All posts by Upper Highland Lakes Nature Center

Digging History

If you never thought you’d spend a day looking for flakes, you’ll get a whole new appreciation for that term after spending a day in the field with folks from the Llano Uplift Archeological Society (LUAS).  On a beautiful February morning, we hiked up the peak at Reveille Peak Ranch, and found history under a rock overhang.

Digging carefully. (Courtesy of Paula Richards)
Digging carefully.
(Courtesy of Paula Richards)

Noting the site location on their GPS, the team dug holes, carefully measuring the dig levels as they went.  They quickly uncovered debitage, small flakes of stone, which indicated that someone had inhabited this area and had made tools at this location.  The tools might have been scrapers used to skin animals or points for projectile devices.   This technique is called knapping and flakes are a bi-product of that process.  So, finding flakes is a good thing!

Sifting for a bit of history. (Courtesy Paula Richards)
Sifting for a bit of history.
(Courtesy Paula Richards)

We also found pock-marked chips that gave evidence of stones that had been heated to make the shaping easier.  It was hard to drag the scientists away. Their hard work was rewarded with a number of interesting artifacts that will be showcased in the new Nature Center building scheduled to be completed later this year.

Tiny but important find! (Courtesy of Paula Richards)
Tiny but important find!
(Courtesy of Paula Richards)

To give you an idea of how eagle-eyed and diligent these scientists are, we’ll close today’s post with a photo of a tiny projectile point, a Perdiz point (called a bird point ).  These were in use 700 to 800 years ago or younger to 300 years ago (about the time the Spanish were coming through).   We also found pieces of Nolan points (Atl Atl  point) which were in use 4500 years ago (about the time the pyramids were being built).  What an amazing day!

New homes ready for our Bluebird friends.

Checking out the nesting options. (Courtesy of Texas Bluebird Society)
Checking out the nesting options.
(Courtesy of Texas Bluebird Society)

Several members of the Nature Center volunteers worked in the cold and drizzle on the morning of February 2nd to insure that at our bluebird friends would find a warm welcome. If you’re hiking the trails, you’ll see 5 new houses installed. Notice that they are placed in open areas with easy access for the bluebirds, are spaced far apart as the males are territorial, and with baffles installed on the poles to prevent predators such as snakes, racoons and others from gaining access to the nests. As spring approaches, keep an eye out for the males, who will stake out their claim on a nesting box, and then try to attract their mates with their courting behavior of flapping their wings and serenading their potential partners.

Installing the boxes at the Nature Center. (Courtesy of Phil Wyde)
Installing the boxes at the Nature Center.
(Courtesy of Phil Wyde)

For your awareness, National Nest Box Week (NNBW) runs from 14th February to 21st February.

For more information on bluebirds and how to attract them to your backyard, check out the Texas Bluebird Society.

A busy start to 2014

A beautiful day at the center. (Courtesy of Paula Richards)
A beautiful day at the center.
(Courtesy of Paula Richards)

January and February are busy months here at the Nature Center!  Top items on our list include installing new blue bird boxes, beginning the work on the new bird blinds and preparing for an upcoming April visit from Brownies from across central Texas eager to work on their bug (aka entomology) and hiking badges.  Additionally, folks have begun working on other topics such as mammal habitats,  wildflowers, and trees in preparation for a visit from the Girl Scouts in May.

Stay tuned as we build out additional resource kits for areas such as reptiles,  vermiculture (worms), anglers, geology, ecology, bats, bees and even geo-caching.   In addition to leveraging the Master Naturalist community, we will be collaborating directly with other organizations such as the Master Gardeners, Native Plant Society, Birds and Wildflower Society, and the Friends of the Fish Hatchery to bring these and other topics to visitors.

As always, the Texas weather will have a hand in shaping our efforts.  Let us know if you’d like to help or if you have groups that you think would enjoy an outing at the Center.