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Nature's Crossroads: Newsletter of the Alamo Area Master Naturalist,
May 2021

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Editor's note: Enjoy our latest newsletter, including the winners from our Spring Photo Contest. Be sure to connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, or our Blog series. See you on the trail! - Krin Van Tatenhove, Class 45
Next AAMN Board Meeting: This will be a Zoom meeting on May 11, 2021. Please note: there will be no "after board meeting" AT presentation in May. 
     A nonprofit needs regular input from its members, so if you have a concern or suggestion, contact one of our current Board Members.
Here is the list.

A Message From Our President, Gary Poole

     It occurred to me recently that sometimes we have a narrow view of volunteering. We focus on our various projects: clearing invasives, planting native gardens, or doing citizen science as part of a bioblitz. These are all worthwhile and satisfying activities.
     But so much of what we do is made possible by the work, education, and planning done by the administration of our organization. I’m talking about the officers, board members, and committee members who spend time tracking our finances, organizing our training classes, producing our newsletter, maintaining and updating our social media and calendar, dealing with all our membership and volunteering questions and issues. These folks could be outside enjoying the Texas spring with friends while restoring a butterfly garden, but instead they’re sitting at a laptop or on the phone doing chapter business, or in a Zoom committee meeting. Often invisible, these volunteers are the infrastructure of our chapter making everything flow smoothly.
     There is so much institutional knowledge among our members and especially those in administrative positions. Whatever role these folks are now in, they remember their experiences and history when they served in other capacities. I know sometimes we’ll be in a board meeting and a question will come up, like “Have we ever thought about doing it this way?” or “Why do we have this arrangement with…?” And there’s always someone who, from their memory banks, recalls pertinent information from the past that can answer the question without us having to reinvent the wheel.
     But as time goes on, people move or take on new responsibilities in their lives, and the Alamo Chapter loses some of its institutional knowledge. This makes what we do harder and what we can achieve smaller. This situation is not unique to the Alamo Chapter. However, because we are essentially a state-sponsored organization and a nonprofit, we have very specific legal and financial responsibilities that many other types of organizations or “clubs” don’t have. This condition makes retaining institutional knowledge that much more important for us.
     To this end, I would like to propose the creation of some form of internship program which would allow chapter members to “shadow” current board members or officers in order to learn something about the responsibilities and history of those positions. These interns would self-nominate and choose an area or areas in which they have an interest. Obviously, I don’t have much in the way of details as this needs a thorough discussion and analysis among our board members. But to me it seems that some program of this type would strengthen our chapter. It would also relieve some of the stress that board members experience when they feel that the time has come for them to move on. This program could also make the workings of chapter administration more transparent.  
     We can only achieve the goals of our mission with a strong, vital chapter. Which is why I would like input on this idea. I will be introducing this at the next meeting and we can weigh in during the June meeting.  As a reminder, all AAMN members are welcome to attend our board meetings, albeit only board members are allowed to vote on proposals. 
     Thank you all for everything you do for the natural world!

Service Awards - May 2021

ANNUAL CERTIFICATION
An annual re-certification is awarded to a Master Naturalist who completes and submits 40 hours of volunteer service and 8 hours of advanced training by December 31 to receive the current year’s pin or milestone award.  Pin designs are retired at the end of each year. The 2021 re-certification pin is the Sideoats Grama, the state grass of Texas.   
Listed below are the names and class numbers for those volunteers who have achieved these goals. Congratulations to all pin recipients!
 
Initial Certification Dragonfly  
Brenda Burmeister 45
   
2021 Re-Certification - Sideoats Grama
Betty Andersen 39
James Baker 41
Theresa Butler 38
Stan Drezek 27
Oliver Gerken 45
Josie Gonzales 13
James Griffin 31
Peter Hernandez 40
Raymond Kinsel 40
Fred Loxsom 1
Theresa Needels 44
George Ozuna 35
Lora Reynolds 14
Norma Rocha 42
Jeanine Sebaugh 42
Cyndie Segovia 42
Cesar Silva 45
Priscilla Williams 34
   
250 Hours Dragonfly  
Jeanine Seabaugh 42
   
500 Hours Dragonfly  
Janet Ferrill 35
Edward Noack 35
   
2500 Hours Dragonfly  
Stan Drezek 27
   

Articles/News/Updates - April 2021 

Results of our Spring 2021 Photo Contest!
We had a great response to our contest! Vanessa Velazquez, a professional photographer and Texas Master Naturalist (Class 45) chose the following winners, including a tie for third! All winners will be featured on our Facebook and Instagram pages, and will receive prizes from the AAMN treasure trove. Congrats to all!
 

