Nature: Meteor Showers

October 20th, 2014

Night Sky

Night Sky

This is Passport to Texas

When small fragments of cosmic debris – created when a comet swings past the sun – enter the earth’s atmosphere at incredibly high rates of speed, they manifest as streaks of light in the night sky.

We generally name meteor showers for the constelations from which they seem to radiate. For example, the popular Perseid meteor shower, which peaks in mid-August, seems to come from the constellation Perseus – and thus its name. While arguably the most popular meteor event, the Perseid is only one of many that occurs year-round.

In fact, this week [October 21-22] the Orionids will peak; in a normal year you may see 20-25 meteors an hour; in a great year, as many as 50 an hour.

The Leonids, which peak November 15 & 16 come from the comet Temple-Tuttle; while the Leonids have provided stunning meteor storms as recently as 2001 expect only about 15 meteors an hour this year.

The Geminids, which peak the weekend of December 13 & 14, will offer the most impressive show of 2014. These meteors are often bright and intensely colored. What makes this event top notch is that meteors start showing up before 10 p.m. That means you don’t have to get up in the middle of the night to see them.

Find a list of other meteor events at And follow us on twitter, we’re @passporttotexas.

That’s our show for today. .. Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

TPW TV: Lizards on the Move

October 17th, 2014

Horned Lizard

Horned Lizard

This is Passport to Texas

The Muse Wildlife Management Area, 15 miles Northeast of Brownwood, received some new residents.

08—This is the site that we’ve chosen to evaluate the feasibility and the success of the translocation of wild caught Texas Horned Lizards.

Wildlife biologist, Devin Erxleben, is site manager.

05—These horned lizards were collected from roadsides on private properties, southwest of San Angelo.

Parks and Wildlife collaborates with landowners to reintroduce the lizards to areas where they once roamed, says Nathan Rains, a natural resource specialist from Cleburne.

09—We’ve had a lot of interest over the years in reintroducing lizards to properties, and we’d never really looked at the feasibility of even doing that: will they survive? Where do they go? What will happen? So, we’re trying to just see if it’s possible.

After evaluation, each animal gets a tag used for identification.

06—We then affix them with a VHF radio-transmitter to track them to get daily locations on each lizard.

The lizards remain in a predator-proof enclosure for 10 days to acclimate, before being released and tracked.

06—It’ll probably be several years before we really know what’s going to happen here. But, we’re very optimistic.

Learn more this week on the Texas Parks and Wildlife PBS TV series in a segment called Lizards on the Move. Check local listings.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Conservation: Monitoring Species for Change

October 16th, 2014

Herpetologist, Andy Gluesenkamp (with phone) and biologist Cullen Hanks monitoring species.

Herpetologist, Andy Gluesenkamp (with phone) and biologist Cullen Hanks monitoring species.

This is Passport to Texas

Texas wildlife has a stake in the climate change lottery.

06—Climate change is going to affect species that are found – and breed – in backyards here in Texas.

Cullen Hanks, with Texas Nature Tracker, says models predicting the impact of climate change on wildlife are not set in stone, and so we need baseline information on each species.

33—To be able to document change, we need to know where things are before they change. And, this highlights the need of documenting the distribution of species that we have today in Texas.

And, there aren’t enough biologists to do all of that. And so, what we do is we reach out to citizens.

That’s exactly right! Texas is a big state with a lot of species, and the community of naturalists and citizens interested in wildlife in Texas can play a huge part in documenting wildlife in Texas.

Monitor species you see in your neighborhood, and then share your observations online.

17—ebird, a citizen science platform, created by the Cornell laboratory of Ornithology is a great way to maintain your checklist of birds. In addition, iNaturalist is a really useful platform for documenting your wildlife sightings of any species — not just birds.

Texas Parks and Wildlife has various projects on iNaturalist. Just go to the Texas Nature Trackers page on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website for details. The WSFR Program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Conservation: Climate Change

October 15th, 2014

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

This is Passport to Texas

When most of us hear the term “climate change” we envision massive glaciers tumbling into the sea, and a lone polar bear floating on an errant chunk of ice.

11—Climate change is not going to just impact species found around the arctic circle. It’s also going to affect species that are found – and breed – in backyards here in Texas.

Cullen Hanks works in Wildlife Diversity at Texas parks and Wildlife, and is a board member of Travis Audubon. The National Audubon Society released a comprehensive study last month that predicts how climate change could affect the ranges of 588 North American bird species.

17—There is quite a bit of uncertainty about how things are going to play out. But there’s not a question about whether there is change. I’m not a climatologist, but considering the fact we know that change is occurring, it is important to pay attention to how this is going to impact wildlife.

Due to warmer conditions, some birds may shift their range farther north.

15—Birds have the benefit of flight, so that they are more capable of colonizing new areas. However, changes to habitat will affect all wildlife. So, for example, reptiles and amphibians will also be impacted by changes to habitat that are affected by climate.

How you can help scientists understand the impact of climate change on all species. That’s tomorrow. The WSFR Program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

TPW Magazine: Ghost Stories from South Texas

October 14th, 2014

Dancing with a Ghost, artwork by Clemente Guzman.

Dancing with a Ghost, artwork by Clemente Guzman.

This is Passport to Texas

If you grew up in South Texas, you probably heard stories from the book:

02— Stories That Must Not Die.

Stephanie Salinas grew up in Laredo reading these tales by Juan Sauvageau. They capture the soul and spirit of the region. The author’s storytelling pulls readers in and keeps them on the edge of their seats, says Salinas – such as the tale of Manuel and Maria in Dancing with a Ghost.

44—A man was driving along to go to a dance, and he found a woman on the side of the road. She wanted to go dance, so he took her with him. And, she was the best dancer, and everyone was completely in awe. At the end of the night he dropped her off in the same place; she was cold so he lent her his jacket. The next morning he drove to where he dropped her off. He saw a small house in the distance, so he drove up and asked is Maria was home. The woman who answered the door started bursting into tears. She said Maria had passed away ten years ago. He said that’s impossible; I danced with her last night. He said she was wearing a pink dress. And she said, oh, she was a great dancer and we buried her in a pink dress. And the mother took him to the grave where Maria was buried, and on top of the grave was his jacket.

Stephanie Salinas has an article about Stories That Must Not Die by Juan Sauvageau in the October issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.