16 January 2012

Being a Better Naturalist

One of my goals for this new year is to try and be a better naturalist - to better document and observe the nature around me. This blog has long been an effort at that, but I've actually never been good at keeping deeper records of the plants, birds, insects and other animals around me. A good naturalist would have documents of sitings with dates and other important information, like weather. I'm going to try and work may way to that little by little.

To that end, I just compiled some master lists of the plants, butterflies and moths, birds, and reptiles, amphibians and mammals found at the Grackle. I've certainly forgotten things, so keeping this updated will be a new challenge for me. The butterfly and moth list, in particular, is very small compared to all the species I know that we have.

On the plant front in particular, it was an interesting exercise to write them all down and especially to categorize what is native and what isn't. One of the little challenges with that is that while we consider some things "Texas natives," they aren't really native to this area (for example, desert willow is widely used in gardens in Austin, but is a native of in West Texas.)

One of my goals is to have more plants from the Blackland prairie in the garden, and making this list made me realize how few we have to date. In particular, I'd like to have more native Blackland prairie grasses. As a next step, I'm going to separate those plants out in my lists and then think about how to get more Blackland prairie plants here in the garden.


Tina said...

It's great that you're going to have more Blackland prairie plants, given your location in East Austin. And you're correct that some plants that we use as "natives" in Austin may be native to an area of Texas far away from here. Something all of us should remember and keep in mind when planting for wildlife and regional appropriateness.

The Curious Holts said...

You're gettin' all fancy. Glad someone is.

Carolyn Hestand Kennedy said...

Great idea to keep these lists. I should start some as well to help me be more mindful about such things. I'm just now really grasping the deeper importance of natives besides just drought tolerance and adaptability. I've always appreciated their aesthetic qualities, but now I understand how they connect to wildlife and the soil, etc. So very fascinating and heartening to think that one could perhaps contribute a tiny bit toward the positive in growing these plants. I applaud your well designed efforts.

Birdernaturalist said...

What a great idea to post your yard lists to Blogspot. I've been compiling plant, bug, and bird lists from my Tucson yard for 14 years, but they are squirreled away on my hard drive.

I also like the way you've added categories to you blog posts. I'll have to try to figure out how to do that.