Swamp Rabbit. Spotted Sandpiper. Scarlet Leatherflower. This is just a sample of the flora and fauna you might encounter on one of the interpretative walks offered in Blanco State Park. These walks are led by Marcy Westcott, a long-time Blanco resident and certified Master Naturalist, and give both adults and children the opportunity to enjoy nature and learn some fun facts about our environment while strolling along the river. For example, did you know that the type of tree that gave rise to the invention of aspirin is found in Blanco State Park? Come take a walk with Marcy and find out which tree it is! The walks are held every other Saturday, are short and easy, and are free with payment of the park entrance fee. Many overnight visitors to the park, as well as local folks from Blanco and the surrounding areas, have been attending Marcy’s interpretative walks. Come join the fun!
Blanco State Park is home to so many fun events, and one of the most recent ones was a bird count conducted in the park as part of the worldwide annual Great Backyard Bird Count. Scientists use data from the GBBC along with other data to develop an overview of what is happening to bird populations. Shirley Winslow, another certified Master Naturalist, led the park count, and she and her group of volunteers reported observing 28 different species of birds in the park. They counted 40 Cedar Waxwings, which are winter visitors to our area, two Red-shouldered Hawks, two Golden-fronted Woodpeckers, a Belted Kingfisher, and numerous other species of birds. In a two-hour period, the group counted a total of 160 birds! They even observed a Spotted Sandpiper, which is a frequent visitor along the upper dam. On your next visit to the park, look for it there, bobbing up and down looking for food as the water runs over the top of the dam. If you are interested in birds, consider attending one of Shirley’s talks entitled Birds at Breakfast. Bring your breakfast and binoculars on March 8 at 9 a.m. and learn about our local and migratory birds. This talk is free with payment of the park entrance fee. Sign up at park headquarters or call 830-833-4333 to reserve your space.
Also, for women who are registered to participate in the Wild Woman Weekend event, there are two additional talks and walks scheduled in Blanco State Park on April 5. “Take a Walk on the Wild Side” explores the birds, butterflies, and plants of the park. “Mother Nature’s Superstore” explores the world of edible and useful plants. Fly-fishing and kayaking clinics and Tai Chi will also be held in the park as part of Wild Woman Weekend. For registration information, go to www.wildwomanweekend.org.
The new Naturescape Activity Center is starting to take shape. We have planted eight large trees, created gravel pathways, placed boulders, dug post holes, and built a split rail fence for the Center. We could not do this without help from our community volunteers and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff. A special thanks and shout-out to Dirt Works for their soil and gravel donation, Thomas Stone for discounted stepping stones, and Ruiz Construction for the boulder donation. As Jesse Ruiz said, “I’ll do anything for children.” If you would like to volunteer to help make the Naturescape Activity Center a reality, please contact Marilynn Lageman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This monthly column is brought to you by the Friends of Blanco State Park, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving and protecting the park’s natural beauty for current enjoyment and that of future generations. It is easy to become a member of the Friends group. Just pick up a membership application at the park office, join us at one of our events, or call the park office at 830-833-4333.
Nature Walk – March 1, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Birds at Breakfast – March 8, 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Nature Walk – March 15, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Wild Woman Weekend – April 4 and 5 – numerous activities in the park
Check this column monthly for more news about upcoming events and other happenings at Blanco State Park.
Did you know…….? The Caswell Nature Trail in Blanco State Park is named for Ira and Vivian Caswell, who moved to Blanco in 1956. Among other endeavors, Ira was a writer who authored poems and essays about nature. In the 1960s, Blanco State Park was being considered for possible closure. Ira’s eloquence was instrumental in convincing the Texas Governor that the park should remain open. Vivian was a local artist who loved to sit in Blanco State Park and draw the native Texas Hill Country grasses and flowers. Her work was widely exhibited and drew attention to the beauty of the park and the Texas Hill Country.