West TX iNat gathering -- April 16-19, 2021! Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area

So, gathering with fellow iNatters is one of my favorite things to do in life. I love doing a gathering each year too.

Last year was a bit smaller in the Panhandle, and this upcoming one will likely be a bit smaller too. It's important to watch the COVID numbers, especially in Texas:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COVID-19_pandemic_in_Texas
The entire state may be completely shut down to travel by next April...

In case that it isn't completely shut down, perhaps we could gather over in West TX at Elephant Mountain WMA in April 16-19! Elephant Mountain is 23,000 acres, so there is plenty of area to 'spread out.'
https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/wma/find_a_wma/list/?id=7
Here's the place on iNat: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=57408

I'm calling it a gathering rather than a bioblitz -- the data collection will happen as a by product, no doubt, but the more important aspect of this is the gathering. If you do come to gather, of course, let's mask up if you can't keep distant, especially at the black-lighting.

Alpine is the closest 'city' and there are some hotels there:
https://www.hotels.com/de1746170/hotels-alpine-texas/
No bunk house availability (and I don't want folks to gather inside) -- but camping should work for folks. I'll likely camp most of the days.

Not sure of a specific schedule or anything, but those are the dates that I'm planning on jumping over to west TX to hopefully gather with a few others! Anyways, mark the calendars if you're wanting to come!
April 16-19, 2021 at Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area!


Here are a few more details: there's no electricity at the campsite, but we do have electricity at the registration building. We also have electricity at the bunk house (although, it's going to be closed and not for us to use -- except for some outlets outside). Masks will still need to be worn if anyone goes inside any building - just out of kindness to anyone else in the facility.

COVID's still going on, so this gathering needs to acknowledge this. If you're with folks that want you to wear a mask, please wear a mask. Let's try to keep somewhat distanced from each other -- again, this is just smart to do. In the future, we'll hug like crazy, but for this gathering, let's retain some distance. The WMA is open to the public during this time too, so we may not be the only people on the 23k acres.

I know that some folks are staying at hotels in Alpine. It's not too too far from Elephant mountain, although "not too too far" in west TX is still pretty far in reality! I'll be camping each night and will smell quite ripe by the end of this trip!

Also, feel no obligation to stay at Elephant Mountain this whole time! There are SO many great spots out in West TX -- some of them are way far off ("way far off" in West TX is really far in reality!), so Big Bend, Big Bend State Park, Guadalupe Mountains, and I'm sure a whole other places are definitely worth the visit! I'll honestly be focusing my time just there at Elephant Mountain -- only a few thousand acres for us to explore. ;)

If you're able to, meet at the "Registration station" sometime in the evening on April 16th. Here's the map with the star as the spot:
https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/public/annual_public_hunting/resources/725.pdf
I'll be there by like 5 or so. Maybe we'll toss up some mothing lights and gear there.


Some asked questions....

Can we drive on the WMA?

So, this will be a special gathering, so we should be able to access many of the roads throughout the WMA. Now, there may be some spots that we won't access (big horned sheep area, perhaps).

Can we stay at bunkhouse?

Nope. We'll maybe set up some blacklights around it (and there is electricity there), but we won't stay in the bunkhouse. I don't want to put more than 1 person in a building during COVID. It'll all be outside. :)

Can my friends come?

Sure! Although, I do hope that folks that do come are at least willing/open to doing some iNatting with us all. :) I hope this is a celebration of iNat and the folks that enjoy iNatting -- although, we're a welcoming group, so if someone isn't an iNatter, hopefully he/she/they will be after this event!

Can we collect specimens?

Wellll.... I do have a permit, and specimens can be collected under my permit, but I'd really like to narrow down some physical collection of specimens. There are a few folks that have asked me about this already, and we've discussed it a bit in detail. Ideally, if specimens are collected, we want to make sure to leave a herbarium voucher or specimen voucher at the nearby university (Sul Ross).

Do I have to get a limited use permit to come?

You don't HAVE to (again, I'll be there and it'll be under my permit), buuuut I sure would love it if you do get a $12 limited use permit (or especially a hunting permit)!!! :) It does help the WMA. Even if you don't plan on hunting, it really does help the entire TPWD Wildlife program:
https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/public/annual_public_hunting/

Why aren't you calling this a bioblitz?

Again, I want this mostly to be a gathering of naturalists to engage with nature. Sure, we'll collect some data, but that will be as a side-effect of the gathering. :)

Is this responsible to have a gathering during a pandemic?
I've had a few folks ask this, and it's genuinely a good question that we all need to take to heart. We will be playing this by ear, and I don't want anyone to feel any pressure or obligation to come if they don't feel comfortable to do so. There WILL be more of these in the future, so totally no frets if you can't make this one. I plan on wearing my mask throughout this gathering, and I'll pretty strongly enforce masks especially during the blacklighting when we'll be somewhat close together. I plan on going on quite a few times just by myself so I'll be able to keep a good distance from others. There are 23,000 acres, so hopefully we'll find some ways to keep at least 6 feet apart. :)

All of this to say that this gathering may be cancelled. The state may officially close the WMA entirely, even to outside TPWD folks (permit or not!). If that is the case, yep, we'll cancel this gathering and do it again when it's open and safe.
The pandemic is something that we should treat seriously, and I don't want anyone to feel uncomfortable.

