Killing Two Birds with One Stone: learning for all my jobs

I’m still at the annual Master Naturalist conference, and enjoyed getting recognized for achieving 250 volunteer hours so far. That does pale in comparison to the dude who achieved 10,000 hours. But I’m proud I got so much done in just two years.

I did this. So did a lot of other people!

I’m also proud of myself for signing up for a few of the more administrative sessions today. I did one on doing social media for your group and another on leading effective meetings. The networking in both was great, and much of what I learned will help with my other jobs, since they also involve social media and leading meetings.

This book was my door prize. It’s much smaller than it appears to be. There is loads of info in it, though.

The tidbits on dealing with folks who disrupt meetings and in how to actually get things done in meetings were invaluable.

Naturally I got books. I’m me. One is on things that are invading Texas and the other is on things that are in danger of disappearing.

But wait, there’s more

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From Exploring the Woods to Peering into a Microscope

Happy day. I am enjoying my second Texas Master Naturalist conference very much. It’s so nice to just enjoy learning with no pressure at all.

The prairie area

This morning I went on a field trip to the Spring Creek Forest Preserve. Wow, the people presenting me so much about the area. My head is full of little tidbits about prairies, forests, and riparian areas.

I also saw so many beautiful seed pods and fall plants. Lots of photos were taken by everyone.

Dew and webs.
iNaturalist says this is liatris.
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Walking around Lake Travis

This morning I took a walk while waiting for the rest of my team to arrive. This is an interesting area, because it was all laid out to be neighborhoods, then no one showed up to build houses, so the land has stayed pretty much untouched. Now, people are finally starting to move in, as the Austin suburbs move further and further out. Still, where we are staying has a lot of empty property.

Typical terrain in this area. Lots of juniper, little oak trees, and some mesquite.

This means that you can get a good idea of what the area around Lake Travis looked like, at least since the advent of all the cedar (ashe juniper) trees.

The lake is low. But it’s been MUCH lower.

I’ve been here in the spring, and know the wildflowers are spectacular. It was easy to see from all the dried seeds heads I saw.

Mexican hats and seed heads. Camera stubbornly focused on the back one.
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Flowers at Lake Austin

Among many things I did today, I took an impromptu trip to Laguna Gloria on Lake Austin. I’ll share some of the sculptures later, but I thought tonight I would share some of the plants. Enjoy the photo essay.

Panicled tick trefoil

I uploaded 40 or so images to iNaturalist. That was fun! Most were trees and such.

Pink Mexican ruellia

Some identification may be wrong. I’ll fix them if I find out.

Prairie acacia
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Invasive or Inviting: The Wild Morning Glory

We have so many wild morning glories, or tie vines, around the ranch. I’m sharing this article by a friend, because it has a fascinating photo of a flower with damage from the wings of a hummingbird. That is just so cool!
Suna

Nature Along the El Camino Real

By Larry Kocian. Adopted from a Facebook post on Milam County Veggie and Plant Exchange, September 22, 2019.

Free from nature, these vines (also known as tie vine —Impomoea cordatotriloba) make an appearance in late spring, early summer. In mid- to late summer and into autumn, they are showy with their purple/lavender colors.

Tie vine is just as pretty as hybrid morning glories, just with smaller blossoms.

Some people say invasive. I say not, because they are easily controlled by going into the garden and removing/sculpting them. I let mine climb, and they do climb into the mimosa trees. I do control some when they wrap in the wrong place or too much on a particular plant/tree.

My point is that most natural occurring plants that are labeled invasive are not at all. I always encourage everyone who reads this to go outside and get to know…

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Just Having a Sit-Along

Today has been non-stop meetings, work, and networking, but it’s been fun. After working at my actual job all morning, we had another wildflower brochure meeting at the Hermit Haus.

I’m almost done with the brochure, thanks to lots of proofreading help. You can never see all your own typos. And I don’t spell in Latin well!

I took more Master Naturalist friends around the office, then some of us repaired to the Dutchtowne Deli for lunch. We had been talking about how we miss just hanging around and talking about things with each other, when John said that what we needed was to have a regular “sit-along,” (though that may not be the actual word he used, but I like it anyway).

Practicing our sitting and chatting after lunch.
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Book Report: Darwin Comes to Town

This month’s book club book is so sad I had to take a long break from it, and discovering this book made that WAY easier. I think I just spotted Darwin Comes to Town: How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution, by Menno Schilthuizen in the new nature books section on Amazon. I loved the cover and was really intrigued by the subject matter: how life evolves in the world’s urban enclaves.

Schilthuizen, a naturalist in the Netherlands and author of many articles in popular science publications, writes really clearly without “dumbing down” the science behind what he talks about. I think his reminder that evolution is not just something that goes on in the forests, oceans, and hidden jungles; it’s going on right under our noses.

I love the cover art.
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