Birding and Wildflower Society

Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Society 

The Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Society (HLBWS) has a new home! As of the September meeting (9/6/18), monthly meetings will be held at the Texas A&M Agri-Life Extension Offices in Burnet at 607 North Vandeveer St.

The mission of HLBWS is to engage in educational and outreach activities which promote enjoyment and preservation of nature, with primary emphasis on the study of birds and wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country. Monthly activities feature a morning bird walk prior to each meeting, noteworthy speakers in related scientific fields, regular field trips related to programs, and a study group which prepares for each month’s program with readings related to the upcoming program’s topic. All interested in the objectives of this organization are invited to join the group. HLBWS meets the first Thursday of each month from September thru June at 9:30 AM for social time and 10:AM for the meeting and program.  
The monthly bird walk, led by expert birders, will meet at 7:30 AM at the City of Burnet’s Haley Nelson Park located at 1624 Buchanan Dr (W. Hwy 29 across from Wells Fargo Bank). Meet at the southeast end of the parking lot. Be ready with your walking shoes, binoculars, camera’s, field guides, and birding phone apps. The public and beginners are always welcome.  For the program - From US 281 N, go 3 blocks past Hwy 29 and turn right on Johnson St. Go 3 blocks and turn left on Vandeveer.  Go up the street to the large parking lot on the right.   Enter the door by the large parking lot.
June 6th Program

The Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Society’s June 6th meeting will have a presentation by Mr. William “Bill” Lindemann with the Fredericksburg Nature Center entitled “Hill Country Wildflowers a botanical kaleidoscope”. Annually, the Texas Hill Country becomes awash of colorful wildflowers based on the botanical, geological, climatological and ecological framework in one of the most naturally diverse regions in the state. E. O. Wilson, a famous evolutionary scientist, once suggested that the Edwards Plateau, of which the Hill Country is an integral part, was likely the twenty-sixth most diverse ecological hotspot in the world. Join me as we explore the colorful blanket of wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country landscape.  Mr. Lindemann has spoken previously at HLBWS meetings and since his “retirement” has become one of the leaders in the study of the Hill Country nature experience.

Mr. Lindemann is a native Texan from Gonzales County and earned BS and MA degrees from the University of Texas in Austin. As an exploration geologist, he worked for Exxon around the world searching for oil and gas, uranium, synthetic fuels and other minerals for 32 years. Retiring to Fredericksburg in 1994, Mr. Lindemann became a self-trained naturalist to fully appreciate the wonderful natural heritage found in the Hill Country. He wrote a weekly newspaper column on birding for 19 years, twice served as president of the Native Plant Society of Texas, founded the Fredericksburg Nature Center in 2000 which included overseeing the construction of trails, outdoor classrooms, wildlife checklists, a pollinator garden and the “Wings Over The Hills Nature Festival, A Celebration of Natural Flight” which was an annual event from 2011 to 2017. He is a frequent speaker on nature subjects including birding and native plants. He joined the Hill Country Land Trust in 2003 and served as its president for four years before retiring in 2018.  

Meeting and Bird Walk Information;

The Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Society (HLBWS) meets the first Thursday of each month from September to June at the Texas A&M Agri-Life Extension Offices in Burnet at 607 North Vandeveer St.  Social time starts at 9:30 AM followed by the meeting at 10:00 AM. Please visit

Pre-meeting Bird Walk Location: the monthly bird walk, led by expert birders, will meet at 7:30 AM (new time) at the southeast end of the parking lot in the City of Burnet’s Haley Nelson Park located at 1624 Buchanan Dr. (W. Hwy 29 across from Wells Fargo Bank).  Be ready with your walking shoes, binoculars, camera’s, field guides, and birding phone apps. Visitors are always welcome.  

Previous Programs

May 2nd Program

The Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Society’s May 2nd meeting will have a presentation by Mr. Richard Heilbrun with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) entitled “The Future of Wildlife Conservation”. Natural systems in the US have faced dramatic challenges in the past. Pronghorn, deer, and turkey were once nearly extinct and today they thrive. Egrets and herons were once prized for their feathers and declined precipitously but have rebounded because of passionate people doing good work. With good science and dedicated conservation efforts, we’ve recovered these wildlife populations. But the threats still abound. This presentation by Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Wildlife Biologist Richard Heilbrun will discuss the wins, losses, and opportunities for those of us that value the beauty of the natural world. How are wildlife doing in Texas? What are some of the biggest challenges? And most importantly, a once-in-a-generation opportunity in 2019 to solve some major fish and wildlife challenges. This presentation will offer an overview of this national initiative and discuss opportunities for all Texans to get engaged.

Mr. Richard Heilbrun Bio:

Richard Heilbrun is the Conservation Outreach Program Leader for Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. He is a wildlife biologist by training, and has worked throughout the state on projects that conserve wildlife, manage wildlife habitat, and help people connect with natural resources on a deeply personal level. He has worked with Bighorn Sheep, ducks, Whooping Cranes, songbirds, raptors, quail, deer, dove, and bobcats. Richard holds a Bachelors and a Master’s degree from Texas A&M University in wildlife ecology and has worked for Texas Parks & Wildlife Department since 2002. He is proud to have worked with landowners, urban residents, volunteers, conservation organizations, and the general public to advance stewardship of Texas’s natural resources. He currently supervises the Urban Wildlife Technical Guidance Program, the Texas Nature Trackers Program, and the Texas Master Naturalist Program. All of these programs aim to connect Texans with the outdoors, improve wildlife habitat throughout the state, and manage the state’s most sensitive wildlife populations. Richard is a past-officer of the Texas Chapter of The Wildlife Society, a graduate of the Natural Leaders Program, and a Rob & Bessie Welder Wildlife Foundation Fellow. He is a Certified Wildlife Biologist®, and lives in San Antonio with his wife and daughter.

Meeting and Bird Walk Information

The Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Society (HLBWS) meets the first Thursday of each month from September to June at the Texas A&M Agri-Life Extension Offices in Burnet at 607 North Vandeveer St. Social time starts at 9:30 AM followed by the meeting at 10:00 AM. Please visit

Pre-meeting Bird Walk Location: the monthly bird walk, led by expert birders, will meet at 8:15 AM at the southeast end of the parking lot in the City of Burnet’s Haley Nelson Park located at 1624 Buchanan Dr. (W. Hwy 29 across from Wells Fargo Bank). Be ready with your walking shoes, binoculars, camera’s, field guides, and birding phone apps. Visitors are always welcome.

April 4th, 2019 Program
The Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Society’s April 4th meeting will have a presentation by Mr. Dennis Markwardt with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) entitled “TxDOT’s Wildflower Program”. TxDOT’s goals are for “safe and efficient travel” which include maintenance of over a million acres of highway right of way. Come and hear how Dennis has continued to use wildflowers as an integral role in accomplishing TxDOT’s goals along with providing immense beauty for all of us to enjoy. Since his beginning at TxDOT, Dennis has championed the wildflower program for TxDOT. He has developed wildflower seeding mixes to be used in the varied climates and soil conditions throughout the state. Dennis began a series of wildflower presentations in schools and for various civic organizations which continues to this day. As a result of Dennis’ commitment to wildflowers along Texas roadways, Texas has the most recognized wildflower show in the nation every spring, attracting tourists from around the world.  This program is approved for Advanced Training credit for Master Gardeners.