If you do have some concerns about this, please let me know (either here or on a message or whatever). We will do more of these, so if you're not able to make it, we WILL do it again. :)

Posted by sambiology sambiology, November 18, 2020 04:32

Comments

Yes, yes, yes!!!

Posted by annikaml 11 months ago (Flag)

I will try but I may be in school still and I have been struggling with the online stuff. We are going to be online with school again and I had to wind up dropping one class this semester. So I will have to play it by ear my friend. I will try my best.

Posted by galactic_bug_man 11 months ago (Flag)

Fingers crossed.

Posted by tiwane 11 months ago (Flag)

I am counting the days. My usual 2-star motel room is reserved. It's going to be another great gathering of iNat folks!

Posted by connlindajo 11 months ago (Flag)

It's on my calendar! West Texas in mid-April can be really interesting, depending on recent rainfall patterns. Hope for rain, vaccines, etc., etc.

Posted by gcwarbler 11 months ago (Flag)
Posted by annikaml 11 months ago (Flag)

YES! It's on my calendar! @connlindajo, you made me laugh!
@kayakqueen @thebark @samlutfy
@nathantaylor (if you happen to be available)

Posted by amzapp 11 months ago (Flag)

I am new to iNat this year and have enjoyed it immensely. Please add me to your list. My husband and I enjoy camping in west Texas. We look forward to meeting you all if it is finally safe to do so.

Posted by clairesorenson 11 months ago (Flag)

Putting it on my calendar.

Posted by centratex 11 months ago (Flag)

I have yet to be able to make it to one of these but I really want to, so fingers crossed for 2021.

Posted by jblinde 11 months ago (Flag)

Sam, can I assume that Elephant Mountain WMA either has a campground (perhaps undeveloped) or at least some open areas for dispersed camping (like Matador WMA)?

Posted by gcwarbler 11 months ago (Flag)

I was just thinking about this yesterday!!!!! I'm starved for some travel, and would love to make a trip out there. It's on my calendar. Thanks for organizing!!!

Posted by txstack 11 months ago (Flag)

Thanks, Sam! Alison, Jenny, and I will likely come barring some unforeseen craziness.

Posted by hydaticus 11 months ago (Flag)

Well, how fun! Hope to see everyone there ... at least from a distance. Thanks, Sam!

Posted by kathrynwells333 11 months ago (Flag)

Sounds great. I'll add it to the calendar - I've long wanted to visit this WMA! But the usual caveats... work and class schedules will/may dictate availability.

Posted by beschwar 11 months ago (Flag)

I’ll be there

Posted by catenatus 11 months ago (Flag)

Oh wow! Thanks for the invite! Putting it on my calendar, too.

Posted by baxter-slye 11 months ago (Flag)

@dbaxter we have been invited for a gathering!

Posted by baxter-slye 11 months ago (Flag)

On the calendar. Might be in LRGV that week though. Harris Hawk study.

Posted by mchlfx 11 months ago (Flag)

i might be interested if this is open to others- i would like to get to know more area naturalists and see this spot!

Posted by rmcaesar 11 months ago (Flag)

I hope we get to see the elephants!

Posted by jwn 11 months ago (Flag)

It pains me to say this, but I don't think there's any way I'll be able to make it. I look forward to seeing what everyone else posts, though! Euphorbia chaetocalyx and E. fendleri should be coming out around that time.

Posted by nathantaylor 11 months ago (Flag)

@jwn If the peyote fits!
This sounds like fun! Penciling in and hope to make it happen. Thanks, Sam!

Posted by lovebirder 11 months ago (Flag)

Would we have permission to drive while there so we can cover more territory? It looks like driving isn't allowed until May 1.

Posted by lovebirder 11 months ago (Flag)

here’s some beetles recorded from the greater Trans-Pecos region:

http://texasento.net/TransPecos.html

Mike Quinn, Austin

Posted by entomike 11 months ago (Flag)

It's on my calendar!

Posted by wildcarrot 11 months ago (Flag)

OH **** YEAH. On my calendar. Can't wait!

Posted by tadamcochran 11 months ago (Flag)

I'm so excited!! Love West Texas!

Posted by tadamcochran 11 months ago (Flag)

yeah it’s gonna rock

Posted by catenatus 11 months ago (Flag)

on my calendar, hope to make it work

Posted by pynklynx 11 months ago (Flag)

Count me in Sam! Big fun coming but mask required. Mountains of elephants!

Posted by mikef451 11 months ago (Flag)

Putting on calendar for sure. Really hope to make it. But somewhat unlikely due to couple of other trips planned next year. Just in case does anyone know if there is electricity at the camping areas? For charging batteries and such at least?

Posted by brentano 11 months ago (Flag)

on my calendar!

Posted by knightericm 11 months ago (Flag)

Sam, could you add nancynorman to your address list on this trip

Thanks, and thanks for arranging this I will plan for it

Galen

Posted by gpstewart 11 months ago (Flag)
Posted by annikaml 11 months ago (Flag)
Posted by catenatus 11 months ago (Flag)

Sound great! I drove by there on Sunday and thought, "That looks like a cool place to explore!"

