Saturday, February 6, 2016

Ten things I learned at the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center

I visited the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center, a wonderful non profit on Lake Lavon in Lucas Texas. I was able to attend the introduction to their raptors, a walking tour with master naturalists and got  to enjoy the beautiful remnants of the blackland prairie which they are restoring.

I've learned many things today and I consider myself an avid nature lover. There's always so much more to learn and I urge you to get out there and explore. 

1.     I learned the term, Crepuscular, animals that feed at dawn and dusk, as opposed to diurnal and nocturnal-night and day-this I knew. After looking up the word crepuscular, I learned two new words-matutinal-active only before dusk and vespertine active only after sunset.
2.     I didn’t realize that owls have a ear at the top of one side of their head and the bottom of the other.
3.     Screech owls are different colors- a brown phase and a red phase-I knew this, I didn’t know the red phase is more likely in the eastern forest where red barked trees are more prevalent.
4.     The trees that we have in a lot of our area were never there before, because of necessary fires that clear the trees. The native grasses have deep roots and the only trees that survived the fires were the ones closer to creeks and water. The Blackland Prairie is very much different than it once looked-I realized that but didn't know the why.
5.     I learned that owls have no peripheral views-they turn their head up to 240° to see their surroundings.
6.     There are some kids that know a lot more than you would expect. I was impressed with several young kids that had their hands up for every question and were very articulate with their answers.
7.     I learned that I was late putting out the screech owl house and that now they have already in the process. Maybe next year I will get an owl house earlier.
8.     I learned the difference between blue stem grasses, Indian grass and switchgrass.
9.     A malar stripe is a dark streak beneath a falcon’s eye. Much like a football player blocks glare from their eyes, the falcons markings might keep the glare from blinding their eyes in flight.
10. Rousing is when the raptor fluffs up its feathers-they do it when they are comfortable, cold, clean up their feathers, etc. I never knew what it was called.

It’s a very interesting place with great people passionate about wildlife. I would highly recommend it, volunteer or donate to this wonderful non profit. Bring your kids, they are able to see the birds up close, you learn a lot about them and you get to walk the property and learn about the Blackland Prairie and their efforts to restore it.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

New Month, New Goals

January was a strange month, I had too many aspirations and not enough time. In my defense, I was probably suffering from a bit of shock after the December 26 tornado that hit a bit too close to home.

My goal is to think of a year as 365 days of action but how do you go about doing this without never giving yourself a break now and than. Instead of having a month of feeling like I had accomplished so much, I had a month of failing to launch.

So many thoughts and ideas, so many tasks and yet I felt a bit frozen. In the end, I did start journaling, something not completely habit yet but I'm working on it.

I went on a trip just as January was slipping away, I didn't spend too much money, got to do a little bit of gambling at the Apache Casino which is something I haven't done in a while and got to explore a place that I've been planning to see for years.

I have posted previously about Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge and it is not only the beauty and wildlife so close to home but the fact that I did it alone. I can't remember another time that I had so much clarity and felt so recharged after a trip.

I am planning on doing one of these a month and add that to the paddling which I will definitely get more active in with the coming spring, I will be busy in the upcoming months.

This weekend I am planning on visiting the Blackland Raptor Center in Lucas, near Lake Lavon. I'm looking forward to photographing the landscape and the birds, meeting some new people and learning about raptors.

In September I'm planning a trip to Rockport for the hummingbird festival, another idea I have been planning for a long time. The trick is ordering the plane tickets, putting it on the calendar, I am going to make this year successful in expanding my writing, photographing and painting base-I am excited about making 2016, a year of action, I hope you'll join me on the journey collecting experiences, food and places. Maybe I'll have my own travel show some day-it could happen!!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Out West: In Search of Where the Road Leads

On the far west side of the refuge, after you pass the prairie dog town and several small lakes, there is a parched black bit of earth that stretches into the  horizon.

I couldn't keep on route 49 as there was a damaged part of the road so I had to stop. I found this tree, the only one left in the area and to me it looked so unlike anything I've seen around Texas and Oklahoma.

I loved the barren landscape with the road that got lost in the distance, it reminded me a bit of some areas I've seen in Colorado.

It was one of the last places that I visited and the silence and solitude of the place just made me want to go further, explore down that road just to see where it goes.

You are surrounded by bluffs in each direction, there are sparrow hawks punched on fences and meadowlarks singing among the prairie dogs. It was truly a beautiful place that was hard to leave and I know I will return as soon as I can.

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