Wednesday, April 28, 2010

ENV: Big Springs

this is a collection of pictures of importance from the last few days at Big Springs Ranch, including surveys on 22 April 2010, on 25 April 2010 with Derek Muschalek, and on 23 and 24 April 2010 with parties from Nature Quest specifically looking at birds and dragonflies. The pictures mostly represent specific items that we discovered or discussed as unusual or of interest. i am also appending our faunal and floral lists for the weekend trips. finally, at the bottom is a small sampling of pictures, some a couple years old, that were presented to us by professional cavers who have been mapping the sytem behind the springs. they were in this weekend as well, but gave us pictures dating back quite a while. clicking on a picture will give you the original version for a closer look.

Snowy Egret, first for the Ranch, 22 April 2010

Adult Raven on edge of nest with three younger chicks on left. Two older chicks on right, one heading over to left to beg for food. Junction of Big Springs and Frio River, 23 April 2010

Apparent Northern Parula singing Yellow-throated Warbler song,
25 April 2010, see notes below

Widow's Tears, Commelinantia anomala

Mexican Prickly-Poppy, Argemone mexicana

Two-tailed Swallowtail, Papilio multicaudata

Red Admiral, Vanessa atalanta

Summer Tanagers nest commonly on the Ranch, but we
had a heavy drop-in of migrants on Satruday and they
seemed to be everywheree, i estimated 50, but i'd bet we
really ran across many more than that.

The raging pouroff after a couple weeks of solid rains.

A cooperative male Golden-cheeked Warbler

Chatterbox or Helleborine Orchid, Epipactis gigantea this was the only plant blooming among the couple of stands in Ranch seeps it's still early for them

The very rare Black Sedge above the common Jamaican Sawgrass

male Jade-striped Sylph, Macrothemis inequiunguis, 25 April 2010

female Jade-striped Sylph, Macrothemis inequiunguis, 25 April 2010

another Golden-cheeked Warbler male

An Earthstar-type Fungus

Northern Cloudywing, Thorybes pylades

Green Skipper, Hesperia viridis

Question Mark, Polygonia interrogationis

Derek Muschalek at the Big Springs

Celia's Roadside-Skipper

Oenothera rosea

Stream Loosestrife

Claret Cup Cactus, Echinocereus triglochidiatus

Nature Quest Field Trips to Big Springs Ranch for Children
Real County, Texas, 22-25 April 2010

New species to Big Spring Ranch Checklist this spring including Nature Quest
funnel-web spider sp. (Nature Quest)
midge fly sp. (Nature Quest)
red Pyralid moth sp. (Nature Quest)
Grapevine Epimenis (Nature Quest)
Orange-fringed Black Skeletonizer (post-NQ trip)
Least Skipper (Nature Quest)
Green Skipper (post-Nature Quest)
Strecker’s (prob.)/Yucca (poss.) Giant-Skipper (Nature Quest; post-NQ)
Springtime Darner (first noted by Tripp Davenport; also on NQ trips)
Golden-winged Dancer (first for Real County; found by Tripp Davenport; photos)
Snowy Egret (Tony Gallucci pre-Nature Quest; photos)
Swainson’s Hawk (Nature Quest)
Lesser Yellowlegs (Nature Quest)
Eurasian Collared-Dove (first noted by Tripp Davenport this spring; also on NQ trips)