Posted by bosqueaaron 11 months ago (Flag)

@tuftedparidae if you can make this event it’s a great time of year to bup it up in the Trans Pecos

Posted by catenatus 11 months ago (Flag)

Thank you for inviting me. I'll have to wait and see how the pandemic progresses this winter. I would go if my husband is vaccinated at the end of this year or before April. (We have two people in our house work in the hospital)

Posted by pufferchung 11 months ago (Flag)

@catenatus Oof I wish I could make it, but being without a car in Stillwater makes it tough. I'll try to find a way--W TX is incredible for bups and I have absolutely none of them!

Posted by tuftedparidae 11 months ago (Flag)

@catenatus Please educate me. What is a "bup"? Thanks.

Posted by connlindajo 11 months ago (Flag)

Heeeeeey everybody!

I've actually gotten a whole slew of questions about this. :) Messages, emails, texts -- lots of excitement, I take it! :) Here are some answers:

Can we drive on the WMA?

So, this will be a special gathering, so we should be able to access many of the roads throughout the WMA. Now, there may be some spots that we won't access (big horned sheep area, perhaps).

Can we stay at bunkhouse?

Nope. We'll maybe set up some blacklights around it (and there is electricity there), but we won't stay in the bunkhouse. I don't want to put more than 1 person in a building during COVID. It'll all be outside. :)

Can my friends come?

Sure! Although, I do hope that folks that do come are at least willing/open to doing some iNatting with us all. :) I hope this is a celebration of iNat and the folks that enjoy iNatting -- although, we're a welcoming group, so if someone isn't an iNatter, hopefully he/she/they will be after this event!

Can we collect specimens?

Wellll.... I do have a permit, and specimens can be collected under my permit, but I'd really like to narrow down some physical collection of specimens. There are a few folks that have asked me about this already, and we've discussed it a bit in detail. Ideally, if specimens are collected, we want to make sure to leave a herbarium voucher or specimen voucher at the nearby university (Sul Ross).

Do I have to get a limited use permit to come?

You don't HAVE to (again, I'll be there and it'll be under my permit), buuuut I sure would love it if you do get a $12 limited use permit (or especially a hunting permit)!!! :) It does help the WMA. Even if you don't plan on hunting, it really does help the entire TPWD Wildlife program:
https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/public/annual_public_hunting/

Why aren't you calling this a bioblitz?

Again, I want this mostly to be a gathering of naturalists to engage with nature. Sure, we'll collect some data, but that will be as a side-effect of the gathering. :)

Is this responsible to have a gathering during a pandemic?
I've had a few folks ask this, and it's genuinely a good question that we all need to take to heart. We will be playing this by ear, and I don't want anyone to feel any pressure or obligation to come if they don't feel comfortable to do so. There WILL be more of these in the future, so totally no frets if you can't make this one. I plan on wearing my mask throughout this gathering, and I'll pretty strongly enforce masks especially during the blacklighting when we'll be somewhat close together. I plan on going on quite a few times just by myself so I'll be able to keep a good distance from others. There are 23,000 acres, so hopefully we'll find some ways to keep at least 6 feet apart. :)

All of this to say that this gathering may be cancelled. The state may officially close the WMA entirely, even to outside TPWD folks (permit or not!). If that is the case, yep, we'll cancel this gathering and do it again when it's open and safe.
The pandemic is something that we should treat seriously, and I don't want anyone to feel uncomfortable.

If you do have some concerns about this, please let me know (either here or on a message or whatever). We will do more of these, so if you're not able to make it, we WILL do it again. :)

****I'll put these in the top journal entry too, just so that these answers are there too. :)

Posted by sambiology 11 months ago (Flag)

Following. Will definitely keep this on my radar.

Posted by rymcdaniel 11 months ago (Flag)

@connlindajo bup is short for buprestid :)

Posted by catenatus 11 months ago (Flag)

Dang, this sounds like fun. I've been wanting to make it to one of your gatherings. I'll have to see how work is shaking out in April. Would it be possible to bring our living quarters horse trailer to stay in? My husband isn't an iNatter, but he's a biologist, so would really enjoy it as well.

Posted by dcarrie 11 months ago (Flag)
Posted by connlindajo 11 months ago (Flag)

@annikaml, thanks! I will put in for vacation time now!

Posted by lulubelle 11 months ago (Flag)

Ugh... Why must YOU people target my favorite WMA's? Matador and Elephant Mountain WMA's are for my roaming only. Ha!

The campground has about a dozen covered picnic area's and a vault composting toilet style facilities structure. Not huge but should be able to accommodate a decent amount of tents at a reasonable distance. Alpine is also an easy 30 minute drive with many hotels for the non-roughing it types.

@sambiology I had forgotten that Lambing season doesn't wrap up until the end of April. So that very well could limit our wandering to the west side of the mountain in the driving tour area, which is still substantial. It'll be easier to manage expectations of all, if everyone understands that going in. Then on the very slim chance that we are allowed a bit more to roam on, we can all be pleasantly surprised.