About Dennis Markwardt:

Mr. Markwardt is the Director of Vegetation Management for the Maintenance Division of TxDOT and is based out of Austin. He has over 30 years of experience in right of way vegetation management that include such duties as coordinating TxDOT’s Mowing Program, Pest Management Program, Seeding Operations, Wildflower Program, Erosion Control Program, Pollinator Program, Pit and Quarry Program, and De-icing Operations. Other duties include writing specifications for seeding, sodding, plant fertility, vegetative watering, erosion control and native vegetation restoration projects. He monitors the section activities for herbicide research and provides herbicide operator training, herbicide equipment training and revegetation training for 1,400 herbicide operators statewide. His section also produces numerous manuals for use by TxDOT employees, including Revegetation Training, Erosion Control Approved Products List (updated annually), Herbicide Operations Manual (updated annually), Laws and Regulations Manual for Pesticides (updated annually), Herbicide Record Book (updated annually), A Guide to Roadside Vegetation Establishment, Wildflower Guide and Grass Guide, among others. Mr. Markwardt graduated from Texas A&M University in 1987 with a B.S. degree in Range Science and has been married 30 years to Maria with two daughters, a son in law and two grandsons.

Meeting, Directions and Bird Walk Information above.

The Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Society (HLBWS) meets the first Thursday of each month from September to June at the Texas A&M Agri-Life Extension Offices in Burnet at 607 North Vandeveer St. Social time starts at 9:30 AM followed by the meeting and program at 10:00 AM.

March 7th, 2019  Program

March HLBWS Meeting with Rebekah Rylander and the Black-crested Titmouse The Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Society’s March 7th meeting will have a presentation by Ms. Rebekah Rylander entitled “Family First! Uncovering the secret social lives of the Black-crested Titmouse”. Why are titmice found in groups? Is there a purpose to their flocking behavior? Though the physical appearance of the Blackcrested Titmouse (BCTI) is rather drab in shades of black and gray, the social structure of this species is anything but that! Over the course of a six-year study, it has been discovered that the BCTI is a complicated species with peculiar flocking capabilities and reproductive behaviors. Through the use of color banding and focal monitoring, a rather common bird just got a lot more interesting. Ms. Rylander, a third generation Austinite, became infatuated with the field of ornitholo- gy during her undergraduate degree at the University of Texas. Since then she has been fortunate to assist with avian research in various locations across the globe including Aus- tralia, Ecuador, Hawaii, Mexico, and Canada. Rebekah is currently pursuing a PhD at Texas State University focusing on family flocking dynamics of the Black-crested Tit- mouse, a project that stemmed from her Master’s work with the same species. In her limited spare time, Rebekah enjoys running a banding station, monitoring local popula- tions of Golden-cheeked Warblers, and assisting undergraduates with independent re- search projects that target bird conservation. Do join us for this interesting program on March 7th at the Texas A&M Agri-Life Extension Offices in Burnet at 607 North Vandeveer St. Social time starts at 9:30 AM followed by the meeting at 10:00 AM.

February 7th Program

The Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Society’s February 7th meeting will have a presentation by Mr. Billy Hutson entitled “Life Cycle and Importance of Bees.” Billy ha
s been “bee keeping” since the early 70’s and will share his experiences about the world of bees. Bees are part of the “pollinator community” which has an important effect on our wildflowers along with benefits to the agricultural community. Billy is a retired engineer and has been a resident of the hill country for thirty years. About 8 years ago he founded the “Upper Highland Lakes Nature Center” (UHLNC). As the Founding Director and president, Billy has overseen the development of the UHLNC which offers numerous nature programs for people of all ages. As part of UHLNC, volunteers conduct a nature program at the Numinous Coffee Roasters coffee shop in Marble Falls on various Saturdays. The UHLNC is a 5-acre learning center leased from and located on the Reveille Peak Ranch, 105 CR 114 in Burnet. The web site is Billy is also a Texas Master Naturalist, past president in 2011 of the local Master Naturalist chapter, and past president and activities director of several local organizations. As always, the Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Society (HLBWS) meets at the Texas A&M Agri-Life Extension Offices in Burnet at 607 North Vandeveer St. Social time starts at 9:30 AM followed by the meeting at 10:00 AM. Visitors are always welcome. Join us on Feb. 7th to learn more about the world of bees, both honey bees and those important native bees.

January 3rd, 2019 Meeting

The January 3rd Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Society program will have Mr. Bob Rose, Chief Meteorologist for the Lower Colorado River Authority. Mr. Rose will present a program entitled “The Return of El Nino and It’s Role in Recent Flooding and the Effect on Our Future Weather.

As the chief meteorologist for the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), Bob is responsible for the daily forecast of weather conditions and temperature affecting LCRA’s power generation, electrical transmission, flood control and water supply operations. In addition to short term forecasts, Bob provides LCRA operation centers with long-term weather forecasts and updates on the threat for severe weather and extreme temperature. Prior to coming to LCRA, Bob worked at TV stations in Austin and Bryan-College Station.

Bob earned his B.S. in Meteorology from Texas A&M University.

Bob has served as past president of the Central Texas Chapter of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). Bob holds the seal of approval and the certified broadcast meteorologist award from the AMS. Bob is a regular contributor to the National Drought Monitor and is a member of the Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program. Bob is also the Travis and Williamson County coordinator for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS), a volunteer network of rainfall observers.

Bob writes a daily blog about Central Texas weather which appears on LCRA’s website. Bob gives numerous talks about the weather to various civic and school groups around Central Texas. Bob enjoys traveling and has been on 17 different cruises to various parts of the world.

See Bob’s Weather Blog at;

The Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Society (HLBWS) meets the first Thursday of each month from September to June at the Texas A&M Agri-Life Extension Offices in Burnet at 607 North Vandeveer St. Social time starts at 9:30 AM followed by the meeting at 10:00 AM. Please visit for more information.

The monthly bird walk, led by expert birders, will meet at 8:15 AM. The new location is the City of Burnet’s Haley Nelson Park (1624 Buchanan Dr. / W. Hwy 29) across from Wells Fargo Bank. Meet at the southeast end of the parking lot. Be ready with your binoculars, walking shoes, camera’s, field guides, and birding phone apps. The public is always welcome.

December 6th, 2018 Program

The December 6th Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Society Program will have Mr. Ed Sones, President of the Austin Area Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc. and a member of Austin Wildlife Rescue.  Mr. Sones will present a program entitled “Adventures of a Wildlife Rehabber” and will have some live raptors at the meeting.

Ed Sones is a very unusual bird watcher.  He watches most of the central Texas birds and other wildlife with an unusual view point; they are actually inside his home.  Foster parents, voracious fledglings, hissing vultures and heartbreak are part of his everyday world. Come learn more about the role that wildlife rehab plays in connecting people with nature, and enjoy seeing and learning more about some of Ed's education birds.

