Wild Sighting - 2012/01/29

Waiting to Feed

Conditions: Drought conditions continue with the last moisture recorded (.16") on 1/25/2012.  Warmer than normal seasonal temperatures prevail.  Personal water supply is recommended for visits exceeding 1 hour.

Observances: All reptiles remain dormant. No sightings reported.  No observances of flying or crawling insects reported. Bird sightings include House Finch, Bobwhite Quail, Eurasian Collard-Dove, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Western Meadowlark and Red-winged Blackbird. New plants exhibit stress from lack of moisture, older plants remain dormant, stalks of most tall grasses and annuals are dead and are almost two years old.

I spotted a Preying Mantis egg case along the Upper Bluff Trail which had several small holes in the outer case. Have insects invaded the case and laid eggs which will hatch and then eat the Preying Mantis larva?  In another location near the Visitor's Center, an egg case has vanished completely.  Was it taken by animal or human?

This is an unusually beautiful day for the end of January on the Texas High Plains. Under clear skies, calm wind and a high of 62F we had quite a few guests and members walking the trails at Wildcat Bluff Nature Center.

Can you identify what this is?

Under the current dry conditions and recent high winds, many parts of the trails contain loose soil which easily captures an impression of human shoe soles.

The Desert Mule Deer will sometimes share the designated nature trails with people, Keep an eye out for them!  Their trails (which you should never follow) sometimes join with the people trails.  Loud noises or quick movements such as running will drive them away and you are less likely to see them.

Many residents of the Texas High Plains believe the Mesquite trees will not put out leaves until the last freeze of the season. How do the Mesquite know?  Is this belief based on fact or legend?  Help us prove it right or wrong.  Your recorded observances will help us to be smarter about the natural environment we occupy.

The Mesquite tree has a habit of shedding limbs, especially as moisture is less available to them for growth.  Branches with these sturdy thorns (which can easily puncture a truck tire) can be quite painful if stepped on. They will go right through a tough shoe sole.  This is one reason you will not want to wander off the designated trails.  During the warm months of the year, snakes will seek refuge under the shade of Mesquite trees and clumps of Yucca plants. More reasons why you will want to stay on the clear designated trails where reptiles are easily spotted.

We have received recently some nice compliments about the lack of litter at our facilities. This is largely due to the members and guests who help pick up after those who act less responsibly.  The water bottle pictured above is at least several months old and I must admit I am sure to have missed it a number of times while walking the trails.  It is always easy to blame our recent strong winds which can carry plastic sacks for several miles from town before they become snagged by a prickly plant.

Never the less... once spotted, the plastic is now destined for recycling.  It was the only litter find I made today.  Our goal is to preserve this land as a wildlife preserve.  Where we do our best to preserve the natural habitat and behavior of our native residents.  You are invited to come and observe our residents with as minimal impact as humans can make upon their home territory.

I have posted some information about the ethics of human intrusion on our facilities adapted from the use of public lands ethics suggested by the Leave no Trace organization.  Please visit their web site to learn more about ethical usage of publicly accessible lands which can benefit our state and city parks as well.

To sum it up, begin learning about a public park or nature preserve by looking for posted material on bulletin boards when you visit.  Leave anything you find exactly as you find it.  Carry out everything you brought in and any litter you find.  Leave only your footprints behind.  Take with you only the joy and memories of your visit and we hope you share them with us on Facebook or comments below.

I encourage you to share your your discoveries and observations.  Post comments and photos on this site or on our Facebook social account.

Encourage others to experience the unique facilities we have preserved and maintain on the Texas High Plains by sharing your visits with others.  Be sure to "Check In" to our official locations on Facebook and Google+ if you have a smart phone.  Free open Wi-Fi is available near both of the buildings at our headquarters.

Special programs are available to our members by reservation only and unavailable to guests.  Become a member this year for the cost of one family meal out and enjoy a full year of  peaceful pleasure on the natural Texas High Plains!