But for those that may want to curb their wanderlust a bit, or firm up their Brewster County Records a bit more, Big Bend is an hour south, Fort Pena park south of Marathon is about an hour back to the north and east or a jaunt over to Carolyn Ohl's Christmas Mountain Oasis is about 45 minutes away. All have great opportunities for iNat-ing.

Posted by oddfitz 11 months ago (Flag)

It's on my calendar.

Posted by cameralenswrangler 11 months ago (Flag)

Great! Thanks for the invite, Sam. I should be able to make it so long as I can secure the time, lots of great things to see out there in April!

Posted by aidancampos 11 months ago (Flag)

@cmeckerman ICYMI...

Posted by entomike 11 months ago (Flag)

Thanks for the link @entomike I will definitely have to look at going. I love West Texas in Spring.

Posted by cmeckerman 11 months ago (Flag)

Putting it on the calendar!

Posted by k8thegr8 11 months ago (Flag)

I'm going to try and make 1 or 2 days and combine with a trip to the Big Bend as we have been wanting to go and have never made it yet. I suspect not best to pick the first or last day in hopes of seeing the most people. Will you be at the same places each day or will you move around? I can wait till we get closer but would love to be there for the mothing as well depending on what night we do that as well.

Posted by butterflies4fun 11 months ago (Flag)

Oh my goodness! Is this open for CTMN colleagues? I would love to do this- it's even on my birthday! :)

Posted by enoelanna 10 months ago (Flag)

I'll be there. I just recovered from COVID so I should still be immune by then.

Posted by eric_keith 10 months ago (Flag)

@enoelanna Absolutely!

Posted by bosqueaaron 10 months ago (Flag)

@paul_crump I hope you are able to join the gathering.

Posted by connlindajo 9 months ago (Flag)

Yaaah, so I'm going to back out, so as not spend my discretionary dollars in that state. It's a sociopolitical choice, cannot discuss it here.

Posted by ellen5 9 months ago (Flag)
Posted by pynklynx 9 months ago (Flag)

I'd love to go, but I already booked a vacation to Brownsville, TX, for the first week of May. It's something I've been wanting to do for years. The boss isn't going to let me off for two trips so close together. Sorry!

Posted by cosmiccat 9 months ago (Flag)

I'm so bummed out. April 16th is our last lab in Ecology and I have to be there. It is presentation day (which is awesome). I don't know how I can make it down there in time after working all day on Friday. I'm sad to hear about Greg Lasley, too. He was so helpful and nice to me and all the students who needed help.

Posted by baxter-slye 9 months ago (Flag)

that's why I'm skipping class (Dr. Pfau, you didn't read this) :)

Posted by catenatus 9 months ago (Flag)

@catenatus I am hoping Dr. Pfau will be out there with us.

Posted by connlindajo 9 months ago (Flag)

yeah me too :)

Posted by catenatus 9 months ago (Flag)

much of trans-pecos currently in “exceptional drought” https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

Posted by entomike 9 months ago (Flag)

:(

Posted by catenatus 9 months ago (Flag)

Hey all,

The gathering is one month away -- and it's still going on! I'll post another journal entry this week with some more details, but I just wanted to toss on an update to let you know it's still on! :)

At the same time, if you don't feel comfortable coming this spring (COVID concerns or anything else), no fret -- there will be more gatherings in the future! Promise. :)

Posted by sambiology 7 months ago (Flag)

@sambiology Thanks for the update, Sam!

Posted by kathrynwells333 7 months ago (Flag)

SOOOOOooooooOOOOOooOOoOOOOOOOOoooo....OOOOOooooooooOooooOooOooooooOOOOOooo excited!!

Posted by tadamcochran 7 months ago (Flag)

Is this an open invite? Can I come if I am available? :)

Posted by enoelanna 7 months ago (Flag)

Absolutely @enoelanna !

Posted by sambiology 7 months ago (Flag)

I'm looking forward to your update! Hoping to make hotel reservations this week:)

Posted by lovebirder 7 months ago (Flag)

Really starting to get excited about this trip becoming a reality! Looks like I will have my second shot 8 days before. Still mask city though. So many new species to find. Counting the days!
Will try out car camping I think.
See you all there!

Posted by mikef451 7 months ago (Flag)

Due to the heightened anti-Asian violence, I don't feel safe to travel long distance by car, also I have a velcro dog...I will have to pass this time. I am sorry.

Posted by pufferchung 7 months ago (Flag)

Hey dear friends,

So, I heard back from the biologist at the WMA. We're still on for the gathering. I sure do hope that folks can make it, but if you're not able to make it this time, no worries -- I promise we will have more gatherings in the future.

Here are a few more details: there's no electricity at the campsite, but we do have electricity at the registration building. We also have electricity at the bunk house (although, it's going to be closed and not for us to use -- except for some outlets outside). Masks will still need to be worn if anyone goes inside any building - just out of kindness to anyone else in the facility.

COVID's still going on, so this gathering needs to acknowledge this. If you're with folks that want you to wear a mask, please wear a mask. Let's try to keep somewhat distanced from each other -- again, this is just smart to do. In the future, we'll hug like crazy, but for this gathering, let's retain some distance. The WMA is open to the public during this time too, so we may not be the only people on the 23k acres.

