This month, I decided to continue my observations at the Roy G. Guerrero Disc Golf Course and trail. While I had hoped to do some early morning observations, I was unable this time around, so I continued to do observations at sunset as I had done in January. On my last visit, I made sure to head out a bit earlier than in previous trips to see if I could notice a difference in the amount of animal activity depending on how long before sunset I was out on the trail.
Now that we’re getting closer to Spring, the days and the amount of sunlight are starting to increase. To keep track of when I needed to head out to the trail, I could look up when the sunset would occur. This was the time of sunset last night.
I headed out to the trail around 5:15ish to make sure I could make some headway down the path and to ensure I would have enough daylight to see how the amount of wildlife activity would change as sunset grew closer. Beforehand, I took a measure of the temperature and humidity as I done for my last blog post.
As you can see, the temperature was mild and chilly, with hardly a cloud in the sky. It was a peaceful walk to begin my evening. With my Nikon D80 and new 50mm lens in hand, I set out looking to get some cool shots of animals and plants. Towards the beginning of my walk, I didn’t notice much animal activity. While I was a bit bummed, I did make note of all the beautiful plant life that is in bloom now that Spring is just around the corner.
While there were some delicate flowers blooming, the more vicious flora were lurking off the trails too. I managed to get my pant leg stuck on the thorns in the image below. All in the name of Science!
This time around, I made sure to venture further down the path. I came across a bike trail. It appears that the city is taking care of clearing some brush. Here is a shot taken near Krieg Field and a panoramic photo of the trail I ended up taking.
In the left portion of the panoramic, you may notice the brush piles I was pointing out. I didn’t spot much wildlife this time around. I did catch a glimpse of a small rodent in one of the brush piles, as well as 6 red cardinals, and 5 green finches. In the distance, I could hear the rapid knocking of a woodpecker but I could spot it. Another noticeable difference this month was the change in water levels in the creek that runs into the disc golf course.
The still pool of water reminded me of what a gem this park truly is. While I often see people on the paths here, I am amazed there I don’t witness more traffic here. It’s quite a shame really, as I consider this park a real hidden treasure, especially considering that is nestled just beyond the now inactive Holly Street Power Plant minutes from downtown in the heart of south east Austin. I think that if more people knew about how truly beautiful this park is, there would be more efforts made to clear up the litter I often see here such as this beer can, or the shoes flung into the branches of trees I had mentioned in my last entry.
These thoughts reminded me of a quote from p. 115 of Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac:
Yet there remains a river, in a few spots hardly changed since Paul Bunyan’s day; at early dawn, before the motor boats awaken one can still hear it singing in the wilderness. There are few section of the uncut timber, luckily state-owned. And there is a considerable remnant of wildlife . . . in the river . . . ospreys, eagles, and ravens cruising overhead.
I found this quote to be somewhat poignant considering a lot of the observations I had made thus far. Especially in regards to the murmurs of human activity. Depending on where you are in the park, the road noise (cars passing, horns honking, etc.) seems to lessen. On the outer edges, especially closer to Krieg Field, it becomes more apparent. Despite this, the park still remains tranquil and a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding intersections.
As the sun sank into the horizon and I had continued down the trail a ways, I decided to turn back and head home. Until like lost month, it felt as though the temperature didn’t drop as quickly as the sunset, making the walk home a bit more bearable. I took one last measure of the temperature. Just as I looked up from my phone to do so, I was lucky enough to spot this mocking bird perched on the fence at the trail head, facing the setting sun.
Here’s a rough estimate of my hike from the trail head to the point that I ended up turning back. The timing on the map didn’t match the time that I was actually out there due the many stops I made along my hike to take photographs and observations.
And so ends another month at Roy G. Guerrero Disc Golf Course. I can’t wait to see what Spring brings to this park.
Maria D. Minor
ENSP 2324.02, Spring 2014
Dr. Michael Wasserman