Golden Cheek Warbler nesting season begins March 1

The City of San Marcos released maps that clearly show the trails and areas that are closed from March 1 to May 31, 2017 to protect the nesting golden-cheeked warbler. 
From the City of San Marcos web site:
"The golden-cheeked warbler is an endangered species of bird that breeds only in central Texas and nests in the Ashe-juniper and oak found in some of our natural areas. In an effort to protect these rare birds certain trails in Purgatory Creek Natural Area (Paraiso) and Spring Lake Natural Area (NW Blue Stem, Grey Fox, Porcupine and Roadrunner trails) will be closed from March 1-May 31 annually."
Click here for maps of closed areas. 

[Reprinted from past years posts. The CoSM acquired several of these properties with monies from TPWD and USFWS with the stipulation that these areas would be protected.]  -LJ

San Marcos River Walkers have two 5K walks March 18

Barbara Piersol ready to walk even in cedar season
   San Marcos river Walkers have two 5k walks lined-up for Saturday, March 18. The first 5k loop leads to Prospect Park from the Dunbar Center at 801 Martin Luther King Street. The walk leads past karst features, live oak and ashe juniper woods to a meadow that should be blooming with bluebonnets. The heritage "Learning Tree" and stargazing circle are also sights on the trail.
   The downtown 5k loop is designed to pass murals which are part of a recent art program aimed at beautifying San Marcos. Walkers register at the Dunbar Center anytime after 8 a.m. and must finish by 3 p.m. Registration is $3 and goes to the local chapter of the American Volksport Association
Contact Barbara Piersol for more information at


Writing With Nature

 "In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks." -John Muir

The great outdoors can be an inspirational place. Nature has been a subject of writings and poems for many years. Why not try your hand at a story or poem while you’re out on the trails? If you’re new to creative writing, or just need some inspiration, here are a few ideas to get you started:

·         If you get lost in your thoughts while roaming through nature, why not write some of those thoughts down?
·         What part of nature are you most thankful for, and why?
·         What is your favorite season?
·         Write a short story or poem from the perspective of something in nature.
·         If you were an element (air, water, earth, fire), which one would you be?
·         Co-writing: bring a friend (or two, or more!) with you on an adventure. Write the first sentence of a story, then pass it off to the next person to continue the story. There's no telling which direction this will go!
·         Concrete poetry is a form of poetry where the words on the page resemble a shape. Look around for objects that you could write a poem about and also position the words on the page to take the same shape, like a leaf, a tree, or a flower.

If you like to write in a journal, consider using journals and pencils made from recycled materials. Or, go paperless and keep your writings in notes on your phone so you can write as you go.

Happy writing!

Second Bird Walk of 2017 Is Rewarded with Numerous Sightings

Scanning the trees past Blood Pits
   The new year is already resulting in great birding in the San Marcos natural areas. This time 27 different species were recorded including a Blue-headed Vireo, a Ladder-backed Woodpecker, an assortment of warblers, sparrows and 60 Black-bellied Whistling Ducks which make the top of our list.
   The early, drizzly start for 20 birders began with the birds calling. It took a few minutes for the first sighting and then it just cascaded into searching all the leafless trees. Loudest were the American Crows and best formation flying went to the Cedar Waxwings.
   Monthly birding walks are sponsored by the Greenbelt Alliance and led by Stephen Ramirez. This month he was ably assisted by Gabby Cole who also does a monthly bug walk. Each group has a Facebook page and are intended for area residents to get outdoors and enjoy the natural areas.

Ringtail Ridge natural area, 2017February04, 0730

27 species

60        Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna autumnalis
2          Gadwall Anas strepera
1          Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
1          Red-shouldered Hawk Buteo lineatus
1          Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
2          Golden-fronted Woodpecker Melanerpes aurifrons
2          Ladder-backed Woodpecker Picoides scalaris
2          Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe
1          Blue-headed Vireo Vireo solitarius
4          American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos
X         Carolina Chickadee Poecile carolinensis
X         Black-crested Titmouse Baeolophus atricristatus
1          House Wren Troglodytes aedon
X         Carolina Wren Thryothorus ludovicianus
X         Bewick's Wren Thryomanes bewickii
1          Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Polioptila caerulea
X         Ruby-crowned Kinglet Regulus calendula
1          American Robin Turdus migratorius
1          Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos
12        Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum
1          Orange-crowned Warbler Oreothlypis celata
X         Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) Setophaga coronata coronata
X         Lincoln's Sparrow Melospiza lincolnii
X         Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
1          Pyrrhuloxia Cardinalis sinuatus
5          Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus
X         American Goldfinch Spinus tristis

Writing Class Gets Inspiration

  Texas State University's English/Honors class second field trip of the semester went to Prospect Park, the place where the San Marcos Greenbelt began. Once again, my friend Todd Derkacz gave the class an inspiring talk on not only the background of the Greenbelt, but also the importance such natural spaces have in our lives.
Todd Derkacz views signage for founding member, Inge van Nynatten
   Since the founding of the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance in 1998, Todd has served the organization in several capacities--as a board member, as president, and, always, as a volunteer. He's one of a dozen or so members who meet every Thursday morning to work on trails or other projects in one of the system's five major natural areas: Purgatory Creek Natural Area (Upper Purgatory, Lower Purgatory, and Prospect Park), Blanco Shoals, Ringtail Ridge Natural Area, Schulle Canyon Natural Area, and Spring Lake Natural Area.
   In early April, members of my class will be back in Prospect Park to work as part of Bobcat Build. My hope is that they'll return even before that to get to know the place a little better.Having a space like this in the middle of a growing city is priceless. 

** Note: Among the things Todd talked about, was the work of Inga Van Nynatten, in whose memory this trail is dedicated. Inga's mother wrote this after her daughter's death at the age of 30. I never knew Inga, but after reading this, I certainly wish I had:…  
-- Susan C. Hansen, Professor, English Honors