notes on giant-skipper sp.
On 24 April 2010, i got a momentary glimpse of a perched Giant-Skipper on the road, and watched it patrol a section of road between the springs road crossing and the upper pond. Along that same stretch i as able to watch two others patrolling, and a fourth above the springs before the “catfish heads”. As my only previous experience with Giant-Skippers in the hill country had been in searches for and occasionally finding adults of Yucca Giant-Skipper, i made the assumption that that was what i was seeing. Further my brief look at the perched bug appeared to be that species, though i had no time to look it over for other identifying marks. In a later discussion with Derek Muschalek he was intrigued because he thought it late for a bug that flies normally in March. On my way home that night i got to re-thinking the situation and remembered that at least one other Giant-Skipper had been found in the Hill Country before, but i was unaware of details. Further i knew that some other species came close . . . indeed, Lee Haile and Marshall Johnston had discovered a stand of Manfreda cf. sileri near Nature Quest headquarters the same day, which initiated a conversation about a) the last known records of Manfreda Giant-Skipper, and b) the presence of a small group of Manfreda at Big Springs, which may or may not be cultivars, or natives purposely planted. While i did not think there was any way the bugs i observed were Manfreda Giant-Skipper, it did spark me to immediately do some research when i got home. Since i would be returning on the 25th with Derek, largely to refind these bugs, i wanted to be aware of all the possibilities and field marks. What i found was that there were six species that had occurred with about 70 miles of the Ranch . . . in addition to those discussed above, there were Mary’s Giant-Skipper, which could be logically eliminated because it uses Agave lecheguilla as a host (few on the Ranch, and mostly cultivars) and is a fall flier, Coahuila Giant-Skipper, also using Agave lecheguilla and flying in late summer to fall, both of those occurring as close as Val Verde County (two counties away) and Ursine Giant-Skipper which uses some of the larger Yuccas and the plains type Yuccas, but doesn’t fly until late May through the summer. It has been recorded as close as Val Verde County as well. All three of those species could be considered Chihuahuan Desert endemics, and Real County has fringe elements of the Chihuahuan Desert flora, although it’s technically not in it. Of the remaining original three species of Giant-Skipper, Manfreda Giant-Skipper has been recorded in adjacent Uvalde County and is thought of, along with the plant as a lowland species. The presence of Manfreda growing at Concan raises some questions though. Nevertheless it is highly unlikely to be the bug we saw, for the total lack of Manfreda in the area we were. I might mention as well that in my short look the bug i saw did not strike me as resembling any of these four species. That brings us to the final two. Yucca Giant-Skipper has a flight period of late February to May according to the literature. However, it is widespread from Mexico to the middle Rockies, and the later flight is tied to its northern reaches. In our area i cannot find flights past the first week of April. We had talked extensively about the late season we are experiencing in terms of both odonate and butterfly emergences, and one could postulate the same for these bugs. It utilizes a variety of Yucca species as host plants, several of which are easily found on the Ranch, and in the locations where these bugs were observed, including Yucca constricta-complex, and Yucca baccata-complex species. In short we could not rule it out as being the species i observed. The last species is Strecker’s Giant-Skipper, also a somewhat widespread species, and one that has been recorded in several counties in the central Hill Country. Although i could not find a specific Real County record, maps seem to encompass Real in the distribution. In addition, the Hill Country population is isolated from the remaining range, and is considered a separate subspecies with a unique hostplant. It is noted as having a flight time immediately following Yucca Giant-Skipper, which would be perfectly appropriate for our observations. The host plant is Yucca rupicola, the common ground-level growing Yucca of the central Hill Country, and which is common on the Ranch and in the area of the sightings. The final piece of evidence that indicates this might have been the species observed is that it among all the species is the one most closely resembling the Yucca Giant-Skipper and that in my glimpse of the bug i did not look for and could easily have missed the key fieldmark separating the two. I picked up Derek the morning of the 25th and relayed all i had found to him, and we set out in search of more individuals. We found bugs in one of the locations from the previous day, and in two new locations, indicating we had probably six individuals over the weekend. Unfortunately, we never had one perch, they were constantly in their bullet-like zagging patrol flight. Attempts to net were ridiculously optimistic. We also noted that between the two days the bugs were flying only between 9:30 and 10, with field time between about 8 and noon. I have not attempted to find them later in the day yet. So, we are currently left with a unknown identification but with both of us leaning heavily towards Strecker’s Giant-Skipper. I also think it probable that Yucca Giant-skipper also occurs on the Ranch, but it will take efforts earlier in the season to locate them.

notes on sylphs
Earlier this month Tripp Davenport, science supervisor at our Ranch high school, found a Jade-striped Sylph near Austin, setting a new early date record for Texas by several weeks. I was intrigued that they might be out as well at the Ranch but was unable to get there right away. And in looking on Friday and Saturday found none. This weekend would have been the earliest ever for the Ranch at least. Then on Sunday i glimpsed a patrolling bug on the terraces below the springs that i felt pretty certain was a male, but wasn’t going to mark it as a new early date without some other confirmation. Once Derek and i had crossed the river heading back to the car, i noticed a dead bug on the ground, and in picking it up found it to be a male Jade-striped Sylph. No indication what killed it, and there is virtually no traffic on this road on a daily basis, and certainly none travelling over 5 miles an hour, if that, so that seems unlikely as a source of the kill. It had no chunks missing either. It was in full color, and the wings looked worn, so i suspect it had been flying for at least a while. While we were looking at it another bug flew bouncing by and i netted it. It was a fresh female, not teneral, but probably emerged that day (25th). I photographed both bugs, retained the male specimen, and released the female.

