Sunday was hot. It is of course, summer in Texas, so that should come as no surprise. Other than being at home, soaking up the air conditioning, there is no better place to be than in the water. Even when that water registers 90 degrees on the thermometer.
I had planned a Nature Trackers Mussel Watch for Sunday at Lake Arrowhead State Park. I usually like to get up early to go, but had set a later time of 10 AM since my husband doesn't like to get up so early (not that he was planning to go--he just babysits the critters while I am gone). The Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists conduct a number of Nature Tracker programs (www.tpwd.state.tx.us/learning/texas_nature_trackers) during the year. The primary one I am involved with is counting mussels in various waterways in our area. Sundays are not a good time to schedule these events as most of our members are dedicated church goers. However, between my schedule and the other chapter projects planned during the summer, there were few options left. And as it happened, I was the only one able to make it. But that was fine--it is easier to combine a mussel count with birdwatching by myself.
As it happened, it was a great day for mussels. There is one area at Lake Arrowhead that predictably had a high count and that is where I headed. Pink papershells, fragile papershells, giant floaters and Texas Lilliputs were in good number. Later, sorting shells on the tailgate of my pickup, where my thermometer was recording 120 degrees (who decided to make bed liners black, anyway?), I was less enthusiastic about the numbers to sort out.
I keep meaning to learn more of the freshwater invertebrates. There were a lot of them to see. But I had neglected to bring my freshwater invertebrate field guide (yes, they make them; yes, I am a geek for having one) and hand lens, so stuck to mussels and birds.
Birds were also good. The herons and egrets haven't yet headed south, so there were numbers of great egrets and snowy egrets. I also saw a green heron. But it is also obvious migration is underway. A few cormorant were sunning of the pier (soon there will be thousands). A few white-faced ibis and a reddish egret were wading near the shore, and a small flock of terns were fussing. Terns are difficult for me. I have the identification narrowed to two possibilities and need to get out my CD of bird calls to resolve the matter. A couple of peeps flew past, too fast for me to make a call on the little guys.
Overall, a great morning. My husband could tell I had a good time when I came home wet, covered with mud and with a red nose from the sun. Life just doesn't get any better.