I know that some folks are staying at hotels in Alpine. It's not too too far from Elephant mountain, although "not too too far" in west TX is still pretty far in reality! I'll be camping each night and will smell quite ripe by the end of this trip!

Also, feel no obligation to stay at Elephant Mountain this whole time! There are SO many great spots out in West TX -- some of them are way far off ("way far off" in West TX is really far in reality!), so Big Bend, Big Bend State Park, Guadalupe Mountains, and I'm sure a whole lot of other places are definitely worth the visit! I'll honestly be focusing my time just there at Elephant Mountain -- only a few thousand acres for us to explore. ;) If you're headed to other places and want some company, let others know! Perhaps they'll come with.

If you're able to, meet at the "Registration station" sometime in the evening on April 16th. Here's the map with the star as the spot:
https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/public/annual_public_hunting/resources/725.pdf
I'll be there by like 5 or so. Maybe we'll toss up some mothing lights and gear there.

I've heard from several folks that won't be able to make it, and again, we'll miss you big time, but please know that we'll gather again soon!!! :)

Just so you have it, here are my two cells:
817 771 8793
214 215 5605
Save them and toss me a text whenever, even if you're not coming. You all are my friends, like it or not. ;)

Posted by sambiology 7 months ago (Flag)

Saweet! I'm planning on being there and I'm bringing a friend! See everyone soon!

Posted by lovebirder 7 months ago (Flag)

@pufferchung I am very sorry that you are going through this and David and I talked last night about picking you up and taking you with us, Velcro dog and all. Your Velcro dog could meet mine:)). Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll have the energy after lab on the 16th to make the trip. But, any other time, and hopefully at the next gathering, we hope to help you be comfortable. We stand with you.

Also, thanks for the update, Sam. Can we start planning the next one, cause I’m super bummed out about missing this one. Lol.

Posted by baxter-slye 7 months ago (Flag)
Posted by amzapp 7 months ago (Flag)

I'll try to arrive by 7 on Friday. Excited!

Posted by k8thegr8 7 months ago (Flag)

It looks like I will be able to go but only through Sunday. It will be great to see everyone.

Posted by cmeckerman 7 months ago (Flag)

Looking forward to seeing old faces and new!

Posted by connlindajo 7 months ago (Flag)

@bruceneville Perhaps you can join us. We always have great times at iNat gatherings.

Posted by connlindajo 7 months ago (Flag)

@connlindajo Maybe after I get my second vaccine this Saturday.

Posted by bruceneville 7 months ago (Flag)

@alekzandr27 @txjakeb @virginia_deden @seacoal44 In case any of you were interested.

Posted by austinrkelly 7 months ago (Flag)

@sambiology Is there room for @mattsmith1972 and myself to attend this event. We are very interested in the experience.

Posted by kayakqueen 7 months ago (Flag)

All are welcome! Just FYI -- no real schedule here, except for the mothing/black lighting in the evening. :)

Posted by sambiology 7 months ago (Flag)

@sambiology Will there be a covered place to gather and get out of the sun (like with picnic tables or something)? I see buildings on the map, but not sure what's what. I'm bringing my small tent, but would like to know there is a place to get out of the sun, eat, etc. I was thinking of buying an awning of some kind if not.

Posted by tadamcochran 7 months ago (Flag)

@tadamcochran there are picnic tables with awning style covers similar to the ones at Matador WMA.

Posted by oddfitz 7 months ago (Flag)

@oddfitz Thanks, Todd!

Posted by tadamcochran 7 months ago (Flag)
Posted by tadamcochran 7 months ago (Flag)

@oddfitz How is the cell reception out there. Is there any?

Posted by tadamcochran 7 months ago (Flag)

Hi Sam (and everyone),

As much as I want to be there, It is looking unlikely that I will make this trip. If I don't, I can at least look forward to seeing all and helping ID at least a few of the amazing observations I know will come out of the trip.

Benjamin

Posted by beschwar 7 months ago (Flag)

Cell coverage? Ha!..... You can sometimes get a signal in camp and in certain areas on the north end of the WMA. Beyond that, the headquarters has the basic TPWD WIFI.

Posted by oddfitz 7 months ago (Flag)

Thanks! Just wanted to be able to get in touch with people that want to know that I'm still alive. :)

Posted by tadamcochran 7 months ago (Flag)
Posted by baxter-slye 7 months ago (Flag)

I just saw this and won’t be able to attend, but would have loved to. Are you planning any other get togethers this year? I’ll be fully vaccinated this week and looking forward to some more outings.

Posted by zdufran 7 months ago (Flag)

I unfortunately won't make this one :( but ya'll better find some spiders out there for me! I can't wait to see you all at the next one!

Posted by wildcarrot 7 months ago (Flag)

I be heading out Thursday via Kerrville looking for Swamp Rabbit and that night South Llano River State park. Should be at Elephant Mountain early afternoon Friday. Bringing four cameras Sam. Hopefully there is not too much public attendance in the WMA. Have locks will Hide!
Leaving Monday morning for San Angelo State Park.

Safe travels all, see you there!