notes on raven nest
On Friday i showed the Nature Quest group the Common Raven nest on the honeycomb overhang above tablerock, and one of the participants noted that there appeared to be two nests. Sure enough not only were there two nests (for the first time in my observations at the Ranch), but there were two young in one nest and three in the other. In all my years i have never seen this, thinking Common Ravens to be territorial. I have done some preliminary searches and have not found any specific instances of Common Ravens communally or colonially nesting. However, African Dwarf Ravens do so, and there are records in North America for both American Crows and Northwestern Crows, and i found indications that Fish Crows do also. But there is also specific research on Chihuahuan Ravens to determine if any takes place, which found them too territorial to allow for it. Although they do not keep other nesters from feeding range, they do maintain a minimum distance between nests even among former nest helpers from previous generations. I will continue to research to see if there are records for Common Raven. We watched these birds at some length and found that when an adult came to the nest, four times over the days we observed, that they always fed the young in the leftmost nest. At one time, the two birds from the rightmost nest made their way to the other nest along a small ridge but were ignored by the adults. In addition it was clear that the rightmost birds were significantly older than the leftmost birds, being close to fledging (indeed one was not in the nest on Sunday), and standing on the rim of the nest. The other three were hunkered in the nest until an adult arrived, and while fully covered in feathers, still had bright yellow gapes and did not appear near ready to fledge. I guessed a difference in age of at least one week. Pictures of the nests are posted at

notes on vireo mimics
Vireos are known mimics, incorporating portions of other birds’ songs into their phrases. Especially notable is the Black-capped Vireo which may insert a number of other birds’ songs in its long rambling phrases. Over the weekend i encountered three vireos utilizing the songs of other vireos which momentarily had me pursuing them in search of the “better” birds. They included a White-eyed Vireo incorporating Hutton’s Vireo elements in its song (Hutton’s Vireos were also present at the location), and both a White-eyed and a Red-eyed Vireo incorporating Black-capped Vireo elements in their songs which led to the discovery of a Black-capped Vireo singing in a location where they had not previously been found on the Ranch.

notes on odd Parula song
On the 25th Derek and i had both identified a Yellow-throated Warbler song emanating from a very large Cedar Elm above the springs. While we were looking for other birds, a bird popped out on a bare limb of that same elm and Derek immediately identified it as a Northern Parula. Both of these species breed on the Ranch. He then noted that it was singing the song we had previously identified as being a Yellow-throated Warbler. We watched it for several minutes as it repeatedly sang that song while never singing a song we typically associate with Northern Parula. I took a series of pictures but the tree was so tall and my lens so inadequate that detail is hard to gather from the pics. Nevertheless you can see the half eye crescents, yellow throat, and dark throat band typical of Northern Parula. We considered three possibilities, none of which can i totally dispel: a) the bird learned the song from a Yellow-throated Warbler male singing nearby during its development; b) it was a Sutton’s Warbler, a known hybrid form between Yellow-throated and Parula Warblers, and learned from its male parent; or c) was perhaps influenced genetically by the swarm of Tropical x Northern Parula hybrids known from the Hill Country, with the genetic influence of southern Tropical Parulas which sing a warbled rather than buzzy song. This last seems the most unlikely, at least in part because we both thought the song was indistinguishable from other Yellow-throated Warblers we were hearing all morning.

photos at

notes on Saffron Thistle
After discovering a small stand of this European/Asian/Australian invasive last year, and after identifying it as a hyper-noxious weed, i made a rudimentary effort to trash seedheads in 2009. However i discovered what looks now to be about a thousand plants on our trip in on Friday. I have alerted Ranch staff, found out that there are a few more small pops on the Ranch, and we have begun an eradication attempt to prevent it from taking over the open lands on the Ranch.