 Ed Sones is a Cedar Park wildlife rehabilitator specializing in raptors. He has been a rehabber for 29 years, starting down that slippery slope with 2 infant squirrels provided courtesy of his dog. Over that volunteer career, Ed has personally rehabbed over 4000 birds of well over 120 species and almost all local species of mammals. He specializes in raptors and wading birds.

You can learn more about him in this article featured in the Georgetown View.

November 1, 2018 Program

The November 1, 2018 Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Society Program will bring back a longtime favorite speaker, Dr. Chuck Sexton. Dr. Sexton is well known for his birding expertise which is documented on the “eBird” web site by checking the lists of top ten birders for our local counties.

This time however, we will be exposed to another facet of Dr. Sexton’s expertise with his presentation titled “BIOBLITZING ON VACATION IN WESTERN PANAMA”. During a three-week holiday stay in December 2017, Chuck and Mary Kay Sexton enjoyed the biological diversity in and around Boquete in the Chiriquí Province of western Panama. They visited habitats ranging from coral reefs to cloud forests. Chuck ran a moth station with a UV light on 13 evenings of their stay at 5,000 ft elevation on the flanks of Volcan Barú. The resulting moth diversity was stunning. Chuck will also highlight some of the other butterflies, insects, plants, and habitats encountered during the visit.

Also, Dr. Sexton was interviewed in April by the staff of and the interview was subsequently posted on Vimeo in June. The links to the iNaturalist blog announcing the interview and a direct link to the Vimeo interview: Dr. Chuck Sexton is a retired professional wildlife biologist who has spent almost all of his career based in Central Texas. He grew up in southern California and migrated to Austin in the mid-1970’s to attend graduate school. He received his doctoral degree in 1987 studying the impacts of urbanization on birds. With Greg Lasley, he was Texas regional editor for American Birds for many years. He has served on the Texas Bird Records Committee and the ABA Bird Checklist Committee. He worked in the City of Austin’s Environmental Department for a decade, during which he had a hand in designing the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan. He worked for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for 16 year as the biologist at the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, retiring from that position in 2010. He is an active “eBirder” and “iNaturalist” and continues to lecture and lead field trips.

The Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Society (HLBWS) meets the first Thursday of each month from September to June at the Texas A&M Agri-Life Extension Offices in Burnet at 607 North Vandeveer St. Social time starts at 9:30 AM followed by the meeting at 10:00 AM.

The monthly bird walk, led by expert birders, will meet at 8:15 AM at the pavilion by the ball fields behind the Galloway-Hammond YMCA, located at 1601 Hwy. 281 South (South Water St.), Burnet. Be ready with your walking shoes, binoculars, camera’s, field guides, and birding phone apps. The public is always welcome

Past Programs
October 4th Program
Scott Summers, Environmental Protection Specialist, will be our speaker at the October 4th meeting of the HLBWS. Scott has worked at Fort Hood, Texas in numerous capacities the last 22 years. He will be enlightening us about bird research at Fort Hood, namely Blackcapped Vireos, Brown-headed Cowbirds, and Golden-cheeked Warblers. Black-capped Vireos were listed endangered in 1987 due to habitat loss (land use changes) and nest parasitism by brood-parasitic Brown-headed Cowbirds. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially delisted this vireo May 16, 2018, due in part to successful cowbird trapping. As with every delisting action, a mandatory minimum 5-year post-delisting monitoring plan takes effect. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service mandated Fort Hood monitor vireos and cowbird trapping for the next twelve years to ensure the vireos remain recovered. As such, Fort Hood started a study to determine if the vireos will revert back to pre-trapping days of excessive, > 90%, and unsustainable, >40%, parasitism when cowbirds are no longer trapped. Goldencheeked Warblers remain endangered (listed 1990), thus resource managers, agencies, and landowners hold the key to species protection and recovery because these birds require latesuccession, dense stands of Ashe juniper to nest. This habitat occurs only in 33 central Texas counties. However, science knows little about their wintering ranges, migration routes, and stopover sites to and from Central America. In order to gain a clearer understanding of these unknowns, Fort Hood is studying the birds using geolocators to track movements and habitat use during these non-nesting seasons. This knowledge could allow conservation leaders to engage in the protection of wintering and stopover habitat, which could lead to species recovery. Scott grew up learning the outdoors right alongside the Ft. Hood installation’s boundary on a 400-acre cattle ranch. He spent his time hunting, fishing, and camping with friends/family, his whole life learning about wildlife. While trying to figure out his major in college, Scott decided to pursue and earn (1994) a B.S. in Wildlife Biology & minor in Agriculture at Texas State University in San Marcos. Early in his career, Scott made brief field stops working in the South Texas brush country (Pearsall-Frio County), Oklahoma Tallgrass prairies (Pawhuska-Osage County), and the Mallee Scrub (Blanchtown-Brookfield Conservation Park) region of South Australia assisting studies of habitats of imperiled birdsNorthern Bobwhite, Greater Prairie Chicken, and Splendid & White-winged Fairy Wrens. Scott has worked with Brown-headed Cowbirds, endangered species, and prescribed fire at Fort Hood from 1997-2018. He has assisted in deer and wild hogs since 2007. Beginning in 2014, Scott began leading natural resources outreach at Fort Hood to inform soldiers, Army families, and local communities about news and information related to wild things that call Fort Hood home. In addition to his full-time job, Scott works part-time assisting private landowners with wildlife management mostly through contracted-type work if/when his days off and evenings allow. Scott is married with no children, but is a proud daddy to two dogs- Frida a female longhair Chihuahua, and Archie a male Tibetan Spaniel.
September 6th Speaker and Program 
Our speaker to start of the new year is Ms. Kelly Tarla, Burnet County Agri-Life Extension Agent since 2015. Kelly’s presentation will center on the Plants of the 98th Meridian. The 98th (historically the 100th) meridian corresponds with the eastern edge of the Great Plains. It is a marker that denotes vast changes in geology, ecology, and American history. Kelly’s primary professional responsibilities include educating the public on livestock production, forage production, wildlife, range management, horticulture and keeping up with an active 4-H Program. Some of the programs that are offered are Small Landowner Workshops, Central Texas Hay Production Workshop, and Natural Resources Management. Kelly assists with the Highland Lakes Master Gardeners and Highland Lakes Master Naturalists with the functions of their chapters. One of the advantages of the Texas A&M Agri-Life Extension Service is the availability of experience and knowledge from other extension agents throughout the state that can benefit the local community. Kelly grew up in North Texas in Van Alstyne and attended Tarleton State University and studied Agriculture Services and Development. She graduated with her Bachelors in 2001 and returned to earn her Masters in Agriculture Education in 2003. Kelly started teaching Agriculture in Higgins, Texas in the 2003-2004 school year. She left Higgins and took a position in Bastrop County as the County Extension Agent for 4-H and Youth Development and was there from 2005-2008. She went back into teaching agriculture at Academy High School from 2008-2014 and then taught 5th grade at Florence Elementary from 2014-2015 and took her current position in June of 2015. Kelly truly enjoys her position with Burnet County Extension and serving the citizens of Burnet County and surrounding areas. She and her husband, Bryan, spend their free time raising their 7-year-old son, Ridge and 6-month-old son, Creed. Please join us and Kelly at 9:30 AM on September 6th for Meet-and-Greet, and 10:00 AM for our program and meeting at the Texas Agri-Life Extension Office in Burnet.    From US 281 N, go 3 blocks past Hwy 29 and turn right on Johnson St. Go 3 blocks and turn left on Vandeveer.  Go up the street to the large parking lot on the right.   Enter the door by the large parking lot.  Advanced Training credit for Master Gardeners

