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Meetings and Field Trips

You are welcome to attend monthly meetings, featuring speakers on birding and natural history topics, and including a delicious member-provided evening meal -- with desserts! Our monthly field trips are fun and educational, and focus on locations along the coast, marshes, prairies, and forests of the area.

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Saturday September 5, 2015

Sabine Woods Work Day


We are planning a Work Day subject to conditions (weather, insect population) being acceptable. The large amount of rain in early summer resulted in luxuriant growth of both ground cover and shrubs. We have been able to have the "outside" areas brush hogged, but the trails need a lot of attention. In addition, at least three trees, all hackberries I think, have come down over trails, and will need to be removed, so we will need at least one medium sized chain saw. Other particular needs this time will be riding mowers that will pass through the wider trails, but we will also need loppers to cut back the vegetation on the sides of the trails. If you have hip or chest waders and a willingness to do some relatively light pruning on trees in the large pond, we will be able to use you. Please put this date on your calendar and help us if you can. Sabine Woods is 4.1 miles west of Sabine Pass on Highway 87. We will start around 7:30 a.m. and work till about noon. Contact John Whittle (409-722-4193 or johnawhittle@aol.com) for more information.

Membership Meeting

Thursday September 17, 2015  7:00 p.m.

Garden Center, Tyrrell Park, Beaumont 

Sea Rim State Park

Speaker: Nathan Londenberg, Superintendent

Nathan writes: "I have a very unique background since my dad was a missionary overseas. I was born in the Philippines and then later I lived in West Africa for eight years. My dad was a missionary in Sierra Leone, a small West African country. Due to my experiences in Sierra Leone and in Nigeria I became interested in conservation and educating people the importance of protecting our natural resources. I saw firsthand how man was capable of destroying the ecological balance of nature when unchecked.

 "Upon graduating from Georgetown High School, I attended Sul Ross State University in Alpine where I studied Natural Resource Management with an emphasis in Wildlife. Upon graduation, I worked for the City of Big Spring as a Police Officer for 9 ½ years until I accepted a position with Texas Parks and Wildlife.

"I have been with Texas State Parks for a little over seven years now. I was the Assistant Park Superintendent at Palo Duro Canyon for seven years and during that time I was the Interim Superintendent twice for a total of 14 months. Palo Duro Canyon is one of the mega parks in the Texas State Park system. At a little over 28,000 acres it has an annual visitation of more than 300,000 people.

 "I came to Sea Rim in March and I have really enjoyed the diversity of life that is in this ecological region. I have busied myself with spreading the news about Sea Rim and trying to get people to come out and experience the park themselves. Sea Rim State Park is a very unique park.”

 We will plan on having the doors open by 6:00 p.m. and the program will start at 7:00 p.m. sharp. A light supper will be available from 6:15 p.m.

Directions to Garden Center in Tyrrell Park

From the south

Go "north" on US69/96/287 around the south side of Beaumont.

Take Texas 124 (south or west, whichever it is signed) towards Fannett (left turn under the highway).

Travel about a mile to the first light.

At the first light, turn left onto Tyrrell Park Road and go about 1/2 mile.

Turn left into Tyrrell Park through the nice new arch.

Almost immediately turn left at the conservatory into the parking lot for the Garden Center.

 From IH10

Exit at Walden Road on the west side of Beaumont

Go south of Walden Road for about 1/2 mile to the first light

At the light go straight over Highway 124 onto Tyrrell Park Road and go about 1/2 mile.

Turn left into Tyrrell Park through the nice new arch.

Almost immediately turn left at the conservatory into the parking lot for the Garden Center.

 Saturday September 19, 2015

Jefferson County Fall Migration Count

We have been doing county-wide bird counts in spring and fall since 1995, and this data set is increasingly valuable in monitoring local bird populations. Although these are "migration" counts, we call all birds, not just migrants.  Since fall migration is a much more spread out affair than spring migration, we can only hope to catch a small portion of the fall migrants. The timing is such that some of our winter residents have begun to arrive, although many other don't arrive until later.

            This is a county-wide count, and we can use your help even if you can only spend part of the day. It is especially helpful if you can count in the early morning hours, when birds are at their most active. If you know the landowner(s) of any of the larger non-public areas in the county, and can negotiate permission to access private land on September 19, this could help increase our coverage of the county.

            Contact John Whittle (409-722-4193 or johnawhittle@aol.com) to volunteer to help.

 Saturday September 26, 2015

Field Trip to Smith Point Hawk Watch

            Our leaders will be there from about 8:30 a.m. This trip will be one week later than our normal field trip schedule.

            Broad-winged Hawk migration historically has peaked around the 25th-26th-27th of September in southeast Texas, but the exact timing is dependent on weather conditions along the routes the hawks take. The last two years, there have been large flights well into October. The Hawk Watch is manned every day, and if the 26th is not convenient, you could consider going a day or two earlier or later. The Broad-winged Hawk migration is tracked quite extensively in New England and  especially over the famous mountain ridges in Pennsylvania. But there are no organized Hawk Watches that we know of between the mid-Atlantic states and the Texas watches at Smith Point and Hazel Bazemore near Corpus Christi. So it becomes somewhat of an interesting exercise to "guesstimate" the progress of the large concentrations of hawks as they work their way between the mid-Atlantic and Texas. (They usually takes about a week.) There is also another population of Broad-winged Hawks that funnels between Lakes Erie and Huron over the Detroit area, and presumably joins the other stream somewhere in Texas. There is some evidence that some of the flights go west of Hazel Bazemore, but all the Hawks certainly funnel through the east coast of Mexico at Veracruz where the coastal plain between the Gulf of Mexico and the Sierra Madre Oriental mountains is very narrow.

            To reach the Smith Point Hawk Watch site from Winnie, take Highway 124 south towards High Island. After 12 miles, turn right on FM1985 and follow it about 14 1/2 miles (four miles past the access road for Anahuac NWR) until it meets FM562. Follow FM562 (south) another 14 miles to Smith Point. At the end of FM562, there are usually signs to the Hawk Watch. Continue straight until almost reaching the bay, and turn left, bearing left again to the parking area next to the Hawk Watch Tower on the Candy Abshier Wildlife Management Area. It takes at least 90 minutes from the Golden Triangle to reach the site. This Field Trip is much more a come and go as you wish trip, and help on hawk identification is always available on the tower!

            Our leaders may lead a group into the nearby woods looking for migrants, but you may stay on the tower if you wish. Mosquitoes are not normally a problem on the tower, although they almost always are in the woods. Availability of food and fuel is limited or non-existent in Smith Point, so bring your lunch!

            The Smith Point Hawk Watch is conducted every day from August 1 through the end of October by the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory.

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