Posted by mikef451 7 months ago (Flag)

I’m planning on shirking all previous commitments and responsibilities so I’ll probably see you there sometime after five on friday Sam... unless I see something shiny on the way!

Posted by catenatus 7 months ago (Flag)

I'm still planning on coming. Will do a pit stop at Sandia Wetlands on the way down, so hope to arrive around 5-6pm on Friday. Will camp at the WMA except for one night when I will stay at a hotel in Alpine to clean up, recharge all the batteries, and connect with my students. So excited about exploring this part of Brewster County, and to meet up with familiar and new fellow iNatters.

Posted by annikaml 7 months ago (Flag)
Posted by lovebirder 6 months ago (Flag)

Looking forward to the bio gathering! I plan to mostly camp at the Elephant. Since iNat folks are a curious lot, there should be some good people watching. Drive safely everyone.

Posted by centratex 6 months ago (Flag)

Sadly, I won't be able to make this one. Looking forward to the next one whenever that ends up being.

Posted by rymcdaniel 6 months ago (Flag)

I booked a place in Alpine and hope to be at Elephant Mountain WMA sometime late Friday morning. Looking forward to meeting some people and a west TX nature outing!

Posted by jcochran706 6 months ago (Flag)

Hoping to be there around 7pm on Friday night. I will attempt to camp unless I wuss out. Will we be mothing near the buildings there on Friday? Can't wait to see ya'll!

Posted by k8thegr8 6 months ago (Flag)

I will be there on Saturday at some point and then heading on to Big Bend area (my first time). Will there be a place to meet on Saturday or Saturday night for mothing? Otherwise I will text on Saturday morning to figure out the plan. I do hope to see everyone.

Posted by butterflies4fun 6 months ago (Flag)

Hey all!

So, bring your jackets!!! Looks like the weather will be a bit on the chilly side. We may even see a few cold showers too. We'll see what critters show up for the black-lighting. I'm bringing some sherman/live mammal traps, so hopefully we can all get a close-up look at a kangaroo rat or two. I'm still planning on camping, although I may end up staying at a hotel on Sunday evening there in Alpine.

On Friday night, we'll moth really close to the entrance of the WMA. On this map, close to where the star is. https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/public/annual_public_hunting/resources/725.pdf I don't yet know where we'll be mothing on Saturday or Sunday -- it will be somewhere somewhat close-ish to roads on the WMA though, I'm hoping! They should be the only lights out there. Please make sure to save my cell: 214 215 5605 and 817 771 8793

Also -- super important -- if you're not able to make this one, please don't fret. I PROMISE there will be other gatherings in the near future!

Posted by sambiology 6 months ago (Flag)

Jenny has become more difficult to travel long distances with over the past few months, so we're going to skip this one. Looking forward to seeing folks on future trips, though!

Posted by hydaticus 6 months ago (Flag)

@alisonnorthup Bummer! I will get to meet you some day... @rymcdaniel @wildcarrot @beschwar Hope to see you next time.

Posted by connlindajo 6 months ago (Flag)

@connlindajo and @sambiology, it is a bummer! Hoping everyone has a great time! Jenny's already picking up bugs, grabbing flowers, and pointing out cacti, so she seems to be following in her parents' footsteps!

Posted by alisonnorthup 6 months ago (Flag)

@sambiology I will not be able to make this outing Hopefull the next one

Posted by gpstewart 6 months ago (Flag)

Y'all are going to have SO much fun!!! I'm disappointed I can't make it. I love my new puppy, but at 11 weeks he is more of a handful than I bargained for. Enjoy!!!

Posted by txstack 6 months ago (Flag)

As much as it is killing me to say it, I won't be making this one. I am sure y'all will have an amazing time and find the rarest never before seen in Texas things ever. So you're welcome. Lol.

Posted by brentano 6 months ago (Flag)

I'll be home grading exams :(
If you are allowed access, be sure to explore the north-facing slopes adjacent to the road that leads up to the top. May find some cool plants there that wouldn't be seen in other places. Here: https://www.google.com/maps/@30.0410703,-103.5376534,1865m/data=!3m1!1e3

Posted by pfau_tarleton 6 months ago (Flag)

I’m out too now. sick kid to tend to. hope you all do well!

Posted by catenatus 6 months ago (Flag)

First comment from the field: Despite the "Exceptional Drought" in the region, there was quite a bit of interesting stuff to see including many rare plants on the limestone Del Norte range on the east side of the WMA, and a cute kangaroo rat trapped by @sambiology in the campground. Mothing (Friday night only) was about as sparse as you might expect. That effort now sets the "low bar" for future events to be measured against! There's nowhere to go but up now!

Posted by gcwarbler 6 months ago (Flag)

Despite the cold, the wind, the dust, the unbelievable drought conditions, et al, I had a great experience! Saw several new-to-me species and enjoyed seeing the iNat folks that were able to make it. Those who were were not able to be there were missed (as well as those who were there and our paths did not cross). Looking forward to the next gathering. Thanks, Sam and Elizabeth, for arranging and hosting us.

Posted by connlindajo 6 months ago (Flag)

BTW. @oddfitz, among the folks missed was YOU!

