Thursday, April 21, 2016

Texas Master Naturalist Program

Back in January I started taking the Texas Master Naturalist course, and on April 19th I completed it.  This is something I have always wanted to pursue, and now, while working at Quinta Mazatlan, it seemed the perfect time to take these classes and get certified.

The Texas Master Naturalist Program's mission is as follows:

The Mission: To develop a corps of well-informed volunteers to provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities for the State of Texas.

At the state level, the Texas Master Naturalist program is sponsored jointly by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD)

I had to complete forty hours of combined field and classroom instruction though the South Texas Border Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists, which was done at Bentsen Rio Grande State Park.  I also had to do forty hours of volunteer work and have eight hours of advanced training.

We met once a week for classes with two different instructors every week speaking on subjects germane to our becoming Texas Master Naturalists.

The classes were on Land Stewardship, Archaeology, Historical Naturalists of Texas, Ecological Regions of Texas, Ecological Concepts, Geology, Weather, Plants, Ornithology, Entomology, Ichthyology, Herpetology, Mammalogy, Land Management, Laws, Regulations and Ethics.

Field trips included making fish prints at the The Coastal Studies Laboratory on South Padre Island, the La Puerta Tract, Sabal Palm and Estero Llano Grande State Park.

The fish prints were interesting.  They're a traditional Japanese art form called Gyotaku, from the 1800s, that allowed fishermen to record their catches.
You take a dead fish, paint it, and then place rice paper over it and rub until the image is transferred to the paper.

My first attempt I had bird brain, as mine looked more like a Northern Cardinal than a fish.

My second attempt was a little better.

Our next field trip was to the La Puerta Brush Tract in Starr County.
La Puerta is a 4,000 acre tract that is three miles east of Rio Grande City, Texas on Hwy. 83
There are a couple of native plants that grow here that grow nowhere else in the United States.

I got some pictures of a couple of the native plants that aren't endangered.

Sabal Palm is always a neat place to visit.  We don't go often because it's down in Brownsville.

We were thrilled to see a Great Horned Owl 

These field trips were to show us the native flora and fauna and landscape of where we live in the Rio Grande Valley.

Estero Llano Grande State Park is one of my favorite places to visit in the Valley.

Black Necked Stilt


We had our graduation ceremony at Estero Llano Grande State Park.
I baked a Key Lime Pound Cake for the dinner.

I received a certificate and a Dragonfly Pin for completing all the requirements.

Our graduating class:

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Finding My Joy

Ever since I got hired at Quinta Mazatlan World Birding Center as a program assistant, my days have been filled with joy. I never know what new wonder will greet me as I go about my duties in one of the most beautiful places in McAllen, Texas.
Just to be able to walk around the alluring house and grounds would be gratifying in itself, but I also get to be surrounded by the birds and nature that I so love.

Walkway to house.

Quinta Mazatlan built in the 1930's

I get greeted by the Plain Chachalacas as I'm putting out the bird seed and the suet and oranges for the day.

A Great Kiskadee waits impatiently for me to finish.

I travel through the park and as I get to the second feeding station I see our resident Javelina watching me.

I then see this Eastern Cottontail enjoying a breakfast of Night Blooming Cereus

On another day, John, our staff naturalist, introduces me to a new bug,

It's a Flag-footed bug. This beautiful insect has what looks like flags at the end of it's feet, which it uses to create a diversion when confronted by a predator. It is only fund here in the US in Southern Texas.

Each day is a learning experience as I'm surrounded by people willing to tell me about the plants, bugs, and other natural wonders of Quinta Mazatlan and the unique Rio Grande Valley.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Dragon Colors

Fly, Dragonfly!

Water nymph, you have
climbed from the shallows to don
your dragon-colors.
Perched on a reed stem
all night, shedding your skin, you dry
your wings in moonlight.
Night melts into day.
Swift birds wait to snap you up.
Fly, dragonfly! Fly!

All photos by Kathy Detweiler

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Things Other Than Butterflies

During the butterfly festival there were a lot of other things to be seen other than the butterflies.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

20th Annual Texas Butterfly Festival Field Trip Day 3

On our third day Mike Rickard and Ginny Musgrave led our next trip to Palo Alto, Resaca de la Palma and Camp Lula Sams.

I fell in love with the beautiful Guava Skipper.  Just look at those colors!

Gorgeous caterpillar


After we left Resaca de la Palma, we went to Camp Lulu Sams.  Camp Lula Sams was built by the Earl C Sams Foundation and gifted to the Girl Scouts of South Texas in 1953.  Mike was sure we would see a Pale-rayed Skipper or a Strophius Hairstreak and we were fortunate enough to see both.

If you ever have an opportunity to attend the Texas Butterfly festival I highly recommend it.  I learned so much in those three days, and had such an enjoyable time.