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CDRI Desert NewsFlash 
April 2023
Claret cup cactus, Echinocereus coccineus, image by Alan Wintz. 
Lauren Esposito to Headline as the Conant Distinguished Guest Lecturer-April 13, 2023

Please join us for the Roger Conant Distinguished Guest Lecturer Program on Thursday, April 13, 2023. This season's guest lecturer is Dr. Lauren Esposito. 
The lecture will be held at the Crowley Theater in Marfa, Texas, at 7:00 p.m., with doors open at 6:30. 
Lauren is Assistant Curator and holds the Schlinger Chair of Arachnology at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, California. Her field of study is arachnids and, specifically, scorpions. Although most people cringe at the mention of scorpions, Lauren has a way of captivating her audience with fascinating information about a subject she is passionate about. You won't want to miss it! 

We're looking forward to seeing you at

The Roger Conant
Distinguished Guest Lecturer Program

Dr. Lauren Esposito
Thursday, April 13, 2023
at the Crowley Theater, Marfa, TX
7:00 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.)
Free admission.
Light appetizers and beverages will be served after the program.
www.cdri.org         432-364-2499

Celebrate Earth Day - Saturday, April 22
What better way to celebrate nature than to invite all of you to
the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center? 
Saturday, April 22
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Admission is free! 
Please check in at the Powell Visitor Center Information Desk
for a map and orientation. 
And please remember to be kind to your Earth. 
April is a great month to visit the Bird Blind

Spring is one of the best seasons to spend time at CDRI’s Bird Blind. The Bird Blind was completed six years ago in 2017 and has become such a popular destination that it makes us wonder how we ever got by without it.
The idea for a bird blind began back in 2015. That was when volunteer and full-time RVer, Ralph Reed, suggested we build a bird blind. An avid birder, Ralph visited his favorite stops throughout Texas, always returning to CDRI to tell us about what we were missing out on. Finally, by late 2016, Ralph had convinced CDRI leadership that we had to build a bird blind.
After doing our research, which included Ralph sharing photos of some of his favorite Texas state park bird blinds, and a visit to the Davis Mountains State Park to get a first-hand look at their bird blinds, we were ready to put the plan into motion.
The site, adjacent to the Botanical Gardens, was chosen because of its access to a water source.  Curiously, the site, with its large rock outcroppings, had been used as part of the Botanical Gardens in its early days.
Built by CDRI’s Maintenance Manager, Gina Livingston, and Executive Director, Rick Herrman, the Bird Blind was opened to the public on April 1, 2017. 
Features at the Bird Blind include:
A viewing window that faces Southwest, so the morning sun doesn’t “blind” the viewers. The window is also tilted to reduce the chance of birds making contact in pursuit of their reflective images.
A nearly 30 ft.-long water feature powered by a solar pump is designed to provide our visiting birds with gently moving water and a cooling bath and drink.
Inside the blind, a large bench provides ample seating, and a carpeted floor reduces sound. It’s also wheelchair accessible from the Pavilion parking lot.  
An entrance on either side – one from a path adjacent to the Botanical Gardens (outside the fence line) and the other from the Pavilion parking lot provides easy access.
A cash box awaits donations to help offset the cost of bird seed (including thistle, black-oil sunflower seeds, suet, peanut butter, oranges, and sugar for Hummingbird nectar).
The interior walls show off photo collages created by Carol DiQuilio of frequently seen birds. We reproduced the collages on metal last year. There is also a small ledge to place a notepad for documenting observations, plus a three-ring binder waiting for you to record what you saw, along with the date and time, for birders who arrive after you.
And 32 ft. of bird “screens” (16ft.  on each side leading into each side’s entrance) with various cutouts for cameras and binoculars protect the birds from being startled by sudden sounds and movement.
Early morning feeding. Photo by Mary Beadleston. 
All visitors must first stop and register at the Powell Visitor Center before proceeding to the blind.
We were thrilled to introduce the Bird Blind seven years ago and are equally delighted seven years later to invite you to experience early spring at the Bird Blind. It’s an educational experience amid the calming sensation of the moving water, chirping birds, and stunning vistas. 
Black-Chinned Hummingbird, Scott's Oriole, and Chipping Sparrow at the Bird Blind. Photos by Alan Wintz, April 2022. 
White-Winged Dove and Green-Tailed Towhee at the Bird Blind. Photos by Alan Wintz, April 2022. 
The Central Texas Trail Tamers returned to CDRI
The first week of March saw the return of five of the Central Texas Trail Tamers.  This time they worked on the steep trail that leads to the bottom of the Modesta Canyon. Heavy machinery and skilled trail cutting were required for the work, so they brought five of their best. Trail Tamers working on the trail were Kevin Deiters, Charlie Grant, Cody Glover, Jim Pfluger, and Mark Schneider. 
The team moved boulders, cut steps into the rock, and rerouted parts of the trail to go around a tree that fell across the trail last November after a 5.3 earthquake was recorded in the region.
 A team of dedicated CDRI volunteers also worked on the trail throughout the week. They cleared the switchback path that leads out of the canyon and also helped to create safer, more defined steps that lead to Clayton's Overlook. CDRI Volunteers were Warren Shaul, Greg Brock, Devin Brock, Thomas Adams, Cynthia Turner, Krystl Campos, Stephen Cook, and Glen Eisen.
While trail building and trail maintenance is intended to make trails safer and more manageable, the art of trail building is to give the appearance of the trail having occurred fairly naturally with steps and cuts worked into the terrain. We hope you enjoy your next hike to Modesta Canyon!
The above photo is by Mark Schneider. 
Earth Day, April 22

