PM each day. Volunteers would answer questions about the Master Naturalist program and assist with other activities being conducted at the display. The questions most often received are easy and range from: What would I do as a Master Naturalist? What does the training involve? Where do I obtain Training? How do I find a chapter near me? You already know the answers to all the questions. What you don't know (the phone number or email to a particular chapter, for example) will be provided for you in hard copy format on-site along with Texas Master Naturalist Brochures. You will also have time to walk around and see the event for yourself.

Available Shifts are as follows:
Saturday: Morning Shift: 7:30 AM to 12:30 Noon
Afternoon Shift: 12:30 noon to 5:30 PM
Sunday: Morning Shift: 7:30 AM to 12:30 Noon:
Afternoon Shift: 12:30 noon to 5:30 PM

If you are able to volunteer, please contact Michelle Haggerty. Working 8 hours at Expo gets you a free T-shirt

Volunteers Needed for TMN Annual Meeting
Several volunteers are still needed to assist with the Statewide Annual Meeting and Advanced Training. This year's meeting will be held October 21 to 23 at MO Ranch in Hunt, Texas.

Thank you to the dozens of you who have already responded. However, more volunteers are still needed. Volunteer help needed includes:

Prior to and during the meeting:
- Project Fair Coordinator(s)
- Coordinator(s) of vendors for the Naturalists Store
- Photo and Art Contest Coordinator(s)
- Soliciting Door Prizes
- Door Prize Coordinator(s)
- Collecting Pictures/slides for the slide show
- Slide Show Coordinator(s)
- Welcome Packet/Goody Bag Coordinator

During the meeting:
- Check-in and Registration Table
- AV check in/out table
- Room Hosts/Field Trip Hosts (If you want to absolutely guarantee your attendance at a particular Annual Meeting training/session then sign up to be a room host or field trip host!)
- Social and Project Fair set-up

All Annual Meeting volunteers will receive a special gift and recognition at the Annual Meeting. Call/Email Michelle Haggerty to sign up or to obtain more details as they become available.


State News

Local News




Chimney Swifts: America's Mysterious Birds above the Fireplace by Paul D. Kyle and Georgean Z. Kyle. 152 pp. 41 color and 4 b&w photos. 28 line drawings. Map. Bib. Index.
College Station: Texas A&M University Press. $34.00 cloth $16.95 paper

If you live in a home with a fireplace, you may have provided a home for one of nature's most beneficial creatures-the Chimney Swift. These birds migrate each spring from the Amazon River Basin to North America to breed and raise their young. They begin arriving in the southern U.S. in mid-March, and their nesting period lasts from May through August. Chimney Swifts are among the most nurturing of wildlife, mating for life and devoting themselves to providing for their young. They also benefit humans, dining on pesky insects such as mosquitoes, flies, and termites. A baby Chimney Swift alone will eat as many as 2400 insects each day.

Authors Paul and Georgean Kyle first encountered a Chimney Swift in 1983, and immediately fell in love with this unique bird. They have since turned their eight-acre homestead near Austin, Texas, into a world-renowned Chimney Swift sanctuary and research station. Together they have observed, researched, hand-reared, and rehabilitated these birds.

When the Kyles learned that changes in chimney construction and negative homeowner attitudes have caused a drastic decline in the numbers of Chimney Swifts over the last thirty years, they became determined to reverse this decline in population. They have made enlightening the public about these beneficial birds their mission. In Chimney Swifts, they share the knowledge they've gained, exploring their natural history and biology, providing advice for peaceful coexistence with Chimney Swifts and for creating new habitat for these birds. A companion construction guide, Chimney Swift Towers: New Habitat for America's Mysterious Birds is also available from Texas A&M University Press.

PAUL D. KYLE and GEORGEAN Z. KYLE are project directors of the Driftwood Wildlife Association's North American Chimney Swift Nest Site Research Project, an all-volunteer effort to expand public awareness about the beneficial nature and the plight of Chimney Swifts. Participation across North America in this project has produced a growing number of people who are now constructing nesting towers and conducting Chimney Swift conservation projects in their own communities.

Chimney Swifts is available at stores or directly from Texas A&M University Press; 800-826-8911 M-F 8-5 CT; secure online ordering at


Links to Chapter Sponsors and Partners


Texas Master Naturalist - State Website -
Texas Cooperative Extension -
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department -


Bamberger Ranch -- LBJ Wildflower Center -- Native Plant Society of Texas -
Texas Cooperative Extension - Sea Grant Program -
Texas Forest Service -
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers -
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service -
U.S.D.A. Natural Resource Conservation Service -


© 2005 Hays County Master Naturalists