Our speaker for June 7th was Bill Neiman

Many of you will likely remember the inimitable presentation of our June guest speaker, Bill Neiman, at our October 2016 meeting when Las Tres Amigas (LTA) was only in its 2nd month of tenure leading HLBWS. It is fitting that this naturalist/farmer/ecologist, who encourages becoming native to place (indigenous) should return to talk with us again at this final meeting of LTA’s 2-year leadership term.

Bill is a renaissance man, an enigma in our chaotic world of rush and worry and change. He consistently prompts us to pay attention to the importance of our actions as we think about our earth. Often compared to ecologist Aldo Leopold, Bill reminds us of the positive results we can achieve if we strive towards Native, as we work our land or plant our plants or help design our communities. He is a champion for good stewardship of this earth, of this planet.
gas (LTA) was only in its 2
nd month of tenure leading HLBWS. It is fitting that this naturalist/farmer/ecologist, who encourages becoming native to place (indigenous) should return to talk with us again at this final meeting of LTA’s 2-year leadership term.

If you’re thinking that this man sounds pretty esoteric, well think again, because he’s also the hammer down, dawn to dusk, down to earth hard-working prototype that has built his business, Native American Seed, from the ground up. As an invited presenter at Laura Bush’s Texan by Nature Symposium in 2016, his short bio stated the following: “After 20 years operating Neiman Environme

nts Nursery and Landscape Construction, Bill & Jan Neiman founded Native American Seed in 1988. Concentrating on harvest of 100% native wildflower and prairie grass seeds, Bill offers no alien plant species. The company name stems from Neiman’s high regard for the Native Americans’ relationship with the natural environment. Bill is at home with boots on the ground in the natural resource and ecological restoration community. Helping people restore land, Native American Seed has planted thousands of acres of native prairie. Neiman is a passionate practitioner from the field…preserving, protecting, harvesting and propagating a wide diversity of native species across Texas.”  

If you get a chance, you ought to go on down to Commons Ford Park, part of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, to see the restored prairie that Native American Seed planted in conjunction with Travis Audubon’s restoration work there. It’s in full bloom right now and is truly spectacular. If you like the American Basketflower (along with lavish numbers of other species of wildflowers) you’ll love that large restored prairie!Image result for image of american basketflower

And take a look at the Spring 2018 issue of the Native American Seed Catalog, Ecological Solutions, the Grass Issue. While you’re there, read Bill’s opening article for the catalog – I predict we’ll be hearing more about indigenous opportunities on June 7th. Approved for AT credit for MG and MN

Margy Butler

May 3rd, 2018 Presentation - Botany Expert Minnette Marr, MS                 

Thursday, May 3, 2018 It’s Botany Time again in HLBWS-land, honoring all the beautiful spring wildflowers, and our guest botanist is another well-known expert in these parts, Minnette Marr, MS. If you are a Master Naturalist or a Master Gardener, or if you’ve spent much time at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, you’ve probably done some course study with Minnette, who, along with botany programs, also presents studies in riparian issues. Taking a cue from Neil deGrasse Tyson’s latest best seller (Astrophysics for People In a Hurry ) the title of Minnette’s presentation is “Conservation Ranks For People In a Hurry” and will help explain the endangered species ranking system and values. Her presentation will cover Texas rare and endangered native wildflowers, including the Basin Bellflower (G2S2) and Creeping Bellflower (GNR) and will explain what these rankings define as she talks about our precious Texas natives. Minnette Marr, MS is Plant Conservationist at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  Over the last twelve years, she has participated in projects supported by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, National Forest Foundation, Houston Foundation and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Currently, she is reviewing the conservation ranks of Species of Greatest Conservation Need for Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. The project is funded by TPWD’s Conservation License Plate grant program. You’ll want to be at this presentation to hear Minnette speak about the rare plant beauties in our midst. The May meeting of the Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Society will be Thursday, May 3, and will be at the Marble Falls Library. The day schedule follows, and all are welcome to attend. Bird walk is at 8:30a, Meet and Greet at 9:30a, Meeting at 10:00a, and Program follows meeting at 10:30a. 

April Program - Thursday, April 5, 2018 - Wildflower expert Michael Eason

Spring brings masses of beautiful wild flowers blooming in the Hill Country along with many birds which visit our area in springtime, moving north on migration flyways to summer breeding grounds. We’ve been watching the birds for the past few months, but in April all eyes will be on the multitudinous and varied wildflowers that grace Texas roadsides and fields.

The Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Society will welcome noted Texas Botanist Michael Eason to its podium on April 6th to help wild flower fanatics get up to speed in identifying these gorgeous and prolific wonders. Michael is a freelance Botanist who performs plant surveys and inventories on both private and public lands throughout Texas. Additionally, he is on staff at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens, where he heads the Rare Plant Research and Conservation Program. Previously he worked for the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center as Conservation Program Manager, a position he held from 2003-2012. During this time he managed such projects as the Millennium Seed Bank, Ferns of the Trans-Pecos, and the Vegetation Survey of Big Bend National Park.  

The presentation will cover the process of writing his soon to be published book “Wildflowers of Texas – a New Field Guide for the State of Texas and Surrounding Areas” (publication date 4/17/18). The book is a field guide covering 1170 taxa of both native and naturalized species and primarily covers herbaceous flowering plants. It contains

common, uncommon and rare plants found within the borders of Texas. During the course of this project, after tens of thousands of road miles, and hundreds of hiking miles, numerous range extensions were recorded, and several new species for Texas were identified, along with the rediscovery of a South Texas water lily (Nymphaea ampla). While the book contains various species which may be found in other field guides, many of the plants included have never been recorded in any other Texas guide. It also includes photos of other plants that have either never been photographed, or have been inadequately photographed.  

If you love seeing Texas wildflowers in the spring and would like to learn more about how to identify different species, the Marble Falls Library on Main in Marble Falls, TX is the place you’ll want to be on Thursday, April 5. The bird walk starts at 8:30 AM and all are welcome. You’ll be back to the library in time for the Meet and Greet at 9:30 AM, and the meeting starts at 10:00 AM with program to follow. All are welcome so come and bring friends!

