Soon after graduating as a geography student at Texas State University, Stephen Ramirez began doing monthly bird walks. The sunrise hikes have taken place on the first Saturday of each month for the past ten years. They started along the San Marcos River, in Purgatory Creek, Prospect, Ringtail and Schulle Natural Areas and on private lands made available to the birders for the event.
The very first walk was at Aquarena Springs, where some of the original buildings for the amusement park still stood. Saturday’s hike this September was conducted at the renamed Meadows Center/Spring Lake property of the University. Thirty-five birders, some new arrivals and some regulars, participated. All ages were present and rewarded with viewing 38 different species of birds.
Colton Robbins often assisted with the walks, identifying and confirming some of the more elusive sightings. Colton also compiled and submitted a checklist of our sightings to Cornell Labs eBird registry.
The Greenbelt Alliance supported these walks by recognizing the efforts to get the public outside and experience nature firsthand. The bird walks are included in our Facebook page and are also featured in many of the LOOP articles. In 2016, Stephen and Colton were recognized as our dual Volunteer of the Year award at our annual meeting.
Getting the public out in nature has multiple benefits to health and well-being, learning about nature, developing an appreciation for what the city provides, and being social, especially in these times of a pandemic.
Written by Lance Jones, member of the Outreach Committee and former SMGA board member.