FIRST PLACE: Macro Misty Morning, by Pat McGuire

SECOND PLACE: Morning Stroll at Guadalupe River State Park, by Patti Lozano


TIED FOR THIRDPirrhuloxia (Desert Cardinal) at Kerrville Schreiner Park, by Jim Baker


TIED FOR THIRD: Carolina Wren, by Louise Haney

All Things Birds: "Migratory Birds and Texas" (part 2 of 3)
By Patsy Inglet, AAMN Class 8, Bexar Audubon Society
Black-chinned Hummingbird
Nearctic-Neotropical Migrants
     The species that comprise this group basically breed in temperate latitudes (the U.S. and Canada), but leave for the winter for tropical latitudes farther south (Central and South America and Caribbean Islands). Their migratory habits are part of their lives and heritage. Of the 338 species that are listed as Nearctic-Neotropical migrants in North America (North of Mexico), 98.5% of them have been recorded in Texas. That means that more than half of the birds documented in Texas are Nearctic-Neotropical migratory birds.
     Texas is important to these migrants and these migrants are important to Texas. This series will focus on three species that stay to nest in Texas. Last month we covered the Golden-cheek warbler. This month, the Black-chinned Hummingbird.
     Although Black-chinned Hummingbirds (Archilochus alexandri) are widely distributed across the western US, this species is the predominant hummer in Central Texas. Small and green-backed, the male sports a thin strip of iridescent purple bordering the eponymous black chin—which it flashes at the observer when the light hits it just right. The low-pitched humming
sound is produced by the wings.
     The Black-chinned Hummingbird’s tongue has two grooves; nectar moves through these by capillary action, and then the bird retracts the tongue and squeezes the nectar into the mouth. It extends the tongue through the nearly closed bill at a rate of about 13–17 licks per second and consumes an average of 0.61 milliliters (about a fifth of a fluid ounce) in a single meal. The female builds a walnut-sized nest out of plant down and spider silk for her coffee bean-size eggs, and the stretchy nest expands as the babies grow.

 
 Texas Purple Sage: The 2008 TMN Service Pin
by Ian Townsend, AAMN Class #45
 
“Whereas, like the bluebonnet and the pecan tree, Texas Purple Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) is indigenous to the Lone Star State and a treasured part of the Texas landscape; also known as Cenizo, Texas Silverleaf,  Barometer Bush (so called because after a good rain, almost like magic, it explodes with hundreds of small purple flowers), and Texas Ranger, the plant grows naturally on the Edwards Plateau and the South[west] Texas Plains…”
     So begins the Texas State Legislature’s official 2005 designation declaring the Texas Purple Sage as our Official Native Shrub. Three years later, in 2008, this beautiful plant was chosen as the Texas Master Naturalist annual service pin.
     As a native, evergreen, medium-sized shrub, Texas Purple Sage provides forage for cattle and a nesting place for songbirds, including our State bird, the mockingbird. It also provides essential stabilization to loose desert soils as it grows along hill slopes. It is often a common sight along highways and in municipal landscapes as a hedge or windbreak. Commonly growing to about five feet tall, it can mature to eight feet in height and spread just as far horizontally. While the grayish-green woolly leaves are not terribly spectacular, this sage produces copious amounts of beautiful lavender flowers.
     Texas Purple Sage is truly a native landscaper's plant of choice. For gardeners, these tough as nails plants are full-sun, drought tolerant, deer and pest resistant with few disease issues. They are easy to care for and do not need fertilizing. It also is considered to be one of the best plants at attracting butterflies. Although watering in dry summer months will make it grow faster, overwatering or poor drainage will quickly kill it. This shrub is a perfect choice for xeriscape gardens. In a land that waits for the rain, we are rewarded afterwards with the surprising, magnificent blooms of the Texas Purple Sage!
 
 

Volunteer Opportunities 

Headwaters at Incarnate Word
Volunteer Opportunities for May 2021
Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays
Morning sessions at 8:30AM -11:30 AM

POC Howard Homan - howard.homan@gmail.com
     What We Do: Invasive plants removal, trail maintenance, garden installation and maintenance, and prairie restoration. Join us to help improve/restore a 75-acre habitat corridor between Hwy 281 and Broadway Street in the heart of San Antonio. Our mission is Earth care.
     How to Sign Up: We work morning sessions at various locations; parking instructions change with the venue. To sign up or obtain more information contact
howard.homan@gmail.com
     Dates are scheduled for April and May. We have sessions on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Contact us for specifics about our morning volunteer sessions, 8:30-11:30 AM.
 