Our Thursday. March 1st, 2018 Speaker

Greg Lasley will return to the Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Society’s speaker podium on March 1, 2018 with his typically breathtaking photographic record, this time of the birds and animals that reside in the area of his recent journey, the remarkable and enormous Brazilian Pantanal. In Greg’s words, “Our adventure on the Cuiaba River will present some images of the incredible wildlife that we saw while visiting this remote area in the Pantanal of Brazil. From exotic bird species to magnificent views of wild Jaguars, this was an incredible wildlife experience.”
Quoting from "The Pantanal in the 21st Century: For the World's Largest Wetland, an Uncertain Future," by Frederick A. Swarts, “The Pantanal of South America is one of the most immense, pristine and biologically rich environments on the planet. Often referred to as the world’s largest freshwater wetland system, it extends through millions of hectares (75,000 acres) of central-western Brazil, eastern Bolivia and eastern Paraguay. With its extraordinarily concentrated and diverse flora and fauna, and a landscape spanning a variety of ecological sub-regions, the Pantanal stands as one of the world’s great natural wonders.”

The Pantanal ecosystem is home to 3500 known plant species, to 1000 bird species, 400 fish species, 300 mammalian species, 480 reptile species and over 9000 different subspecies of invertebrates.

If you would like to prepare for Greg’s program by reading more about the Pantanal, here are a few links:

The Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Society will meet Thursday March 1 to hear this extraordinary presentation. HLBWS meets the first Thursday of each month (excepting July and August) at the Marble Falls Library. A bird walk, led by a local expert guide, convenes across the street from the library at 8:30AM, a Meet and Greet is held in the meeting room of the library from 9:30AM to 10:00AM, and the meeting starts at 10:00AM with the program to follow. All are welcome, and we hope to see you there. 

Some Past Programs Listed Below
 Program - Thursday, February 1st, 2018

Meeting of the Birding & Wildflower Society at the Marble Falls Library. Bird walk at 8:30, Social at 9:30, Meeting and Program at 10:00. Paul Yura, Warning Coordination Meteorologist, NOAA, National Weather Service, will speak on "Extreme Weather in 2017, Will it Continue?" Check at the meeting for information on a field trip to the Weather Center. 
AT for MN and MG
When Hurricane Harvey came barreling onto the Gulf Coast last August, making landfall near Rockport, TX, it arrived as a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 130 mph. Carla, in 1961, was the most recent storm of that astonishing intensity to pummel our coastline, although as we well know, the Texas Gulf Coast has experienced many destructive and devastating storms of lesser strength during the interim. By the time Harvey was through with the Texas Coast it had made 3 landfalls and left in its wake a debris field of mammoth proportions. The storm may now own the rank of the costliest tropical cyclone on record, estimates continue to rise up- wards of $160 billion in damages, with a significant part of the cost relating to the exceptional flooding in Houston. Paul Yura, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at NOAA, The National Weather Service, will be the guest speaker at the HLBWS meeting on Thursday, February 1. His presentation topic is “Extreme Weather in 2017, Will it Continue?” and the talk will provide enlightening information plus compelling photos and weather images from the huge storm Harvey. It will ask the question many of us consider regularly, “Is the weather really getting worse?” Paul is a native Texan, a UT Longhorn prior to transferring to the U of Oklahoma (where else to be on the ground and personal in the study of extreme weather?) attaining his Bachelor of Science Degree in Meteorology and then attending Graduate School. During school years he worked summers for the Austin Weather Service Office and the Norman Oklahoma National Weather Service Office, beginning his full-time career after graduation back in Texas with the National Weather Service as a forecaster. Paul is a strong scientist and an outstanding presenter. His topic speaks to our own special interests in the condition of the biome and how extreme weather,like the storm Harvey, affects our world of avifauna and flora. Please plan to join us for this interesting presentation. The Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Society meets at the Marble Falls Library, 101 Main Street, in Marble Falls. The public is invited to all meeting day activities which begin with a bird watching walk, led by a premier local bird guide, convening at 8:30 am at the church parking lot across the street from the library. At 9:30 am the Meet and Greet coffee meets in the Community Room of the library, the meeting begins at 10:00 am, and the program follows the meeting, ending around 11:50 am. We hope to see you and your guests there! ********************************************************************
Save the date for the Wildflower Exhibit at the Burnet Bluebonnet Festival April 13 and 14, 2018. Times announced later.

Thursday, January 4th, 2018

 Steve Nelle, one of the most respected wildlife scientists in the Southwest, will be our guest speaker at the HLBWS January meeting on January 4th 2018, and we are in for a real treat! Nelle is a Wildlife Biologist and is retired from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. He has 39 years of experience in working with private landowners in Texas, putting land stewardship research, facts, and methods into practice. He honors the memory of ecologist Aldo Leopold, and he’ll be talking to us about the history of the Hill Country landscape, about the diversity of our forests, and about how to be well informed and capable stewards of our beautiful land. He has worked in the Rio Grande Plains, Rolling Plains, Trans Pecos, and Edwards Plateau helping landowners plan and carry out comprehensive range/wildlife/watershed management. He is a graduate of Texas Tech, receiving a BS in Range and Wildlife Management in 1976. Steve is a Life Member of the Society for Range Management and is active in the Texas Wildlife Association. Steve’s areas of special interest include plant ecology, inspiring genuine land stewardship, and the ecological role of juniper in the Edwards Plateau

Our Thursday, December 7th Meeting
Dr. Byron "Doc" Stone
Dr. Byron "Doc" Stone, one of our favorite birding and field trip experts, is back! His presentations and field trips for the Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Society previously have dealt with the Big Birds, the Raptors, but now we go on to another family of birds, those pesky Little Brown Birds, the sparrows, some of the wee small birds in our Hill Country bird lexicon. His talk will feature the various species of sparrows who journey down to Central Texas in the winter, snow birds as it were, when he presents to the HLBWS at the next meeting, Thursday December 7

Some might tend to undervalue these Little Brown Birds, but as anyone who has birded with Doc on one of his SparrowFests at the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, or perhaps attended one of his sparrow classes at Travis Audubon Society can verify, thinking that would be a serious error. As co-founder of the ever popular SparrowFest, held each mid-winter, Doc has helped many birders develop a strong appreciation for the over 20 species of this small aerial visitor that arrives each late fall to winter in our area. Folks come from far and away these days to walk the grasslands and to learn from this inimitable and able instructor/leader about the distinguishing marks and behavioral patterns which determine whether it’s a Rufus sparrow you’re looking at say, or a Chipping Sparrow. Did you see that Savanna? There’s a Lincoln! Easy you say? Think again! Doc will be leading a Sparrow Field Trip for the HLBWS the day after his presentation to find and identify the inimitable sparrow. If you’re interested in joining in to learn some of the ins and outs of birding from this exceptional naturalist, be sure to come to the meeting on Thursday, December 7th.  

The HLBWS meets Thursday, December 7th, at the Marble Falls Library, 101 Main St. in Marble Falls. Here’s the schedule:  8:30A Bird Walk, 9:30A Meet and Greet with Goodies, 10:00A Meeting, 10:30A Program, all in the Library’s Community Room. All are welcome, and we’ll hope to see you! And bring your friends along too!

