Diario del proyecto Where the Wilds Things are at GRCP

07 de octubre de 2023

October herping recon

UT students Ashwin N., Jyotishko R. and Maia R. visited the preserve this early October on a couple of herping trips. Unfortunately they did not find much on the tail-end of the summer drought since there is no standing or running water on the property.
They made some suggestions to improve habitat and hiding places for snakes in particular and we are hoping to see them again in the spring for a full survey of the tract.

Let's hope this marks the beginning of a fruitful collaboration with UT students interested in all kinds of fauna and flora surveys and perhaps even more ambitious ecological studies.

Publicado el 7 de octubre de 2023 23:39 por eleonorelc eleonorelc | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

23 de septiembre de 2023

Good Water Master Naturalists visit

After a sweltering June workday, Godwin Ranch took a visitation summer break.

September 23rd:
It was with great trepidation that Godwin Ranch got ready to welcome a group of Good Water Master Naturalists. And indeed, within minutes their keen eyes had spotted a hummingbird nest, a clump of lace cactus and a ringtail skull, all things that had evaded detection prior to their coming.

Even though the grounds are on the crispy side these days, like the rest of Central Texas, the group found beauty and joy in this natural space that has been mostly preserved from the onslaught of invasives like nandina, China berry, ligustrum, etc.

We are hoping to host them again in the spring, when the wildflowers are in bloom and the animals aren't stupefied by the heat.

Publicado el 23 de septiembre de 2023 20:57 por eleonorelc eleonorelc | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

Hot hot heat and Summer Solstice Cricket Count

Belated spring report
May 6 workday:
A small but dedicated group of volunteers extracted many buckets of fill from Twisted Root Cave in order to increase its water recharge. It is no small task, but the lovely breeze coming from a crack in the floor helped keep everybody in good spirits. That's caves for you, cool in the spring/summer and warm in the winter.

June 17 workday:
Good progress was made on the cave restoration taking place at Twisted Root Cave, and our combination workday+ Summer Solstice Cricket Count was a big hit.
We had a total of 18 individual participants, with some taking part in both activities which had them spend 12 hours onsite.

Around sunset, teams of 2 to 3 volunteers equipped with red lights made their way to each of the 5 cave entrances the property now boasts. We were wondering if the crickets would be affected by all the hustle and bustle of the workday in Twisted Root, but they came out early and in droves! That cave alone had 600+ crickets of all ages - nymphs, subadults, adults- exit to forage on the surface before heading back into the depth where they bring much needed energy to our cave obligates in the form of frass (poop), eggs and other organic debris kicked in the cave during their daily migration.

Temple of Thor, Red Crevice and Nergal's Altar had decent cricket counts as well, which is encouraging. Field mice and cliff chirping frogs living in those caves joined the fray and some were seen hunting crickets. The luckiest group of volunteers even saw a cricket pounce on a struggling assassin bug and drag it into the cave for what I hope was a gory meal. Cave justice in action!

Unsurprisingly, Lakeline Mall Cave was pretty much a biological desert with only three roaches counted. Even the angry raccoon was a no-show this year.

All in all, the 2023 edition of the longest cave bio-monitoring effort in the US was a fine one. Despite the 106 degree temperature our volunteers had to endure in June, cricket numbers seem to indicate that our underground communities are in good health.

Publicado el 23 de septiembre de 2023 20:21 por eleonorelc eleonorelc | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

19 de abril de 2023

And so it begins...

Ten beautiful volunteers assembled on April 8 to work on the preserve. Our focus that day was establishing a preliminary bird survey, and working on opening some new karst features found in the vicinity of Nergal Cave, who received its name that day.
Nergal was (is?) the Mesopotamian god of the Underworld, a fearsome warrior and notable bringer of pestilence, no doubt aided in this task by legions of assassin bugs, some of which are seen fervently patrolling the grounds of this particular cave.
One of the new features appears to bell out and the limestone there is clearly more rotten and porous, two indications that it might reveal its secrets soon.
Although we did not break into anything that day, we increased the recharge of an area that most likely drains directly into Nergal.
As always, the hope is to restore pathways for rainwater to seep into the ground and ultimately collect into the aquifer, where it can serve both below and above ground communities.

Publicado el 19 de abril de 2023 19:55 por eleonorelc eleonorelc | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

06 de abril de 2023

A brief history of GRCP

GRCP is a 105 acre vegetation island in an increasingly dense urban area. Although the preserve is a mitigation property donated to the TCMA in 1992 as part of the Lakeline Mall Habitat Conservation Plan (LLMHCP), there is still much we don't know about the land.
An initial karst assessment was performed by cave specialists (biologists and geologists) in the 1990s, and two major apertures were excavated. An in-cave biosurvey found endangered Texas karst invertebrates, including the Coffin Cave Mold beetle (Batrisodes texanus) and Bone Cave harvestman (Texella reysei).

Professional biomonitoring (species count) is performed in those caves every spring and fall, and a volunteer-driven cricket exit count takes place on the summer solstice every year as well. This event is often celebrated as the longest running cave biomonotoring effort in the US.

However, as development and climate change pressures intensify, conducting a full survey of all our natural resources (trees, plants, birds, reptiles, mammals) will allow us to manage the preserve more wholistically and not just for its caves. It is not so much a change in focus as a broadening of our attention since improving habitat for native surface species can only benefit our cave species.

As new technology becomes available, implementing such a survey is far less daunting.

So let's grab our phones and start observing.

Publicado el 6 de abril de 2023 19:33 por eleonorelc eleonorelc | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario