Monday, October 27, 2008

Master Naturalist Meeting

Each year Texas Master Naturalists (TMN) from throughout the state meet for three days at their annual meeting and advanced training. This year we were back at Mo Ranch, near Hunt, TX. I love it there. The facility is right on the Guadalupe River and is far from a sizeable town. One of the best things about the remote area is the stars. It has been a long time since I have been able to clearly see so many stars. I had forgotten just how awe inspiring it is to see the Milky Way. There were also meteors both nights we were there.

I did have some time to do a little bird watching in between various classes. I saw the following birds: canyon wren, Carolina wren, Carolina chickadee, northern cardinal, European starling, house finch, golden-fronted woodpecker, black tufted titmouse, Inca dove, black vulture, and turkey vulture. We did see a lot of butterflies and a fellow TMN member managed to finish her Monarch tagging for the season. But there were many other butterflies than Monarchs. We also saw deer and black squirrels. Driving back to Wichita Falls on Sunday, the highlights were lots of Eastern bluebirds and kestrels, as well as Swainson's and Red-tailed hawks.

As usual there were interesting classes. I participated in classes on beetles, Nature Trackers, and cactus moth infestation of the prickly pear cactus. And, as always, we came back with lots of ideas for more projects for our chapter. Not that we have enough time to do all of the projects we have now, but I guess there is always room for more. I think we all agreed we want to take part in monitoring invasive plant species, monitor prairie dog populations and watch for cactus moth infestation. The local chapter (Rolling Plains) won an award for our Horned Lizard DNA sampling project.

It was a great mini-vacation. I am already looking forward to next year.

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