Our Thursday, November 2nd Meeting
Back at the HLBWS Speaker’s Podium after a long birding induced absence, our own HLBWS Honorary Member, Chuck Sexton, is November’s presenter. He’ll be talking about birding at, literally, the perimeter corners of Texas, and Texas has a bunch of corners! Chuck and his buddy Greg Lasley, another favorite presenter at HLBWS who will be back with us in the spring of 2018, took it upon themselves to consider the birding populations at the right angle corners of the Texas map. Chuck disavows his photography prowess, so most of the images here (except for the one above, courtesy of Kelly Barr) are Lasley’s who we all know is a top-notch camera man. Chuck grew up in southern California and migrated to Austin in the mid- 1970’s to attend graduate school. He received his doctoral degree in 1987 studying the impacts of urbanization on birds. With Greg Lasley, he was Texas regional co-editor for American Birds for many years. He has served on the Texas Bird Records Committee and the ABA Bird Checklist Committee. He worked in the City of Austin’s Environmental Department for a decade, during which he had a hand in designing the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan, the vehicle which Valerie Bristol familiarized us with in September, out of which grew the BCNWR and the BCP. He worked for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for 16 years as the Biologist at the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, retiring from that position in 2010. If you’d like to get a preview of what this program will be about, read Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine, August/September 2017: "Birding the Corners” by Russell Roe. In this article Roe offers a brief version of Chuck’s more extensive program. Roe interviewed Chuck and his long-time friend Greg Lasley for the article, supplemented by a small sample of Greg’s world-class images. For years the HLBWS club meeting year was started off with Chuck presenting our September program, and it’s a major treat to finally have him back at the podium! He’s been a busy man these years since his retirement from BCNWR, intent on birding, and is finally ready to let us see some of the rewards of his avifauna activities. Don’t miss this meeting! We may not be able to convince him to come back inside again for a very long time! Thursday, November 2nd, Bird walk at 8:30a, meet at parking lot across the street from the church, 9:30a Meet and Greet, 10:00a Meeting, and Program at ±10:30a. All y’all come!   
AT credit for MN

October 5th,2017 Meeting


 In our September meeting we learned about the groundwork that went into the formation and ultimate establishment of two sanctuaries, the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve (BCP) and the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge (BCNWR) both created to protect the habitat of the endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler (GCW) and the also endangered Black-capped Vireo (BCV) along with other rare species of plants and animals. Our October meeting continues the topic with presenter Bill Reiner, biologist who is a member of the team that monitors and manages the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve. As Endangered Species Biologist at BCP, his avifauna focus is on the Golden-cheeked Warbler and the Black-capped Vireo (which has been proposed for removal from the Endangered Species List by USFWS.) He has been on the staff of Austin’s Wildland Conservation Division since 2006. His presentation will focus on “The Natural Community of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, with Findings of a Recent Study on the Golden-cheeked Warbler.” The presentation will cover the general biology of the preserve along with details from a recently completed intensive study of the viability of the Golden-cheeked Warbler population on the BCP. Prior to his position with the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, Bill worked for five years at the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge where one of his seasonal responsibilities was mapping territories of Golden-cheeked Warblers and Black-capped Vireos. He has also worked with an Austin based environmental consulting firm to conduct presence/absence and territory-mapping surveys for these species. Originally from Ohio, where he received a B.S. from the Ohio State University, Bill has been a Texan for more than 25 years. He has been an avid birder since childhood and is fascinated by all the many aspects of natural history and ecology, especially with how plants and animals fill niches in their environments and form communities. If you have attended SparrowFest, which is held each February at the BCNWR, you already know Bill since he has been co-leader of SparrowFest for many years. For further info, Bill has suggested “Habitat Conservation Planning: Endangered Species and Urban Growth” by Timothy Beatley, and notes that Chapter 12 provides a detailed history of the origins of the BCP. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve and the present state of the GCW’s. As always, the HLBWS meets on the first Thursday of each month, September through June, at the Marble Falls Library at 101 Main in Marble Falls. The October meeting is on Thursday, October 5th; the Early Morning Bird Walk meets in the church parking lot across the street from the Library at 8:30AM, the Meet and Greet with coffee and goodies is in the library Meeting Room at 9:30AM, and the meeting and program start at 10:00AM. We hope to see you there!  AT credit for MN

September 7, 2017 Meeting

Our first meeting of the year is September 7 and the topic is one that is sure to interest all nature lovers and conservationists, being about the establishment of our two close sanctuaries, the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge and the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve. Our speaker was very active in shepherding the formation of these two reserves and is an avid conservationist who has long been active in the protection of the endangered species that they were formed to shelter, the Golden-cheeked Warbler and the Black Capped Vireo. Highly regarded for her conservation contributions to our part of the world, Valarie Bristol is also a highly entertaining and interesting speaker. Her presentation, which will cover the establishment of this preserve system, will also inform as to the current status of the Golden-cheeked Warbler and the pressures on a continually diminishing habitat. The public is invited to attend this interesting and timely presentation on Thursday, September 7 at the Marble Falls Library at 101 Main in Marble Falls. A bird walk assembles at 8:30 AM, starting out from the parking lot of the church across the street from the library, a Meet and Greet takes place in the meeting room at 9:30 AM, and the meeting and program begin at 10:00 AM. All are welcome to attend, and we hope to see you there!  AT credit for MN

Our own world class and world traveled birders, Joan Mukherjee and Sherry Bixler, will be presenting the Thursday,May 4th program for HLBWS. They will be talking about their recent trip to The Falklands, South Georgia, and Antarctica and from the photos that they have supplied, it’s apparent that we are in for a major treat.

Here are some things you may not already know about these two intrepid explorers. Joan Mukherjee is an organic chemist who worked at 3M for 28 years. She grew up on a Minnesota farm and 3M brought her to Texas. After retirement, she began volunteering by doing taxes for AARP for 16 years. At the same time she became fascinated with the abundance of native plants and wildlife found in the wild areas of the Hill Country so she learned to identify and propagate native plants. From there she migrated to birding and to many other environmental interests. She volunteers at Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge as well as at other wildlife venues in the area, and is a member of the Board of the Friends of Balcones, is a Texas Master Naturalist, a Past President of the Native Plant Society, and a Past President of our own organization.

Sherry Bixler lived in New Mexico 42 years before moving back to Texas in 2008. In New Mexico she was an accountant and also owned and managed business and commercial property. Her family were camping, fishing and nature lovers and as she became more and more interested in birds, she began birding in earnest and now has been a serious bird watcher for over 50 years. As any of you who have participated in our 8:30am bird walks on meeting day with Sherry already know, she is a world class birder and has done over 20 world birding trips in the past 5 or 6 years. She has also birded in all 50 states of the USA. Sherry is a Texas Master Naturalist and is on the Board of our organization.

You won’t want to miss this excellent program presented by these two very specialized and expert birders   Advanced Training credit for MN  Social at 9:30 - Meeting and program at 10:00 at the Marble Falls Library.

Flight to Freedom

What happens at the very moment of release to freedom?

