We Need Your Help - Volunteer

Crew on Malacoda trail.
Volunteers are encouraged to join SMGA members in cleaning up more than 10 miles of trails in Purgatory and Prospect. There's a lot of work to be done but first you need to complete a volunteer form. There's a brief orientation that we'll ask you to go through. If you come for trail work in flip-flops and shorts we gotta send you home. There's sharp (tools), pointy (cactus) things out in the wild, and we don't want you to get hurt. Even though you'll sign a waiver it's just good relations to start right -- and safe.

When do we work? Most Thursdays (not Christmas Eve but New Year's Eve) from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. You'll get an eMail the afternoon before as to the location and directions. We also have a Saturday crew that works most weeks 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. that is focused on Sessoms natural area. We do like our coffee and often meet at a local coffee house after and discuss our next work project.

We're starting a new crew January 4th on Monday afternoons from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Some of our younger crew might like this better than those cold, early mornings. We hope to have a restoration crew that replaces invasives with native grasses and wildflowers. Right now we have a feral hog problem and we want to use the opportunity of "tilled" soil with appropriate grass seeding.

We'd love to have you or your group join us for a day, or the next few years. There's certainly a need and every bit of ownership you put in results in an investment in our future.

Working on a re-route for Roadrunner trail.
Purgatory Creek Natural Area took a big hit October 30, 2015 when more than 10" of rain fell in a few hours right over San Marcos. The enormity of the water in a short time was not rare in the area known as "flash flood alley". The San Marcos natural areas provide floodzone buffers and help to insure good quality rainwater flowing into the Edwards aquifer, as well as the  San Marcos and Blanco Rivers.

Exciting Spring Lake birding hike

  There were only seven of us on a cold morning Dec. 5 but the light was golden and steam rose from the lake. And the birds were out. When you read Colton Robbin's list you'll see we saw 39 different species of birds and the numbers of each kept our binoculars up and viewing the antics of each species.
  Stephen Ramirez led the hike as we enter the fifth-year of monthly birding hikes around San Marcos. Colton brought persistence as he tried to identify the hummingbird who continued to visit a nearly leafless, small tree on the lake. The sighting was unusual for the time of year but the tiny bird refused to stay in one place very long. Colton's persistence paid a dividend when he studied the circling vultures too numerous to count. One bird flew a little lower and had different characteristics from the Turkey and Black Vultures was a Zone-tailed Hawk.
Zone-tailed Hawk photo by Colton Robbins

   Colton said, “ Seen with the San Marcos monthly birding group. Juvenile due to lack of strong bands in tail and lack of dark trailing edge along the wings. Distinguished from Turkey Vultures by the curved yellow beak. The bird circled the area repeatedly, sometimes flying alone and other times flying with nearby vultures. It generally flew lower than the vultures and several times flew directly over the group of birders, giving fantastic views. We watched it for at least 20 minutes and it was still present when we left the location.  At one point it burst through a close sycamore tree full of American goldfinches and sent them scattering. Very Exciting!!”
   We also watched one of two Belted Kingfishers as he downed a small fish while perched on the handrail of the boardwalk that was damaged in the October flood. 
   The birding walks occur on the first Saturday of the month in the early morning. Contact Stephen@birdsiview.org  to be notified of time and location. Lists can be found in earlier posts to this blog and at eBird. --LJ

Spring Lake, San Marcos December 5, 2015
Fall colors as we view the Osprey perched across the lake.
39 species

Snow Goose  22     Flyovers
Pied-billed Grebe  4
Double-crested Cormorant  2
Great Blue Heron  2
Great Egret  1
Black Vulture  X
Turkey Vulture  X
Osprey  1
Red-shouldered Hawk  2
Zone-tailed Hawk  1   
White-winged Dove  12
Mourning Dove  2
Belted Kingfisher  2
Golden-fronted Woodpecker  1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  2
Downy Woodpecker  1
Eastern Phoebe  1
Couch's Kingbird  1
Blue-headed Vireo  1
Blue Jay  2
Carolina Chickadee  3
Black-crested Titmouse  1
Carolina Wren  3
Bewick's Wren  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  2
Northern Mockingbird  3
European Starling  30
Cedar Waxwing  25
Yellow-rumped Warbler  10
Chipping Sparrow  1
Field Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  2
Lincoln's Sparrow  1
Northern Cardinal  2
Great-tailed Grackle  2
House Finch  3
American Goldfinch  20
House Sparrow  2