EDIT: oops. I forgot to link to Rambling Woods a really fine blog that hosts Nature Notes each Tuesday.
I found this little pop quiz in Communicating Nature: How We Create and Understand Environmental Messages by Julia B. Corbett.
I was happy to see I did not know all the answers. More to learn! And even happier that I knew some things today that I didn’t know ten years ago. Progress.
Try it for yourself if you like. Do any of these questions leave you wondering about the place where you live?
1. As far as I know, my drinking water comes from the surface of the Colorado River. There are a couple of treatment plants that pump the water through pipes. I do not know which one I am connected to. Wastewater gets pumped to Hornsby Bend where solids are removed and chlorine is added. The water is then returned to the Colorado River. =/
2. As I type this the moon is waxing. My husband is pagan so he keeps me informed. =)
3. This was an easy one. Since a drought was officially declared I knew the number had to be under the typical average which is around 32 inches annually. I had to look up the actual amount though which turned out to be around 26.5 inches.
4. Edible plants! Easy. Central Texas is a wild food paradise: wild grapes, turk’s cap fruit, wild carrot, pecans, Mexican plum, wild persimmon etc etc. Native grasses? Little bluestem and my favourite, the Eastern Gamagrass.
5. This might be a trick question as there isn’t a simple answer. The winds typically come from the south. Sometimes in the winter they come in from the SW. But if there is a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico we can get some wind and rain from that direction (east-ish). The really cold winter winds come from the north.
6. Not exactly sure about this one. I do know that there are several dumps in the area. All but one of them have really serious emissions problems.
7. The growing season might be considered year round though very little actually grows in January.
8. I hate to admit I don’t have any first hand experience on this one because I haven’t even seen a deer here. o.O I would actually say the main herbivore here (besides leaf cutter ants and/or snails) is probably the squirrel. I would guess that the rut happens in October. I do know that the babies are born in the early spring (around February) thanks to various blogs like TexasDeb’s Austin Agrodolce
9. Resident birds. Easy. Cardinal, Grackle, Mockingbird, Carolina Wren, Red-winged blackbird, a billion more. Migrating birds? Way less easy. Birds don’t fly south for the winter here; this is where they kind of end up so it is tricky to know if someone is a year round resident or temporary. Robins, Goldfinches and Rough-legged hawks all head north for their summer vacations. Ruby Throated Hummingbirds and Nighthawks come here for the summer. This is an area I would like to learn more about.
10. Here goes nothing. Please correct me if I am wrong. The Edward’s Plateau might be the area’s most important geological feature. The old fault lines along its edge are called the Balcones Escarpment. A good place to see this formation in Austin is to go to the top of Mount Bonnell. Don’t go when school is in session as it is a popular 4th grade field trip destination. West of this area is the hill country where the limestone has helped create the Edwards Aquifer. I suspect most of that water is probably underground but there are places where it reaches the surface like at Barton Springs. East of the Balcones Escarpment is a prairie which once upon a time was a sea bed then later become a home for migrating bison. Now it seems to be mostly urban sprawl with some token ranches here and there. Another important feature of the local geology is Lady Bird Lake created from water diverted from the Colorado River.
11. Many years ago when I liked to travel a lot I got into the habit of knowing where North was. Easy.
12. On our property the first native flower has always been the Anemone berlandieri. Soon after we will see evening primrose, spiderwort, hollies, the Texas mountain laurel and redbud flowers.