Loading on the boat, that gray high fog, cool early morning on Lake Buchanan, our Birding and Wildflower group, 33 strong, was quieter than normal. It had to be on your mind, the thought – these birds were born free, but then were damaged in freedom. How does a bird adapt to the confinement of convalescence and now, after months of recovery, adapt to being released to the uncertainty that is part of a free life? How will these raptors react?

The raptors would be released from the top deck of VTRC’s larger boat, the Texas Eagle. Most of our group piled up the stairs for good visibility while a few stayed below. There were 73 human passengers, and various large crates of raptors on board when we finally all loaded. Tim, our well-informed and pleasant guide of previous trips on the Texas Eagle this club year, would inform re historical and environmental details, the Last Chance Forever Raptor Conservancy (LCF) crew, headed by Kelly Rayner, would handle the avifauna information. And the birds.

It took some motoring before the LCF crew found a likely spot for the first release, and as Capt’n Shawn maneuvered the boat into position, backing it in closer to the area, Kelly brought the first release bird around for all to see, a red-shouldered hawk. The winner of the numbered drawing, set up by LCF, to release the first bird was our member Greg White.

It happened fast! Leaving observers awestruck. No question now how the birds would react. Zooming through the air, over the water, over the trees, tilting, looking, and landing in the top of a tall tree. All accomplished in seconds. Breathtaking!

We were fortunate to be able to watch the whole scenario two more times, motoring to a good place, meeting the bird that would soon be free, watching it be released. All told, it took about two and a half hours to accomplish. In the meantime LCR staff brought other raptors around that would not be released so all could have a close look. And back at the dock, as we got off the boat, a bald eagle 4 year old still displaying some brown streaks in the white neck feathers, was waiting for those who wanted individual candid shots. “Make sure you stay to the left of the bird!” Remember?

It was a remarkable day. These comments come from some of our members and guests who were there:

“… experiencing the exhilaration of setting raptors free to their natural habitat was the highlight of the cruise.”

“…the best thing about the trip for me was to be up close & personal with those raptors and to look them in the eye! Second best was being with like-minded people who also enjoyed every minute of the trip.”

“It was thrilling to see the release of the hawk and owls. The opportunity to see the plumage, heads and talons of these birds close-up was amazing.”

“It was a privilege to participate on such a gorgeous day with the amazing team from Last Chance Forever, aboard the Vanishing Texas River Cruise, talking with the crew of the boat and like-minded people during the journey, but most of all seeing, sharing, and feeling the rehabbed birds as they spread their wings and found their new homes, and knowing that I have played a small part of that.”

“Aside from the great feeling of watching the rehabbed birds fly away to new homes, I'd say that the best part of the trip was the willingness of everybody in the Last Chance group and Tim to answer any and every question we had. They were patient and happy to explain anything. They spoke from experience and with general love of the birds and the area. There was also the moment of excitement for me when they called the number My number was 70 and Greg White was 71. He got to release the hawk. It was great that passengers were randomly chosen to do the releases.”

Thanks to all who took this trip and responded with your photos and comments. This was one for the books, wasn’t it?

Comments from Freedom Flight Field Trip participating HLBWS members and guests.

By Margy Butler

VTRC - Freedom Flight

Single click

on picture

to see 

"Freedom Flight"


"Plants of the Llano Uplift"
Our Thursday, April 6th,2017 program was:
You know, there are botanists in the world of flora, and then there are BOTANISTS! Our speaker at the HLBWS meeting on April 6 will be Bill Carr, BOTANIST, who has spent 25 years doing field work for Texas plant conservation programs, first with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and later with The Nature Conservancy of Texas. He is held in high regard by botanists near and far, often being called on for plant identification issues that have stumped the experts. And as one participant remarked last late summer on a Field Trip that Bill led for the HLBWS Flying X Plant Taxonomy Class, “Bill is the experts’ expert. It’s not only knowing plants but it’s that he takes the time to explain how he identifies a plant and how to tell the difference between very similar species.” Bill received his B. S. in Botany from The Ohio State University in December 1978 and wasted no time moving to Texas, settling in Alpine in January 1979 before eventually relocating to Austin, working with TPWD and then later with The Nature Conservancy. Since leaving
 TNCT in 2011, he has been working with private landowners to help identify the special plants and habitats on their properties. He has contributed about 25,000 specimens to the herbarium at the University of Texas at Austin, and since spring 2015, he has been employed as one of the part-time assistant curators of the herbarium at the Plant Resources Center at UT. Bill’s presentation will explore the relationship of surface geology to plant distribution, or more specifically, The Botany of the Llano Uplift of Texas. It’s sure to be a most interesting presentation to all of us here who have the privilege of experiencing the geology and the botany of the Llano Uplift on a daily basis. In addition, Bill will be leading a field trip that same afternoon for HLBWS, to an area that is close by, to see in this exquisite wildflower season, what we can find. Watch your email and the Yahoo Groups Site to learn further Field Trip and signup information. April 6 is meeting day AND Field Trip day, Marble Falls Library, 8:30 AM bird walk, 9:30 AM Meet and Greet, 10:00 Meeting and Program. We hope to see you there to hear this notable speaker!        (by Margy Butler)

Thursday, March 2nd - Meeting of the Birding & Wildflower Society at the Marble Falls Library.  Meeting and public program at 10 AM. "Ornithology! Migrating birds, with special attention to the Golden-cheeked Warbler and the Black-capped Vireo", our two Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge protected birds.  Program speaker is Dr. Craig Farquhar, TPWD ornithologist extraordinaire

Damselflies and Dragonflies
Our February 2nd, 2017 speaker was Greg Lasley, nationally known naturalist and photographer.  
You will really enjoy his website at    Advanced Training for MN and MG.

Greg Lasley, birder extraordinaire, environmentalist, wild life photographer, conservationist, world traveler, tour leader, Odonata expert, will be the guest speaker at the February meeting. Greg is well known for his striking photos of wild life in Texas and across the world. If you’re interested in looking at views of Texas wildlife, his book Greg Lasley’s Texas Wildlife Portraits, published in 2008 by TAMU Press is an outstanding place to start. Eminent naturalists John and Gloria Tveten, in their Introduction to this book, stated “In our minds, one Texan best personifies the combination of expert naturalist and consummate wildlife photographer. That person is Greg Lasley.”

Greg was in the Air Force in 1971 when he took his first picture of a bird. By 1976 he was photographing, tape-recording, documenting rare birds, and by the late 1970’s and 1980’s he was presenting talks to nature oriented groups, including photos of the many rare species he had photographed. Later in the 1980’s Greg and Chuck Sexton, then Biologist at Balcones Canyonlands NWR, took over editorship of American Birds, a publication of the American Birding Association which is now known as North American Birds.

Serving two terms on each of two separate and important Bird Records Committees, the Texas Ornithological Society’s, and the American Birding Association’s (these committees authenticate rare bird sightings) Greg has been at the forefront of exceptional bird species discoveries in Texas and across America.