Checklist of animals seen
+ = too many to count
# = photographed
numbers are by date A-B-C-D where A = 22 April 2010, B = 23 April 2010, C = 24 April 2010, D = 25 April 2010
scientific names are available on the Ranch Master Checklist

White Globesnail 0-1-0-0

iron gray millipede sp. 0-1-0-0

funnel-web spider sp. 0-web-0-0

Insects (excluding Butterflies/Moths and Odonates)
cranefly sp. 0-200-20-40
treehole mosquito sp. 0-0-2-0
gray-striped fly sp. 0-0-0-2
blackbutt red wasp sp. 0-1-0-0
European Honeybee 0-3-6-4
Imported Fire Ant 0-+-+-+
Native Fire Ant 0-+-+-+
road burrow ant sp. 0-+-+-+
Texas Red Harvester Ant 0-+-0-0
orange band-winged grasshopper sp. 0-1-0-4
pygmy grasshopper sp. 0-0-0-1
Cochineal Bug 0-+-+-+
Gerrid Strider 0-+-0-10
Veliid strider sp. 0-+-0-0
scarlet Sophora plant bug sp. 0-+-0-+
black ground termite 0-0-+-0
midge fly sp. 0-0-+-0

gold Pyralid moth sp. 0-+-2-2
red Pyralid moth sp. 0-0-1-0
Grapevine Epimenis 0-0-1-0
Orange-fringed Black Skeletonizer 0-0-0-+ (new to Ranch)
White-lined Sphinx 0-0-2-1

# Northern Cloudywing 0-1-0-3
Horace’s Duskywing 0-1-0-0
Common Sootywing 0-1-0-0
Common/White Checkered-Skipper 0-4-0-4
Sachem 0-0-0-3
Whirlabout 0-0-3-0
Fiery Skipper 0-1-1-0
Least Skipper 0-2-0-0
# Celia’s Roadside-Skipper 0-0-0-1
# Green Skipper 0-0-0-1 (new to Ranch)
Strecker’s/Yucca Giant-Skipper 0-0-4-3

Pipevine Swallowtail 0-4-2-0
Spicebush Swallowtail 0-1-0-0
Black Swallowtail 0-1-1-4
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail 0-0-1-0
# Two-tailed Swallowtail 0-4-5-6
Giant Swallowtail 0-1-0-1
Orange Sulphur 0-2-0-2
Cloudless Sulphur 0-2-4-0
Lyside Sulphur 0-1-1-0
Sleepy Orange 0-40-20-20
Dainty Sulphur 0-4-0-0
Checkered White 0-10-3-3
Gray Hairstreak 0-0-1-8
Reakirt’s Blue 0-2-0-1
Queen 0-1-1-0
Monarch 0-1-0-0
Gulf Fritillary 0-1-0-0
Variegated Fritillary 0-3-2-10
# Question Mark 0-3-2-4
# Red Admiral 0-8-4-10
Painted Lady 0-1-0-0
American Lady 0-1-1-3
Arizona Sister 0-1-0-1
Red-spotted Purple 0-1-0-1

American Rubyspot 0-1-0-0
Double-striped Bluet 0-40-0-0
Familiar Bluet 0-10-0-0
# Kiowa Dancer 0-10-1-1
# Aztec Dancer 0-30-0-1
# Springwater Dancer 0-8-0-2
# Violet Dancer 0-1-0-1
# Blue-ringed Dancer 0-0-2-2
Powdered Dancer 0-0-1-0
Dusky Dancer 0-2-0-0
dancer sp. 0-2-0-0

Common Green Darner 0-4-1-0
Springtime Darner 0-1-1-0
# Sulphur-tipped Clubtail 0-1-0-0
# Pronghorn Clubtail 0-0-0-1
# Flag-tailed Spinyleg 0-0-0-1
Dot-winged Baskettail 0-10-2-1
Prince Baskettail 0-1-2-0
# Jade-striped Sylph 0-0-0-3 (1 live male, 1 dead male, 1 live female)
Flame Skimmer 0-8-3-1
Widow Skimmer 0-1-0-0
Common Whitetail 0-0-0-1
Pale-faced Clubskimmer 0-12-2-2
Variegated Meadowhawk 0-0-1-3

