There's an App for That!

When we are out in nature we often want to identify and photograph what we see so we can share and learn from the experience. Well, the elves at the phone & tablet store have been very busy making and improving on the tools you can use on your iPhone or Android and now even on your tablets.
Here are some applications that may interest you, and they are all free.
BirdLog NA
Colton Robbins enters our bird sightings.
At the Apple store or Android store you can find the free app for the Bird Log North America (other continents available). It’s a simple to use application for recording your bird sightings.  When you complete your hike (it asks how many people were contributing to the list and how long/far you hiked) you can submit the list to eBird which is the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and National Audubon Society database.
There’s lots of help and FAQs (frequently asked questions) are available to guide you through the process.  All of the apps have a website that offer additional information and guidance. On your home computer you can spend more time at but it’s really an easy process.  
If you are birding in Hays County please submit your sightings to eBird. The Hays County Master Naturalists are working on a multi-faceted project to identify good, public birding spots -- your list works toward that goal.  
This app, designed by two biologists, allows you to access guides, record sightings, and share with your group or everyone that is plugged-in. The website is the place to go for an explanation of what this powerful app can do.
Did you know that under the ‘Projects’ tab there is a whole library of projects for Texas? “Skunks of Texas” and ‘Species of Hays County, Texas” made by high school science students are but two. Wild Basin in Austin also has a couple projects posted.
Merlin Bird ID
 This app is from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and is so easy, I can use it! The app starts by asking where you saw the bird, when you saw the bird, what was the size of the bird, what were the main colors, what was the bird doing and then creates a list of possible birds complete with photographs to confirm.
Texas Invasives
We are a large state and are constantly being invaded … by plants, animals, insects and diseases that wreak havoc on the natives. The recently redesigned app couldn’t be simpler to use. In the field, identify the plant, take a picture, save it and the automatic GPS location, answer three or four simple questions and then upload when you’re ready.  I use the Wi-Fi feature on my tablet when I get home.  There’s an on-line course that you can take.  Chapter 11 of the Citizen Scientist ~ On Line Training can help with any questions. You do need to register as a user.  This information will help as the different armies make their way across the state, whether it’s common salvinia or Emerald Ash borer. The website is
– Lance Jones

New Location for September Birding Hike

   Our monthly birding hike traveled to a new and rewarding location this month.  Stephen Ramirez met us at Five Mile Dam on the Blanco River early on the first Saturday of September. The Hays County park is located on Stagecoach Road north of San Marcos.
Looking at a Green Heron across the bank.
   Whenever there is water there are birds and this was certainly true as we spied a number of species not normally seen on previous hikes. The Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper and Loggerhead Shrike were all welcome additions.
    Although we are currently in a drought the Blanco River had sufficient water to offer respite for most of the birds we saw. The complete listing, provided again by Colton Robbins, lists 29 species. The short hike along the river lasted less than 90 minutes.
   The group of early morning risers stays pretty constant at around an even dozen with a handful of regulars and another group of avid birders that participate on an intermittent basis. The hikes are open to all levels of interest and Stephen is certainly knowledgeable enough to answer most birding questions. Contact him at to be included in next month's hike.  --LJ

Five Mile Dam, Blanco River September 6, 2014

Great Blue Heron                       4
Green Heron                                1
Red-tailed Hawk                         1
Killdeer                                         8
Spotted Sandpiper                       1
Inca Dove                                      6
White-winged Dove                    101
Mourning Dove                           8
Golden-fronted Woodpecker    1
Ladder-backed Woodpecker     1
Eastern Phoebe                           3
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher           1
Loggerhead Shrike                     2
White-eyed Vireo                        1
American Crow                           1
Barn Swallow                               2
Swallow sp.                                   20
Black-crested Titmouse             2
Canyon Wren                               1
Carolina Wren                             1
Bewick’s Wren                             1
Northern Mockingbird              35
Yellow Warbler                           4
Lark Sparrow                               2
Northern Cardinal                      3
Painted Bunting                          1
Great-tailed Grackle                   3
Brown-headed Cowbird             2

Pack it in, Pack it out

A hike out at Blanco Shoals and Purgatory Creek is definitely worth the trip! Check out the beautiful new trash cans painted by Hunter McMain for her Girl Scout Gold Project. Nice work Hunter!

Trail Tips: Hydrate

Whether going for a long hike or a hard ride, be sure to stay hydrated when you're out on the trails. #trailtip #smtx ​