Bioblitz (of Birds and Prairie Plants) (Field Research – FR)
Hosted by Kirchoff Prairie
Saturdays May 8th and May 15th
Volunteer Teams are Needed!
     On May 8 and 15, the Kirchoff Prairie is hosting a Bioblitz in partnership with the San Antonio Chapter of NPAT, Bexar Audubon Society, Alamo Area Master Naturalists, San Antonio NPSOT, and Wilson County Wildlife Management Association. The plan is to form volunteer teams to document wildlife species.
     Will need AAMN members for the walk who know iNaturalist. Contact Peter Hernandez for additional information at
 hernandez@swbell.net.
 
BioBlitz survey for birds with Bexar Audubon Society (Field Research – FR iNaturalist Observations)
We will need 4 teams of 4-6 Volunteers (16-24 Total) for 200 acres
Saturday May 8, 2021
Please RSVP to Don Kirchoff,
donkirchoff@earthlink.net, text 713-562-7681, or Patsy Inglet at bexaraudubonsociety@bexaraudubon.org
Location: Kirchoff Family Farm at 1444 C.R. 210, Floresville, TX 78114
     Volunteer teams will document the birds of Kirchoff Prairie between 8 and 10 a.m. and are invited to bird other parts of the property afterwards. Bexar Audubon Society will provide team leaders. Four to five volunteers are needed for each team. Sightings will be recorded to eBird.
 

BioBlitz survey of Prairie Plants, Insects and Mammals (Field Research – FR iNaturalist Observations)
We will need 4 teams of 4-6 Volunteers (16-24 Total) for 200 acres
Saturday May 15, 2021

Please RSVP to Don Kirchoff - donkirchoff@earthlink.net or text 713-562-7681 or Peter Joseph Hernandez (AAMN) at hernandez@swbell.net
Location: Kirchoff Family Farm at 1444 C.R. 210, Floresville, TX 78114
     Volunteer teams will document the insects, mammals, and plants of the Kirchoff Prairie. Team leaders will provide some training before going into the field. Sightings will be recorded to iNaturalist. During this BioBlitz there will be guidance from several wildlife organizations. Each team will be led by an expert.

 
Mitchell Lake Audubon Center Volunteer Opportunities
Community Outreach (PO – Public Outreach)
Saturday May 15, 2021
9:00 am – 2:00 pm
Location:  Japanese Tea Garden parking lot
Volunteers needed:  2 for Outreach Booth

POC for further details is Ms. Sara Beesley at Sara.Beesley@audubon.org
     Outside for All is a celebration of our community's wide variety of outdoor recreation and green space opportunities. The event also provides an opportunity to acknowledge successes and explore additional opportunities, while improving San Antonio’s health and well-being through intentional inclusion, thoughtful discussion, and educational information. Must be able to physically set up pop-up tents and folding tables. Staff can meet you to drop off outreach materials, tables, and tents. Details of the event can be found here. 
 
Visitor Center Naturalists (PO – Public Outreach)
Serve in the Mitchell Lake Audubon Visitor Center
Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays
7:00am – 11:00am or 11:00am – 3:00pm
POC for further details is Ms. Sara Beesley at
Sara.Beesley@audubon.org
     Thank you to all our Visitor Center Naturalists!  We so appreciate the work you do on the weekends…it’s such a great help to the staff on duty!  We have two shifts on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, 7 am-11 am and 11 am-3 pm  

Advanced Training Opportunities

“Geology Walk at Friedrich Wilderness Park” (AT)
Saturday, May 1, 2021
10:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
Location: Friedrich Wilderness Park

Register here
     Enjoy a morning walk with Geologist Bob Hixon through the picturesque trail of Friedrich Wilderness Park to discuss the local limestone features as well as plant identification. Along the way, discover the many wonders of the park such as the karst feature along Water Trail, and other hill country habitats. Note: limited number of spaces available. Masks and temperature checks required.  For more information visit www.FOSANA.org. Suggested donation: $3 per person.
 
“Birding Basics” (AT)
Hosted by Bexar Audubon Society
Tuesday May 4, 2021
7:00pm – 8:00pm
Presented by Patsy and Tom Inglet
Online via Zoom
Zoom Meeting Number 847 4945 4435

Launch Meeting here
     Bexar Audubon Society President, Patsy Inglet and her husband, Tom Inglet, are presenting Birding Basics in preparation for the upcoming May 8th Bird BioBlitz at the Kirchoff Family Farm.
 