Common Carp 0-1-0-0
Blacktail Shiner 0-20-6-6
Largespring Gambusia 0-30-10-0
Redbreast Sunfish 0-1-0-0

neotenic salamander 7c 0-2-0-0
Gulf Coast Toad 0-+tadpoles-0-0
Blanchard’s Cricket Frog 0-20-10-10
Cliff Chirping Frog 0-0-1-0
Rio Grande Leopard Frog 0-+tadpoles-1tadpole-0

Guadalupe Softshell 0-0-0-1
Texas Slider 0-0-0-1
# Red-eared Slider 0-2-0-3
Eastern Tree Lizard 0-1-0-0

Wild Turkey 0-0-1f-0
Great Blue Heron 0-1-1-0
# Snowy Egret 1-0-0-0 (new for Ranch)
Cattle Egret 0-2-0-0
Turkey Vulture 4-10-4-20
Black Vulture 1-15-2-3
Red-tailed Hawk 0-1-0-0
Red-shouldered Hawk 0-0-0-1
Zone-tailed Hawk 1-0-0-0
Swainson’s Hawk 0-0-1-0 (new for Ranch)
hawk sp. 0-1-0-0
Osprey 1-0-0-0
Spotted Sandpiper 0-1-1-2
Lesser Yellowlegs 0-0-3-0 (new for Ranch)
Mourning Dove 0-2-2-0
White-winged Dove 0-2-0-1
Inca Dove 0-6-2-1
Common Ground-Dove 0-1-0-0
Eurasian Collared-Dove 4-2-2-4 (new to Ranch this spring)
Chimney Swift 0-4-0-0
# Black-chinned Hummingbird 0-1-6-3
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 0-1-2-0
hummingbird sp. 0-5-30-0
#Green Kingfisher 0-1-4-0
Ladder-backed Woodpecker 0-4-3-3
Golden-fronted Woodpecker 0-2-2-2
# Eastern Phoebe 0-3-4-3
Black Phoebe 0-2-1-2
Eastern Wood-Pewe3e 0-2-2-3
Acadian Flycatcher 0-0-1-0
# Ash-throated Flycatcher 0-20-10-12
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher 0-1-0-0
Vermilion Flycatcher 0-0-0-1
# White-eyed Vireo 2-6-10-6
Yellow-throated Vireo 0-2-3-4
# Hutton’s Vireo 0-3-3-2
Red-eyed Vireo 0-1-1-2
Black-capped Vireo 0-1-0-0
# Western Scrub-Jay 0-1-1-3
# Common Raven 0-9-8-8 (3 to four adults plus five young on two adjacent nests)
Barn Swallow 0-8-5-2
Cliff Swallow 20-100-150-40
Tree Swallow 0-0-40-0
Northern Wough-winged Swallow 0-10-2-2
Carolina Chickadee 0-2-0-2
Black-crested Titmouse 0-12-6-8
# Bewick’s Wren 1-3-4-3
Canyon Wren 0-5-6-5
Carolina Wren 0-3-6-4
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 0-0-1-0
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 0-1-2-4
Northern Mockingbird 0-1-0-0
Northern Parula 0-2-1-[#1?] last parula singing Yellow-throated Warbler song/Sutton’s?
parula sp. (Northern/Tropical) 0-2-1-0
Nashville Warbler 0-2-0-4
Orange-crowned Warbler 0-0-0-3
Black-and-white Warbler 0-4-5-2
# Golden-cheeked Warbler 0-10-8-6
Yellow-throated Warbler 0-4-6-4
# Yellow-rumped (Audubon’s) Warbler 0-0-1-0
Louisiana Waterthrush 0-2-1-2
# Summer Tanager 0-8-50-20
Chipping Sparrow 30-5-25-10
Rufous-crowned Sparrow 0-0-1-0
Lark Sparrow 4-3-0-1
Northern Cardinal 0-4-8-5
Painted Bunting 2-0-1-2
Indigo Bunting 0-0-1-0
Red-winged Blackbird 0-2-0-0
# Brown-headed Cowbird 0-8-12-2
Scott’s Oriole 0-1-0-0
# House Finch 0-2-12-2
Lesser Goldfinch 0-2-4-1
Pine Siskin 0-0-1-0

Axis Deer 0-0-0-3
Rock Squirrel 0-0-0-1

These are the fungi and plants noted in the four days at the Ranch. Species photographed are marked with #.

