From TPWD: Great Texas Birding Classic Registration Open

Register your team today at Master Naturalists, birders, communities, Great Texas Wildlife Trail site managers, park naturalists, nature centers, bird clubs, families, friends, school groups, and more are all invited to take part in this fun event!Participate from anywhere in Texas, April 15 - May 15.Watch this video to see what it's all about. Find all tournament details, tips from previous teams, rules, registration form, participation categories, and additional information online now!

Fitscription Kick-off for the Whole Family - Volunteers Invited

The San Marcos Healthy City Task Force is excited to announce that a Fitscription event will be held on Saturday, April 5th from 8am to 12pm. Fitscription is a way for medical providers to encourage clients to be active using San Marcos' natural areas. SMGA researched and conducted initial development of Fitscription before it was adopted by the HCTF.  The spring kick-off event will coincide with the San Marcos River Walkers' annual walk along the San Marcos river and through historic sites of the city. All walkers who check in with Fitscription at the time of their arrival will be able to walk the event for free! Children under 12 will need to be accompanied by an adult. Please see the flyer for more details.

We invite everyone to come walk with us, and we are looking for volunteers to help guide people on the route. A little bit of your time will be greatly appreciated! Please contact Chad Starrak at for more information on volunteering at the event.

SMGA Outreach Committee Members Sought

Description: SMGA's Outreach Committee is looking for committee members who are interested in helping us shape and define our outreach efforts. Our committee meets roughly once a month for 1.5 hours to discuss projects including our web site, email updates / blog, enrollment, public relations efforts, etc.
Approximate time requirement: 2 to 6 hours / month
Desired skills: Team player familiar with the web and word processing. Enjoys communicating in writing.
For questions or to volunteer, contact: Outreach Committee by emailing

Sun City hiking club tackles Spring Lake natural area

Nineteen enthusiastic hikers took a 5.8 mile hike of the Spring Lake Natural Area. They were led by SMGA volunteers Dick McBride, Joel Barks and Lance Jones. Driving down from Georgetown the group carpooled to the Meadows Center where they gathered for a quick briefing then started uphill.
Waving farewell at the overlook. Photo by Dick McBride.
They set a relatively quick pace walking most of the trails in 3 hours and 18 minutes. Fortunately for the fitness group the wildflowers had not yet bloomed but the abundance of bluebonnets in the meadow was evident. Unfortunately, this is the area closed for the Golden-cheeked warbler nesting.

Last year the group hiked Purgatory Creek natural area for eight miles and plan on doing it again this year before the summer heat.
More photos at


Foggy morning for the March birding hike

Stephen sets the scope while we search the trees.
Winter just doesn't seem to want to leave this year. Saturday, March 1st was a foggy morning in San Marcos. Birding enthusiasts met at Spring Lake near the Meadows Center for an abbreviated hike led by Stephen Ramirez and Jonny Scalise.   

There were 19 of us with binoculars anxious to see what was new.  We were rewarded with lots of cedar waxwings busy enjoying the berries available on the trees. Red-shouldered hawks busy constructing their nest also provided much viewing interest.

Due to the heavy fog we were not able to spy long distances or discern color very well. The usual suspects on the lake were hidden from view so the ducks and other water birds were not seen as readily and listed on the report sent to eBird. Still, an hour spent outdoors enjoying nature is an hour to remember.

Complete listing of the birds seen [thanks to Gene Majors]:
1 Muscovy Duck (Domestic type)
3 Wood Duck
8 Gadwall
1 Pied-billed Grebe
1 Double-crested Cormorant
1 Great Blue Heron
1 Black Vulture
2 Red-shouldered Hawk
4 White-winged Dove
2 Mourning Dove
2 Golden-fronted Woodpecker
2 Downy Woodpecker
1 Eastern Phoebe
2 Carolina Chickadee
2 Black-crested Titmouse
1 Carolina Wren
1 Bewick's Wren
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
X Cedar Waxwing
X Yellow-rumped Warbler
1 Common Yellowthroat
1 Swamp Sparrow
2 Northern Cardinal
1 American Goldfinch

Bastard cabbage under attack at Ringtail Ridge

And that's a good thing. Bastard cabbage also known as turnip-weed, common giant mustard, ball mustard, wild turnip, wild rape and tall mustard-weed and the scientific name, Rapistrum rugosum.  It is designated a terrestrial noxious-weed seed in the state of Texas.*

Two years ago Schulle Canyon, Ringtail Ridge and Blanco Shoals natural areas were overrun with the fast spreading plant. It's not just the natural areas but area highways, parks and vacant lots are often covered with the little yellow flowering plant that can achieve heights of five and six feet when conditions are right.
Dick McBride uses hand tools to uproot the bastard cabbage.

What does invasive mean?  No wildflowers. No native grasses. And all the insects and wildlife that thrive on native plants.

The small crew of volunteers attack the plant with string trimmers, hand tools and rakes and hoes. Seemingly the huge undertaking is beginning to show results.  After an area is weeded then grass seed purchased by the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance and native wildflower seed donated  by local groups are spread over the tilled soil. With this winter's rains we're seeing something different on the surface of the soil.

There's still much work to be done.  Volunteers meet Sunday afternoons at Ringtail Ridge and tackle the project.  For more information go to the "Contact Us" tab on the homepage of the website of

More photos at