“Perennial Gardening” (AT)
NPSOT Chapter Meeting
Tuesday May 4, 2021
6:30pm – 8:30pm / 6:30 pm sign-in; 6:45 pm Meeting
Cibolo Nature Center, 140 City Park Rd, Boerne
Presented by Mary Irish
Presentation via Zoom
     This presentation will cover plants and design for drought tolerant borders. Mary Irish is a garden writer, horticultural consultant, lecturer and educator.  She has authored multiple books on gardening dry or arid regions. Note: You must register in advance for this meeting
here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Fighting Wildfire Fire with RX – Identifying and Overcoming Social Barriers” (AT)
May 6, 12:00 p.m.
Register
here
Cost: $35
     This webinar is part of the Stewardship Series given monthly by the Rangeland, Wildlife and Fisheries division of Texas A&M Agrilife Extension.


 “Rain Gardens” (AT)
Third Saturday Nature Talks by Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy
Saturday, May 15, 2021
9:00am-10:00am
ONLINE – on FACEBOOK LIVE

Register here.  
     Join us on Facebook Live with Shannon Brown, founder of Ecosystem Regeneration Artisans, to learn how to create a rain garden. Rain gardens mitigate the impact of our homes on our water by mimicking pre-development hydrology using rainwater harvesting systems including cisterns, rain gardens, and other low impact development (LID) features. The results are landscapes that are functional, beautiful, and attract large numbers of hummingbirds and butterflies who delight the homeowners. From hilltop to creek side, every home can contribute to providing healthy wildlife and healthy water. 
 
Insects and Why We Love Them” (AT)
Hosted by Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy
Saturday May 22, 2021
9:00am – 10:00am

ONLINE here
POC is Stan Drezek, stanwendre@gmail.com
     Take a journey into insect morphology and taxonomy led by entomologist in training Nicolas Phillips.  Go here for a full description. The purpose of this event is to help participants appreciate the beauty of our natural area and to learn about its most common insects. The event will be presented by Nicolas Phillips, an expert student of Entomology and an award-winning insect collector. Nick will teach us arthropod basics, common insects of the area, and all the ways insects and other arthropods are beneficial. You will also get to see how insects are collected, preserved and pinned as a way of studying and learning about them, as well as some of Nick's specimens.

NSPOT- Chapter Meeting and Presentation online (AT)
Meeting Time – May 25th  2021
7:00 pm
Log in at 6:45 pm (For slide quiz on Native Plants)

Meeting registration
here
Topic –  "Water Sponge-Carbon Sink: Creating a Resilient City"
Presenter : Deborah Reed  Technical Director, Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance
Summary : The soil may be one of the most important strategies for mitigating Climate Change and creating resilient urban areas. Learn how and why this can be accomplished and what programs are being initiated in the San Antonio. The presentation will be recorded live to YouTube. Check it out
here.  
 
“Black Soldier Fly – A Quick and Easy Method for Composting” (AT)
Hosted by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
Friday May 28, 2021
8:00am – 12:00pm
Online Zoom event

Zoom link
     Black soldier flies have a unique life-history and are quickly gaining global attention for their ability to convert organic waste into valuable protein and rich fertilizer. This is immensely important for shifting agricultural practices towards sustainability. Our workshop was created by leading experts from both industry and research backgrounds and will highlight rearing methods of the black soldier fly applicable to everyone from backyard hobbyists to the scale of industrialized production. We will cover key information needed to recognize wild populations of black soldier fly, how to source them for your own use, how to keep a successful breeding colony, harvesting methods, feed uses, and troubleshooting recommendations for common problems.

SAN ANTONIO RIVER AUTHORITY VIRTUAL LAB TOUR (AT)
May 29, 9:30 am - 11:00 am

     Join Greg Mateo, a Senior River Authority Water Quality Scientist, as he leads a behind-the-scenes tour of our state-of-the-art environmental science laboratory. Learn how our scientists monitor and test for various parameters of water quality and help keep our precious river safe, clean and healthy.  To sign up for the tour, contact  Minna Paul at
mpaul@sariverauthority.org

UTSA – Bee Project: Time Motion Study 2021  (FR)
     If you attended March’s AAMN monthly presentation, you heard an awesome presentation about our local bees and their importance.  Help in preservation of bees by studying and collecting field data, to determine the impacts of noise on bee population. Conclusions from the data collection may help change our understanding of bees and help in conservation of the threatened species. A UTSA student has taken videos of bees entering and leaving hives with and without noise applied. Volunteers will be trained and given video files to review. Volunteers will slow down these one-minute videos to count the bees in and bees out. This can be done online from their computer at home.  This task requires no special skills, except attention to detail for somewhat tedious tasks.  Contact Jessica Beckham Ph.D. at jessica.beckham@utsa.edu

Quote of the Month
Overall, becoming a carbon-neutral country would involve changes in our behavior, but these are modest compared with the changes that will be forced upon us if we do nothing. - Caroline Lucas

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Alamo Area Texas Master Naturalist · PO Box 380801 · San Antonio, TX 78268 · USA

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