Please join us on Saturday, April 22
to celebrate Earth Day!
Free admission
Free lemonade, ice cream sandwiches,
and popsicles!
Garden Notes
by Faith Hille Dishron 
In this month’s garden notes, I’ll tell the story of March 2023, mostly through photos. The month of March was a weird one, going from 80 degrees and sunny to 25 degrees and snowing. The poor garden didn’t know what was happening. The Mexican redbuds (Cercis canadensis) flowered before the snowstorm and got fairly damaged as a result. Cactus wrens had their nests ready for this year’s brood in the Faxon yuccas and tree chollas. 
The Erigeron divergens (Desert fleabane) began flowering in late February. The warm days encouraged much of the garden to green up earlier than usual. Even the scaly critters were coming out to sun themselves like this Patch-nosed snake (Salvadora grahamiae).  

Then, on March 18, CDRI received three inches of snow. Alpine and Marfa received 5-7 inches. Luckily, the next day it warmed up, allowing the snow to melt and giving the plants some much-needed moisture.
Above left: Salvia gregii (Autumn sage); Center: Phlox mesoleuca (Threadleaf phlox or white-eye phlox); Above right: Agave parryi (Parry's agave).     
With the extra moisture, the garden has been exploding with life even after that wee frost. The garden has many wildflowers blooming or will bloom soon.
Above left: Sphaeralcea ambigua (Desert globemallow); Oenothera primiveris (desert primrose); Above right: Berlandiera lyrata (chocolate daisy).
In the cactus greenhouse, we have been enjoying some amazing blooms. I was overjoyed to see that not one but all four of the Echinocactus texensis (horse crippler cactus) are blooming. 

Come enjoy our beautiful flowers in the garden or take a hike to experience the untamed beauty of the Chihuahuan Desert.  
Above left: Echinocereus pentalophus; Center: Echinocactus texensis; Above right: Mammillaria heyderi.  Photos for this story are by Faith Hille Dishron. 
Memorial for Blaine Hall
The family of Blaine Hall will get together for a Celebration of Life on Saturday, April 29, at 5:00 p.m. They are inviting friends who wish to join in a remembrance of Blaine for dinner and a tribute to be held at the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center. Reservations must be made in advance. Please email lgordon@cdri.org if you are planning to attend. Thank you!  
Coming in April
      Adopt-a-Highway Cleanup - Volunteer Opportunity    April  5 
      Conant Guest Lecturer Program - Free admission      April 13
      Earth Day - Community Day - Free admission          April 22
      Blaine Hall Memorial - Reservations required            April 29

Please contact lgordon@cdri.org for additional information. 
Visiting Groups & Events
The CDRI Cactus Sale
March 13, 2023 
Bugs, Bugs, Bugs, Day!
March 30, 2023
Students in 2nd and 3rd grades attended CDRI's educational program, Bugs, Bugs, Bugs, Day. School Districts in attendance were Fort Davis, Valentine, Marfa, and Alpine.  
Full Moon Hike
March 7, 2023
Above, left: Moon over the Botanical Garden., March 7, 2023. Above, right: Hikers making it back to the Visitor Center hiking down Clayton's Overlook.
The Road Scholars
March 21, 2023

All Saints Episcopal School, Tyler, Texas March 9, 2023
The University of Texas at San Antonio March 15, 2023

Wishing each of you happy trails
wherever they may lead!
Adios!  See you soon!
Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute, P.O. Box 905, Fort Davis, TX 79734


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