Archive for December, 2018

Catch (and Eat) the Rainbow (Trout)

Friday, December 14th, 2018
Catching Rainbows

A happy angler shows off a rainbow trout caught in a Dallas-area community fishing lake stocked annually by TPWD.

This is Passport to Texas

If you’re an angler who likes to eat what you catch, then now’s the time to reel in a rainbow trout.

We stock them at a catchable and eatable size. They are good fighting fish; they’re relatively easy to catch. We usually stock them in smaller bodies of water, so they’re a good fishing, catching opportunity and good eating opportunity as well.

Carl Kittel is a program director for Inland Fisheries, and oversees winter trout stocking in Texas, which began this month.

We’ve been stocking [rainbow] trout around Texas for almost 40 years. One interesting note about trout is that we often say there are no established populations of trout in Texas, but actually, way out west in the Davis Mountains there’s a small, tiny stream at high enough elevation that there is a reproducing population of rainbow trout.

That’s why we stock them in winter; most of Texas is too hot for the. Inland fisheries will distribute 250-thousand rainbows in 150 locations.

And we have a special program; we actually stock somewhat larger trout in urban areas in our Neighborhood Fishin’ Program. And that’s something that you can specifically look for on our web page.

With the winter holidays here, it’s is a great time go fishing with the kids. Find the stocking schedule on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Sport fish restoration program supports our series and funds rainbow trout stocking in Texas.

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

A Fishing Line at the End of the Rainbow

Thursday, December 13th, 2018

Stocking Rainbow trout. Photo by Larry Hodge.

This is Passport to Texas

It’s the holiday season, and chances are you have a few days off with the family. You can stay indoors and eat a bunch of holiday baked goods, or you can get to a lake or pond and reel in a rainbow. A rainbow trout, that is.

We do winter stockings when the water temperatures permit it, to provide an opportunity for anglers to catch trout in Texas. It’s a species of fish that anglers wouldn’t catch otherwise, so we stock them, and we intend them all to be caught out during the season.

Carl Kittel is a program director for Inland Fisheries. He says the agency will stock about 150 sites around the state, and will distribute approximately 250-thousand catchable rainbow trout. Perhaps even up to 300-thousand.

The fish will be divided among the various locations, including urban neighborhood fishin’ holes.

We publish a schedule on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department webpage. Look for the winter trout stocking link.

Carl Kittel says we stock rainbows in winter because these fish cannot survive our hot summers. So, when you reel one in this winter, take it home and eat it.

The Sport fish restoration program supports our series and helps to fund rainbow trout stocking in Texas.

We record our series at The Block House in Austin, Texas and Joel Block engineers our program.

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

Counting Birds for Fun and Science

Wednesday, December 12th, 2018

Helpful tools when on the lookout for birds.

This is Passport to Texas

Counting birds at dawn during the Christmas Bird Count guarantees you’ll see lots of them—which can lead to confusion.

Especially if you get into a big flock of robins or grackles; you just have to start estimating numbers. But, it’s really fun when you start getting big numbers of species. You know, you’ve only been out for an hour and you already have 30 species of birds; that’s really fun.

Cliff Shackelford is a non-game ornithologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife. This year’s count is December 14 through January 5.

There are over a hundred Christmas Bird Counts in Texas; so, chances are there’s one in existence in your area.

Counts take place in 15-mile diameter circles. Find a count circle at audubon.org.

Search for Christmas Bird Counts in Texas, and figure out which one is nearest you. Also, you’ll see who the compiler is, and you can get phone number or email and start coordinating with that person.

Compilers act as “captains” of their circles, and relay collected data to Audubon, which organizes the event. Birders of all skill levels are welcome.

And what they’ll do [if you’re a novice] is stick you with some seasoned vets, and that’s really good because you learn a lot when you’re out in the field with someone whose been doing this awhile. So you go out with this team of observers and you basically beat the bushes and try to see as much as you can see. It’s a lot of fun.

The data helps researchers better understand trends as they relate to our feathered friends. The WR restoration program supports our series.

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

Going in Circles is for the Birds

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

Participating in the Christmas Bird Count.

This is Passport to Texas

The name “Christmas Bird Count” is a bit of a misnomer.

It doesn’t happen on Christmas Day. It happens in a period around Christmas.

That period is December 14th through January 5th.

You just have to pick a day in that three week period to do the count.

Cliff Shackelford is a non-game ornithologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife. Counting occurs in 15-mile radius circles; people participate in groups or teams, directed by a compiler.

And those people [compilers] decide on a day, and they divvy up the pie of where these teams can go look for birds in this fixed radius circle, and you count birds within that circle.

Volunteers count species during a 24 hour timeframe – midnight to midnight on the chosen day.

You don’t have to. But, a lot of people want to know about owls [for example]; so, they get up early. Three A.M., maybe, and go listen for owls. And that’s pretty valuable. But, most people do just the daylight hours.

Cliff recommends getting out at dawn.

That’s when you get the best bird diversity at dawn. Everybody’s waking up: singing, calling and foraging and activity is the greatest right at dawn. Because, birds have slept all night and they’re hungry for something to eat.

Find a count circle near you at audubon.org.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our show.

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

Making Birds Count

Monday, December 10th, 2018
Christmas Bird Count participants. Photo: Camilla Cerea/Audubon

Christmas Bird Count participants. Photo: Camilla Cerea/Audubon

This is Passport to Texas

In the 1800s, an annual competition called The Side Hunt pitted teams of hunters against one another. They wanted to see who could bag the most feathered and furry things. Once people woke up and smelled the carnage, in 1900, the Side Hunt evolved into The Christmas Bird Census–and finally the Christmas Bird Count. The only thing people kill in the count is a little time, and maybe a thermos of coffee. The event’s in its 118th year.

Which makes it the longest running citizen science project in the world. Which is pretty impressive, and it started right here in the US.

Texas Parks and Wildlife ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford. Birders count from inside a 15-mile diameter circle.

You go out into a fixed area and count birds. And the neat thing is, if you stick with that area like you should, and you do it for 10, 20, 30, 40 years–you start seeing trends.

Trend spotting is the true value of the bird count.

Those counts that are very old, that have forty plus years of data, we can start seeing things. And we are. We’re seeing things like the American Tree Sparrow is not coming down to Texas much anymore. I don’t think they’re rare, they just don’t need to come all the way south for “maybe”climate change. Maybe it’s not so cold up north; they don’t need to come down. That’s the beauty of the Christmas Bird Count — you can look at it continentally– and see where the changes are in the bird life.

Tomorrow … how the Christmas Bird Count works.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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