GEASTRACEAE – Earthstar Family
# Earthstar-type Fungus

Supergroup PRIMOPLANTAE – Green Algae
CHLOROPHYCEAE – Green Algae Family
Green Algae sp.

Kingdom PLANTAE – Plants
ANEMIACEAE – Grass Fern Family
# Mexican Curlygrass Fern, Anemia mexicana

PTERIDACEAE – Rock Fern Family
# Maidenhair Fern, Adiantum capillus-veneris
Standley Cloakfern, Notholaena standleyi

THELYPTERIDACEAE – Bracken Fern Family
River Shieldfern, Thelypteris ovata var. lindheimeri

CUPRESSACEAE – Cypress Family
Ashe Juniper/Mountain Cedar, Juniperus ashei
Bald Cypress, Taxodium distichum

POACEAE – Grass Family
Water Bentgrass, Agrostis semiverticillata (Polypogon viridis)
Bushybeard Bluestem, Andropogon glomeratus
King Ranch Bluestem, Bothriochloa ischaemum var. songarica
Buffalograss, Buchloe dactyloides
Coastal Bermudagrass, Cynodon dactylon
Scribner Panicgrass, Dichanthelium (Panicum) oligosanthes
Lindheimer Muhly, Muhlenbergia lindheimeri
Switchgrass, Panicum virgatum
Green Bristlegrass, Setaria viridis
Texas Wintergrass/Speargrass, Stipa (Nassella) leucotricha
Little Bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium

CYPERACEAE – Sedge Family
# Jamaican Sawgrass, Cladium jamaicense
# Black Sedge, Schoenus nigricans

BROMELIACEAE – Pineapple and Airplant Family
# Ballmoss, Tillandsia recurvata
Spanish Moss, Tillandsia usneoides

COMMELINACEAE – Dayflower Family
Erect Dayflower, Commelina erecta
# Widow’s Tears, Tinantia (Commelinantia) anomala

LILIACEAE –True Lily Family
Spring Rainlily, Cooperia pedunculata

ALLIACEAE – Garlic Family
Drummond Wild Garlic, Allium drummondii
Crowpoison, Nothoscordum bivalve

RUSCACEAE – Beargrass Family
Texas Sotol, Dasylirion texanum
Sacahuista, Nolina texana

AGAVACEAE – Agave/Yucca Family
Century Plant, Agave americana
# Manfreda sp., Manfreda sp.
Giant Yucca sp., Yucca baccata/carnerosana
Soaptree Yucca, Yucca cf. elata
cf. Hybrid Yucca, Yucca rupicola X Y. cf. constricta
Twistleaf Yucca, Yucca rupicola
Spanish Dagger, Yucca treculeana
Plains-type Yucca sp., Yucca sp. cf. constricta

ORCHIDACEAE – Orchid Family
# Giant Helleborine/Chatterbox Orchid, Epipactis gigantea

JUGLANDACEAE – Hickory Family
Pecan, Carya illinoensis
Arizona Walnut, Juglans major
Mexican Walnut/Little Walnut/Nogalito, Juglans microcarpa

FAGACEAE – Oak/Beech Family
Texas Oak/Spanish Oak, Quercus buckleyi (Q. texana)
Plateau Live Oak, Quercus fusiformis
# Lacey Oak/Blue Oak, Quercus laceyi (Q. glaucoides)
Plateau Chinkapin Oak, Quercus muhlenbergii var. brayi
Scalybark/Bastard/Shin Oak, Quercus sinuata var. breviloba

Netleaf Hackberry, Celtis reticulata

ULMACEAE – Elm Family
Cedar Elm, Ulmus crassifolia

MORACEAE - -Mulberry Family
Texas Littleleaf Mulberry, Morus microphylla

URTICACEAE – Nettle Family
False-nettle, Boehmeria cylindrica
Cucumberweed, Parietaria pensylvanica (P. obtusa)

