Sunday, June 18, 2017


St Edward’s students learn plant identification skills and the value of native prairies while conducting the annual Commons Ford Prairie vegetation survey

Dr. Amy Concilio of St. Edward’s University has joined the Commons Ford team to take the lead on vegetation surveys.  With a group of  eight undergraduate students and two Master’s students, she spent a week in early May conducting the annual vegetation surveys along nine transects established in 2011.  Most of the undergraduate students had no previous experience identifying plants, so they spent a few days learning about what characteristics are important to make note of when identifying grasses and wildflowers, how to use a dichotomous key, and how to sample vegetation using the transect method. 



It was a fantastic opportunity for them to get hand’s-on experience in ecological field sampling, and several of the students are now considering doing capstone research projects at the site. Most of the students had never been to Commons Ford and were blown away by many different grasses and wildflowers could be found in a native Texas prairie!  The students also had the opportunity to hear from Ed Fair about the history of the site and project. They are inspired and excited to share their new knowledge with friends and family, and hopefully contribute to conservation and restoration efforts of native Texas ecosystems!




Travis Audubon and the Commons Ford Prairie Committee thank Dr. Concilio and her students for completing the survey. We hope the students will continue to visit CFP and become avid birders, plant ecologists, or leaders in conservation for native prairies--or all three!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Travis Audubon Introduction to Birds and Birding class at Commons Ford
March 11 and 12, 2017

Shelia Hargis led the TA Introduction to Birds and Birding Class at Commons Ford Prairie on Saturday and Sunday, March 11th and 12th. Though the weather was less than ideal (cool and raining on Sunday), the group never complained and endured the entire 3+ hour class each day. There were nine students.     

Bird lists from each day follow, along with a photo.

Eastern Bluebird. Photo by Shelia Hargis on March 11.

Saturday's list:
Mallard (Domestic type)
Wild Turkey
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Turkey Vulture
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
30  White-winged Dove
Mourning Dove
Belted Kingfisher
Golden-fronted Woodpecker
Ladder-backed Woodpecker
American Kestrel
Eastern Phoebe
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
2   Loggerhead Shrike
White-eyed Vireo
American Crow
Purple Martin
10  Barn Swallow
25  Cliff/Cave Swallow
6  Carolina Chickadee
7  Tufted x Black-crested Titmouse
Carolina Wren
Bewick's Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
3   Eastern Bluebird
14   American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
22  Cedar Waxwing
Northern Parula
20   Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
27  Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
4   Western/Eastern Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
13  House Finch
3   Lesser Goldfinch
American Goldfinch
                                                  
Sunday's list:
Great Blue Heron
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Sharp-shinned/Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Killdeer
30  White-winged Dove
Mourning Dove
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
American Kestrel
Eastern Phoebe
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Loggerhead Shrike
White-eyed Vireo
American Crow
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted x Black-crested Titmouse (hybrid)
Canyon Wren
Carolina Wren
Bewick's Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
40  Cedar Waxwing
Northern Parula
14  Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1   Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's)
10  Chipping Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
1   Rufus-crowned Sparrow
13  Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
100  Common Grackle (Bronzed)
House Finch


Sunday, February 12, 2017

February 4, 2017 Field Trip Summary
 
In spite of the poor weather, 15 people participated in the February 2017 Travis Audubon Monthly field trip at Commons Ford.  The temperatures stayed in the 50s throughout the morning and otherwise the weather alternated between thick fog, to heavy sprinkles to mist.  Needless to say this affected the number of bird species seen. 

Only 36 species were identified by sight or vocalization.  We would expect to get at least 50 species in February.  Highlights included flocks of American Robin and good looks at both Red-bellied and Golden-fronted Woodpecker.  We only had six sparrow species but those included Fox and Harris’s as well as a total of nine Song.  At least five Song Sparrow were out in the open perched together pecking for seed on the ground.  We were also able to see the continuing Sedge Wren(s?) in the prairie.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Commons Ford Prairie is now accepting requests for proposals to conduct vegetation surveys from individuals or groups interested in the study of native prairies, their restoration, and the techniques used to survey vegetation in support of restoration efforts. These entities or individuals must have the capacity to conduct vegetation surveys and record data in May, 2017.

Link to RFP:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1VRyoWyabOtZTdH288bTh7wfmdgU1mquopdQbeSC_Oeo/edit?usp=sharing

For more information, please email:
Shannon Harris: shannon.harris@utexas.edu