Posted by connlindajo 6 months ago (Flag)

Just got home after the looooong drive (of course, I did make a few stops on the way!).

Had a GREAT time, despite the landscape being catastrophically dry, mighty cold and windy, and a bit of restriction to the mountain... As Chuck said, "Other than that, the conditions were perfect!" Although, it did rain nicely this morning (Monday) as my wet tent and muddy shoes can verify... We brought the rain, I suppose.

Important note -- if you weren't able to make it, please don't fret. We'll have another gathering -- likely this fall! Stay tuned for locations. And of course, one again this next spring (hopefully after a bit more rain wherever we go). As Linda Jo mentioned, if you weren't there, we missed you!

Russell is having a gathering at Timberlake soon too. Chime in there if you might be able to make it:
https://www.inaturalist.org/journal/pfau_tarleton/48821-may-bioblitz-timberlake-field-station

Here are the folks that were able to make the trek to dry out their skin a bit (the cracks in my fingers STILL have dust!):
@austinrkelly @jcochran706 @annikaml @connlindajo @gcwarbler @tadamcochran @mikef451 @eric_keith @knightericm @pynklynx @cmeckerman @butterflies4fun @centratex @k8thegr8 @amzapp @jwn @elizrose @bosqueaaron @lovebirder @charley
As Russell mentioned, the ID page is up on the comments, and the observations are pretty fun to look through, even if you aren't able to ID them: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=57408

Super thankful for this community. :) Hope to see all again super soon!

Posted by sambiology 6 months ago (Flag)

@sambiology Sorry I couldn't come. May I suggest the Neches River NWR for fall? It's new and doesn't have many observations, and it's close enough for me to come. ;p

Posted by cosmiccat 6 months ago (Flag)

I have a few pics (not observations) to share with the group. I imagine others might. Any suggestions on how we might do that?

Posted by centratex 6 months ago (Flag)

Sounds like you made the most of it! Glad you had fun. Kinda glad we didn't try to bring the baby into the windy cold.

Posted by alisonnorthup 6 months ago (Flag)

I've been going through and identifying some of the plant observations from the trip (to see all the cool plants I missed out on). Here's a link for those who are interested: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/identify?place_id=79259&d1=2021-04-16&user_id=sambiology%2Caustinrkelly%2Cjcochran706%2Cannikaml%2Cconnlindajo%2Cgcwarbler%2Ctadamcochran%2Cmikef451%2Ceric_keith%2Cknightericm%2Cpynklynx%2Ccmeckerman%2Cbutterflies4fun%2Ccentratex%2Ck8thegr8%2Camzapp%2Cjwn%2Celizrose%2Cbosqueaaron%2Clovebirder%2Ccharley&d2=2021-04-19
I have it set to Trans-Pecos, but the location can be changed to anything.

Posted by nathantaylor 6 months ago (Flag)

Here's an invitation for folks to attend the May Bioblitz @ Timberlake Biological Field Station in southern Mills Co. TX (on the Colorado River) May 15-16:
https://www.inaturalist.org/journal/pfau_tarleton/48821

[oops: just realized that Sam already posted the link!]

Posted by pfau_tarleton 6 months ago (Flag)

Thanks for a great time at Elephant Mountain WMA, all! I very much enjoyed meeting natural world enthusiasts and learning about your particular interests. That and the hospitality of Sam and Elizabeth were the best things of the trip. Being surrounded by Scott's Orioles was third and mothing came in a distant fourth.

P.S. Please don't hate me for my bad plant pics and inaccurate IDs on those plants, which have nothing to do with the photo quality, sadly...

Posted by jcochran706 6 months ago (Flag)

Thanks Sam and Elizabeth for the get together and the food! I enjoyed four of those dogs! Despite the, at times painful cold wind and dust, it was still a great time. I found the mountain very enduring even though we were forbid to enter. So glad I finally got to hear the Elf Owl on my last night which was a fitting end along with the rain during the night and morning. Loved seeing old friends and meeting new ones. It will take me a day or two to get everything posted.

Looking forward to this Fall gathering!

Posted by mikef451 6 months ago (Flag)

Thank you from me too to Sam and Elizabeth especially, but also to all of you that always make these gatherings so much fun. I entirely enjoyed the mountain and my time there. I saw so many new species and took way too many pictures, it will take a while to get them all uploaded.

Posted by annikaml 6 months ago (Flag)

@austinrkelly @connlindajo @bosqueaaron @jcochran706 @sambiology @annikaml @amzapp @pynklynx @knightericm @mikef451 @gcwarbler @k8thegr8 @lovebirder @tadamcochran @charley @centratex @jwn @butterflies4fun

I meant to post earlier about how I loved seeing everyone at Elephant Mountain and what a great time I had but I also was thinking about how to look at the trip analytically and so I was going to wait until I had something to share.

I think that these iNaturalist gatherings that Sam has put together and others that are planned (e.g. Timberlake) are not only important for the community but also important to citizen science and science in general. I think this can be lost and going to a place like Elephant Mountain can have a really big impact because of the general lack of observations in some of these out-of-the-way places.