ROSACEAE – Rose and Fruit Family
Mountain Mahogany, Cercocarpus montanus
Escarpment Black Cherry, Prunus serotina ssp. eximia

RHAMNACEAE – Buckthorn Family
Redroot/Inland Ceanothus, Ceanothus herbaceus
Green Squawbush, Condalia viridis
Carolina Buckthorn, Rhamnus caroliniana

NYCTAGINACEAE – Four O’Clock Family
Rock Four O’Clock, Mirabilis dumetorum (syn. latifolia)

Bentham Sandwort, Arenaria benthamii

CACTACEAE – Cactus Family
Nipple Cactus, Coryphantha sulcata
Strawberry Pitaya, Echinocereus enneacanthus
White Lace Cactus, Echinocereus reichenbachii var. reichenbachii
# Claret Cup Cactus, Echinocereus triglochidiatus
Engelmann’s Prickly Pear, Opuntia lindheimeri

CABOMBACEAE – Fanwort Family
Carolina Fanwort, Cabomba caroliniana

RANUNCULACEAE – Buttercup Family
Windflower, Anemone heterophylla
# Scarlet Leatherflower, Clematis texensis

BERBERIDACEAE – Barberry Family
# Agarita, Berberis trifoliolata

# Yellow/Mexican Prickly Poppy, Argemone mexicana

LAURACEAE – Laurel Family
Spicebush, Lindera benzoin

BRASSICACEAE – Mustard Family
Virginia Peppergrass, Lepidium virginicum
Plateau Bladderpod, Lesquerella recurvata
Water-Cress, Nasturtium officinale (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum)

HALORAGIDACEAE – Water Milfoil Family
Water Milfoil sp., Myriophyllum sp.

HYDRANGEACEAE – Saxifrage Family
Texas Mock-Orange, Philadelphus texensis

PLATANACEAE – Windseed Family
Western Sycamore, Platanus occidentalis

FABACEAE – Bean Family
Huisache, Acacia smallii (A.miniata, A. farnesiana)
Texas Redbud, Cercis canadensis var. texensis
Texas Kidneywood, Eysenhardtia texana
Plateau Indigo, Indigofera lindheimeriana
Texas Bluebonnet, Lupinus texensis
Least Bur-Clover, Medicago minima
# Fragrant Pink Mimosa, Mimosa borealis
Honey Mesquite, Prosopis glandulosa
Lindheimer Senna, Senna (Cassia) lindheimeriana
Eve’s Necklace, Sophora affinis
Texas Mountain-Laurel/Mescalbean, Sophora secundiflora
Leavenworth Vetch, Vicia leavenworthii

OXALIDACEAE – Sorrel Family
Yellow Woodsorrel/Common Sour-Clover, Oxalis dillenii

RUTACEAE – Rue Family
Wafer Ash/Hoptree, Ptelea trifoliolata

MELIACEAE – Chinaberry Family
Chinaberry, Melia azedarach

ARALIACEAE -- Aral Family
Water Pennywort, Hydrocotyle cf. verticillata

SALICACEAE – Poplar, Cottonwood and Willow Family
Coyote Willow, Salix cf. exigua
Black Willow, Salix nigra

Black Noseburn, Tragia nigricans

PASSIFLORACEAE – Passionflower Faimly
Yellow Passionflower, Passiflora affinis

ANACARDIACEAE – Pistachio Family
Poison Oak, Rhus toxicodendron var. eximia
Poison Ivy, Rhus toxicodendron var. toxicodendron
Skunkbush/Aromatic Sumac, Rhus trilobata var. trilobata (R. aromatica var. flabelliformis)
Evergreen Sumac, Rhus virens
Smoketree, Cotinus obovatus

SAPINDACEAE – Maple Family
Rocky Mountain Bigtooth Maple, Acer grandidentatum var. grandidentatum
Yellow (Red) Buckeye, Aesculus pavia var. flavescens
Mexican Buckeye, Ungnadia speciosa

VITACEAE – Grape Family
Virginia Creeper, Parthenoscissus quinquefolia
cf. Thicket Creeper, Parthenocissus cf. vitacea
Berlandier’s Grape, Vitis cinerea (V. berlandieri)
Mountain Grape, Vitis monticola