Greg spent 25 years in law enforcement, retiring from the Austin Police Department in 1997. After retiring, he spent much of the next ten years leading bird-watching trips over the western hemisphere for Victor Emmanuel Nature Tours (VENT), and his time currently is spent on studies, and photo-studies, of a wide range of flora and fauna

throughout the world.

Greg will be presenting a program in February on damselflies and dragonflies. If you would like to know more about Greg and to see some of his excellent photography, please visit his website at

Meetings of the Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Society are held on the first Thursday of each month (except July and August) at the Marble Falls Library meeting room at 101 Main, Marble Falls. Meet and Greet is at 9:30am, meeting starts at 10:00am. Meetings are open to the public and we hope to see you there!

 AT CREDIT for MN and MG.

Ecological History of the Edwards Plateau and the Texas Hill Country

Our last program was on Thursday, January 5th, 2017.  The speaker was Lisa O'Donnell. A native Texan, Lisa has lived in Texas most of her life and has devoted the major portion of her life-work as an Endangered Species Biologist to investigation of the ecological history of the Edwards Plateau and the Texas Hill Country.

This presentation is the product of over 25 years of research. Today, as Senior Biologist and rare plants expert for the City of Austin’s Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, Lisa provides historical research and evidence based ecological criteria as a foundation for land management decisions, including those concerning the protection of the Golden-cheeked Warbler, Black-capped Vireo, karst invertebrates, aquatic salamanders, and rare plants that occur within the Preserve. 

In 1991, soon after the listing of the Golden-cheeked Warbler on the Endangered Species List, Lisa began working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Hearing frequent claims the Hill Country was originally dominated by grasslands, Lisa began researching this issue and has been compiling historical accounts and documents relating to the botanical diversity of the Edwards Plateau ever since. Her research concerning the botanical species juniperas ashei, known locally as ce
dar, has been particularly informative in view of recent efforts to de-list the Golden-cheeked Warbler from the protected species status. 
With unprecedented growth in our area, with important habitat regularly under challenge from development and with many different confusing opinions being forwarded about various flora and fauna positions in the grand scheme of environment, this an opportunity to listen to scientific research and to learn the facts in making wise decisions for your own corner of our world.
All are welcome at the meetings of the Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Society which meets monthly, first Thursday of each month except July and August. Meet and greet starts at 9:30 a.m., meeting and program at 10:00.  We hope you will join us. 
Free Bird Walk

Birding expert Sherry Bixler will again be leading her birding walks before our regular HLBWS meetings. Everyone will meet in the church parking lot kitty-corner from the library on Main, at 8:30 AM  before our meetings, the first Thursday of each month, September to June.  AT credit for MN

The Book Group

Book Group - Third Monday, September - May at the Marble Falls Library Community Room 11 AM. Take advantage of an exciting opportunity to explore topics and share ideas about plants and nature.  Next book group discussion will be September 18th.

 For more information, call Betsy Bouchard, 847-302-3879.


Here are some pictures from our recent field trip to Balcones National Wildlife Refuge and the Wildflower Exhibit during the Bluebonnet Festival.  Thanks to Fran and Steve Goodmon, Joan Mukherjee and Lori Greco and the many volunteers who helped put on this great exhibit.  Single click on the arrow to see all the pictures.

Past Speakers

June 4th, 2015 Meeting
Cathy Downs from NPSOT presented on "Monarch Butterflies and Milkweed"  AT for MN and MG
Each fall, hundreds of millions of monarch butterflies migrate from the United States and Canada to overwintering areas in Mexico and California where they wait out the winter until conditions favor a return flight in the spring. The monarch migration is truly one of the world's greatest natural wonders, yet it is threatened by habitat loss in North America - at the overwintering sites and throughout the spring and summer breeding range as well.  Learn what you can do to help.

Cathy was born and raised in New England. She retired to Comfort, TX in 2004 from a 30 year career owning and operating her own retail businesses from coast to coast.

She currently chairs the Bring Back the Monarchs to Texas (BBMT) program. The BBMT is a developing monarch habitat project in cooperation with Native Plant Society of Texas and Monarch Watch. Cathy is also a certified Monarch Larval Monitoring Project educator and teaches Monarch biology, habitat and migration at various locations throughout Texas.

Since certifying as a Master Naturalist in 2005, she has been teaching children and adults about native Texas butterflies and their host plants with an emphasis on Monarch biology and migration. Cathy raises Monarch caterpillars for education as well as propagating native milkweeds. She hosts live Butterfly Pavilions at Nature Centers and State Parks throughout the Hill Country area.

Cathy has served as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Butterfly Theater at Kerrville Schreiner Park for 6 years. The 11,000 sq. ft. garden is a certified Monarch Waystation and Monarch Larval Monitoring Project site.

She is the compiler for the North American Butterfly Association July 4th count - Boerne Circle. She participates in the Nature Box Program with Cibolo Nature Center bringing Natural Science topics to elementary schools in the Boerne area.

Cathy recently participated in the Tx. Wildlife Association Distance Learning Program. She presented her program, The Magic of Monarchs, which was simulcast to 179 schools in 12 states. 6,300 children in 1st through 5th grades tuned in bringing her Monarch education client totals to over 14,000 children and adults.

The June 4th HLBWS meeting will be followed by a picnic lunch at Johnson Park where one of the Monarch Way Station Butterfly gardens exists. This garden was prepared by the Highland Lakes Chapter of NPSOT.

"Attracting Bluebirds"

Thursday, May 7th, 2015 - Meeting of the Birding & Wildflower Society  
10:00 AM at the Marble Falls Library.   Pauline Tom is our speaker for May.  She will tell us how to attract bluebirds.  
Pauline is a wife, mother, and grandmother who delights in spreading the joy of bluebirds and making memories.

Co-founder of Texas Bluebird Society, Pauline Tom envisioned an organization to give out Texas-specific bluebird information and to spread the bluebird population to new locales.  

TBS President 2001 – present.  She hopes someone will take the reins really soon.

North American Bluebird Society Board of Directors, 2001 – 2007. Recognized by NABS for leadership in bluebird conservation and for contributions to the organization.

 Expert Arlene Pearce presented an interesting program on "Bird Rehabilitation"  

Arlene Pearce does expert rehabilitation work with wild birds.  Some have been hit by cars, found abandoned in their nests, attacked by family pets or even electrocuted from outdated electrical wiring.  Most come to the center thanks to concerned citizens such as yourselves.  Since 1999, she has mended countless wings, hand-fed fledglings and even raises mealworms to feed her patients.  Working closely with local Texas Parks and Wildlife rangers, veterinarians and local ranchers, she treats and releases over 100 birds each year.   In 2013, she rehabilitated and released 20 screech owls.  

Check out Sheryl Smith-Rodgers  website. 

Check out future HLBWS and other programs on the Garden and Community Events Page

The photo below is of Prairie Verbena (Glandularia bipinnatifida), a common wildflower in our area, that blooms from March to October.

Please check out the main part of our website for information on other gardening eventsgardening tipsMaster 

Gardener activitieswildflowers and many other interesting pages from Sheryl's Garden Page.