What I tried to do is take an analytical approach to the data to visualize the impact that the weekend had on the number of observations made and species identified. I put this short analysis on a website because it was going to be too much to try and format it in the iNat journal format.

For those of you interested in taking a look at it you can find the information here: https://sites.google.com/austincc.edu/elephantmountainwma/home

Again, I would like to thank Sam for creating the event and a big thank you for all of you who came because it was really great to see some of you again and to meet others that I had not met before and put your face to the username that I see frequently. I look forward to the next trip!

Posted by cmeckerman 5 months ago (Flag)

This. Is. Amazing. I love that you did this, and thank you for sharing it with us. Imagine the results if we had access to the full scope of the WMA.

Posted by amzapp 5 months ago (Flag)

Wowie wow! I'll selfishly say that the main reason that I do these gatherings is just to hang out with my fellow naturalists. :) The data collection is most definitely secondary in my mind -- buuuut, it is pretty cool just how many different species and observations that we can accumulate! Thanks for putting together in a visually pleasing way, Curtis!

And all, I'm working on a fall gathering in east TX -- Neches River wildlife refuge (https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Neches_River/) along with Gus Engeling and Richland Creek WMA's. :) Stay tuned for details!!!

Posted by sambiology 5 months ago (Flag)

@cmeckerman, How timely is this! I am literally putting the final touches on a review draft of the article I mentioned to you about "Distributional biases in observations: An introductory exploration of Texas Lepidoptera on iNaturalist.org" (with @sambiology) and I needed a reference for the effects of bioblitzes and such events! Perfect!

Posted by gcwarbler 5 months ago (Flag)

This is so neat, @cmeckerman, to see that I'm not just having fun when out on bioblitzes, the data collected is measurable and useful. Thank you for putting the information together.

Posted by annikaml 5 months ago (Flag)

Nice work Curtis! Very interesting. Thank you!

Posted by jwn 5 months ago (Flag)

That is an awesome data presentation!!

Posted by baxter-slye 5 months ago (Flag)

Wow! Most impressive data review Curtis! Thank you. I'm looking forward to the next gathering already!

Posted by mikef451 5 months ago (Flag)

Thanks, Curtis! Love the presentation! Looking forward to the fall gathering, Sam!

Posted by lovebirder 5 months ago (Flag)

Thanks for Sharing.. Great job Curtis...

Posted by butterflies4fun 5 months ago (Flag)

Just FYI -- a bioblitz at Timberlake in mid June:
https://www.inaturalist.org/posts/52212-june-bioblitz-timberlake-field-station

Posted by sambiology 5 months ago (Flag)

Hey all,

I'm really shooting for October 1 - 3. Hopefully Gus Engeling WMA, Richland Creek WMA, and Neches River National Wildlife Refuge. :)

October 1 - 3!!!! Mark those calendars. :)

Posted by sambiology 3 months ago (Flag)

Thanks for the heads up, Sam!

Posted by lovebirder 3 months ago (Flag)

Hooray!!! Calendar is marked!

Posted by connlindajo 3 months ago (Flag)

It's in my calendar, too! Yay!

Posted by annikaml 3 months ago (Flag)

Thanks Sam! Planning on being there!

Posted by mikef451 3 months ago (Flag)

That's the same weekend as the Oklahoma BioBlitz at Roman Nose State Park... :(

Posted by zdufran 3 months ago (Flag)

I’ve always wanted to blacklight there but have only been in Feb … count me in

Posted by catenatus 3 months ago (Flag)

Hmm, not too far from home, I've always wanted to go here, and it's right at the beginning of the new fiscal year so work shouldn't be a problem.

Posted by jblinde 3 months ago (Flag)

Dates are saved :)

Posted by amzapp 3 months ago (Flag)

Got the dates added in my calendar. Thanks Sam!

Posted by baxter-slye 3 months ago (Flag)

@mammelton50 the dates for this event (Neches River, Gus Engeling WMA, Richland Creek WMA) have been posted. Read Sam's post ten posts above this.

Posted by mikef451 3 months ago (Flag)

@wwrauscher @jasonpike1980 Sam is doing a bioblitz in our area in October!

Posted by cosmiccat 3 months ago (Flag)

Yay!!! I think I could make it!!! Thank you Sam!!

Posted by txstack 3 months ago (Flag)

Robby and Jenny and I will try to make it to at least one day!

Posted by alisonnorthup 3 months ago (Flag)

Boooo! I'll be in Indiana.

Posted by eric_keith 3 months ago (Flag)

Requested time off!

Posted by lulubelle 3 months ago (Flag)

I should be there. @eric_keith there are no Rare Plants of Texas in Indiana fyi ;) hope your plans change

Posted by knightericm 3 months ago (Flag)

It is on my calendar!! :D

Posted by wildcarrot 3 months ago (Flag)

Unfortunately I have a delayed funeral for my father in law that weekend. You guys have fun and I'll look forward to seeing what you find.

Posted by butterflies4fun 3 months ago (Flag)

There's a decent chance I can make it, but won't know until closer to the date. Should be nice camping weather by then. :-)

Posted by beschwar 3 months ago (Flag)

Sam, have you decided which parks you'll be at on which days?

Posted by cosmiccat 3 months ago (Flag)

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