LYTHRACEAE – Myrtle Family
# Plateau/Stream Loosestrife, Lythrum ovalifolium

ONAGRACEAE – Primrose Family
# Pink Evening-Primrose/Rose of Mexico, Oenothera rosea

GARRYACEAE – Silk-Tassel Family
Lindheimer’s/Mexican Silk-tassel, Garrya ovata var. lindheimeri

EBENACEAE – Persimmon Family
Texas Persimmon, Diospyros texana

Drummond’s Phlox, Phlox drummondii

APOCYNACEAE – Dogbane Family
Antelopehorns Milkweed, Asclepias asperula
Star Milkvine, Matelea biflora
Pearl Milkvine, Matelea reticulata

CONVOLVULACEAE – Morning Glory Family
Lindheimer’s Morning Glory, Ipomoea lindheimeri

Blue-Curls, Phacelia congesta

OLEACEAE – Olive Family
Redbud, Menodora heterophylla

LOGANIACEAE – Butterflyflower Family
Wand Butterflybush, Buddleja racemosa

VERBENACEAE – Vervain Family
Frogfruit, Phyla incisa
Dakota Vervain, Verbena bipinnatifida
Gray Vervain, Verbena canescens
Texas Vervain, Verbena halei
Pink Vervain, Verbena pumila

LAMIACEAE – Mint Family
Annual Pennyroyal, Hedeoma acinioides
Spearmint, Mentha spicata
Mealy Sage, Salvia farinacea
# Annual/Drummond’s Skullcap, Scutellaria drummondii

SCROPHULARIACEAE – Monkeyflower Family
Common/Woolly Mullein, Verbascum thapsus

ACANTHACEAE – Wild Petunia Family
American Water-willow, Justicia americana

Redseed Plantain, Plantago rhodosperma
Paleseed Plantain, Plantago virginica

CAPRIFOLIACEAE – Honeysuckle Family
White Bush-Honeysuckle, Lonicera albiflora

ASTERACEAE – Sunflower Family
Hierba del Marrano, Aster subulatus
Rooseveltweed/Baccharis, Baccharis neglecta
# Bullthistle/Nodding Thistle, Carduus nutans
Slender Bristle-thistle, Carduus tenuiflorus
Distaff/Saffron Thistle, Carthamus lanatus (collected)
Hairy Least-Daisy/Dwarf White Aster, Chaetopappa bellidifolia
# Spreading Least-Daisy, Chaetopappa effusa
Silverpuff/Nodding Lettuce, Chaptalia texana (C. nutans)
Texas Thistle, Cirsium texanum
Plumed Thistle, Cirsium undulatum
Engelmann’s Daisy, Engelmannia pinnatifida
Shrubby Boneset/Thoroughwort, Eupatorium havanense
Late Boneset, Eupatorium serotinum
Roundhead Rabbit-Tobacco, Evax verna
Pinchusion Daisy, Gaillardia suavis
# Lindheimer’s Rock-Daisy, Perityle lindheimeri
White Rock-Lettuce, Pinaropappus roseus
Streamside Goldenrod, Solidago juliae
Sow-Thistle, Sonchus asper
Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale
Cowpen Daisy, Verbesina encelioides
Frostweed/Iceplant, Verbesina virginica

The main springs

The cave system behind the springs

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

MSC: World Music News Wire #3

Outrageous Fortune: The Sultry Ana Moura’s Fresh Take on Portuguese Fado


She sings the traditional three-song set at storied fado houses in Lisbon, picking her songs right before stepping out on stage in front of the candlelit room, following the call of her heart at that moment. She improvises vocal lines on stage with Mick Jagger in front of packed stadiums.

She grew up hearing her mom sing the serpentine songs of traditional fado while doing the dishes. She got her start singing rock. Now she hangs with Prince, who was so moved by her music that he called her out of the blue one morning, in what she at first took for a prank.

AnaMoura_CDCover She uses a spare trio of the traditional guitarra (the 12 metal-stringed Portuguese guitar), acoustic guitar, and bass to back her heartfelt voice. She is inspired by the big sounds of Nina Simone and Marvin Gaye to find new ways to explore her love affair with Portugal’s answer to the blues.

This study in contrasts is the stunning Ana Moura, one of fado’s most intriguing young voices. Long beloved and ever flexible, