Archive for December, 2010

Birding: Winter Hummers

Friday, December 24th, 2010

This is Passport to Texas

Fall hummingbird migration peaked in mid September, and spring migration won’t peak until February. Until then what’s a hummingbird lover to do—just wait?

08—Not at all. A lot of people will take their feeders down in October, and that’s really one of the worst things you can do, because we get hummingbirds here in Texas all year round.

Mark Klym coordinates the Hummingbird Roundup, an ongoing citizen survey of backyard hummers. Some birds, he says, arrive in late summer and stay until spring.

09—They’re not going to go down into Mexico. And so, we can keep them fed and keep them sheltered, and if we have the right habitat, we can enjoy hummingbirds 365 days a year.

You may see ruby-throats and black-chins in winter, but the Rufus and Buff bellies are more numerous in the colder months, and if your landscape has plenty of trees and shrubs, you may see some this winter. Just remember to keep your feeders refreshed and thawed.

20—During the winter, it’s a good idea to increase the number of feeders that you have. Continue with that typical, one part sugar, four parts water solution—no red food coloring, please; that’s not good for the birds. If we get a snow, which has happened a few times—yeah, you have to go out there and brush that snow off and get those feeders opened up. The birds need them; as soon as they wake up that’s where they’re going to head—for those feeders.

There’s more hummingbird information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

That’s our show… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Habitat: What Quail Require

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

This is Passport to Texas

[SFX—bobwhite quail]

That’s a sound that stirs quail hunters’ souls. The season for the small bird with the lonesome song runs through February 27th.

09—This past winter we finally got some moisture. We got a spring, which sometimes we miss in Texas. We also had cool summer temperatures, When I say cool I mean less than a hundred degrees.

Robert Perez, upland game bird program leader at Texas Parks and Wildlife, says weather conditions affect success during quail season. Better weather means more food and better habitat.

19—We do a survey every year the first two weeks in August, which is called a roadside count. And out biologists across the state run surveys counting the number of birds they encounter. And these give us an average that we indicate whether or not you’re above or below that long term mean. And pretty much this year all areas are below their low term mean, but they’ve made a good comeback from where numbers were last year which was very low.

With that in mind, Perez is cautiously optimistic hunters will have a good season.

16—Be looking for places where you find quail food, the seeds that are available, whether it be dove weed, or sunflower, or ragweed. And go places where you’ve seen quail in the past. Consider the moisture. If you’re using bird dogs, it does help them to have scenting conditions. Those scenting conditions are important for them to be able to find those birds.

Find hunting information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

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

Hunting: Quail Forecast

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

This is Passport to Texas

If you’re a waterfowler, wetlands and riparian areas are your hunting destinations…if you’re a bird hunter who prefers dry land, you’ll want to stick to the uplands.

04—The uplands are the grassland or savannah habitats that aren’t prone to being flooded.

Robert Perez is the upland game bird program leader at parks and wildlife.

06—The uplands are where you typically find some game birds like grouse, pheasant, quail—those sorts of species.

Among the birds just mentioned, quail attract the most attention in our state. Quail season started October 30th and runs through February 27th.

06—Texas is one of the few states where people flock to come and hunt quail, because we’ve got some of the last strongholds in our state.

Strongholds are areas where sufficient habitat with an abundance of bunch grasses exists.

20—So, the bunch grasses of south Texas and the rolling plains—typically blue stems, or Indian, or switch grass—what they call the big grasses of the great plains, and southern great plains from many years ago. Much of the habitat’s been replaced over time; we’ve lost a lot of the prairies and a lot of the savannahs, but where it still exists, and land use is compatible with that habitat type, we still have good numbers of quail.

Perez is cautiously optimistic about this quail season and we’ll talk about that tomorrow.

The Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series. For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

TPW TV: Hunting Dogs

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

This is Passport to Texas

It’s December, and that puts us in the middle of various hunting seasons in Texas. If you’re a bird hunter, you won’t want to miss the TPW PBS TV series this month. Series Producer, Don Cash.

One of the stories we’re going to do in the month of December is about hunting dogs. They’re going to talk about how important a dog is to a hunter.

Once you’ve had that good dog—whether it points, or flushes, retrieves—there is no fun in hunting anymore for birds without a dog.

One of the really cool things in his story is watching a dog do something called roading.

There. The bird stopped. She stopped. So now she isn’t creeping. She isn’t roading, because the bird isn’t moving. She’s doing exactly what she needs to do. To me it’s like sitting back and watching a painting being made. I’m sitting back watching my dog out there—that’s the brushstrokes. She’s out there making a good retrieve, and it’s like art in motion. And it’s beautiful.

One of the things you’ll learn in this story is not to use the term “fetch” when you want to send your dog out. We use the dog’s name to send the dog on the birds. If you’re hunting with many of your buddies, and they all have dogs, and if you share a common command, say, fetch, all three dogs could go. And that’s not good. So, take a look at this story and watch the dogs work. They’re just absolutely beautiful.

Thanks, Don. Log onto the Texas Parks and Wildlife website for a schedule of shows and where they air.

That’s our show…with support from the Wildlife Restoration Program… providing funding for the Private Lands and Habitat Enhancement Program … For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

State Parks: Lake Mineral Wells

Monday, December 20th, 2010

This is Passport to Texas

When you visit Lake Mineral Wells SP, recreational opportunities from hiking to horseback riding await you—because as our SP Guide Bryan Frazier says: it is a complete park.

63—By complete park we mean, it has a lot of different recreational opportunities. No matter what people are interested in doing outdoors…there’s great camping, you’ve got more than 70 developed campsites, you’ve got lots of primitive campsites, you’ve got screened shelters, but you’ve also got a 650 acre lake that’s great for fishing from everything from sunfish to catfish to bass. You’ve got beautiful scenery with big limestone hills. You’ve got rappelling and rock climbing; it’s one of the few places you can do—certainly in North Texas—with legitimate rock-climbing opportunities, and it’s very, very popular for that. And it’s just one of those picturesque parks—it even has a group dining hall. So, people can go there and spend a day trip. It’s very accessible from the Fort Worth area—it’s actually right on the edge of the city of Mineral Wells. Or, you can spend several days. Camp. Hike. It’s 38-hundred acres, so it’s a nice big park. More than sixteen miles of hiking and biking trails…it really is one of those park experiences that someone can spend as much time as they wanted to and not do the same thing twice.

Thanks Bryan.

That’s our show for today…with funding provided by Chevrolet…building dependable, reliable trucks for more than 90 years.

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