Thursday, April 23, 2009

Texas Parks and Wildlife Recommendations

So much news.

The great egrets have hatched! The chicks look about a week old. I have been so busy working in my office that I missed visiting them last week.

In mid-March, the ibises (about 25), anhingas (5), and an undetermined number of night herons and snowy egrets arrived. This year the birds are nesting nearer to the memorial garden and are huddling together, whereas in previous years they spread out their nests. Only a few cattle egrets have come, even though in recent years, they were the majority species.

Texas Parks and Wildlife made its formal recommendations to the university on 6 April, and the university immediately agreed to abide by all of them.

WFAA was on the case.
The recommendations included:

  1. Putting a temporary screen around the pond;
  2. Planting a specific set of shrubs in the denuded areas;
  3. Refurbishing the signs around the rookery;
  4. Consulting with TP&W before any further "trimming" operations;
  5. Removing the feral cats who visit the rookery.
Our part of the job, i.e. the new designs for the signs, is coming along beautifully and is nearly finished. The new signs will feature gorgeous images of the birds and brief descriptions of their range, habits, etc. We are hoping that they will encourage the university, with its many resources, to outdo us.

So far, a screen has appeared around the pond, but it is a pathetically low and transparent one. No shrub has yet appeared.

We, Audubon, and WFAA are all watching and expecting a better job. The Audubon thread on this episode is very detailed, still very much alive, and regularly updated.

WFAA's Janet St. James, who has done a superb job so far, enthusiastically looks forward to updating her news stories.

The birds are doing their part, right on schedule. If you watch the great egrets carefully, you will see some individuals leaving the nests and others returning with small twigs. These twigs are actually ceremonial. The birds are no longer repairing the nests. They just consider it good form to offer a small gift to one's mate when relieving them from a round of parenting. Such grace! Do take some time from lunch to say hello and welcome.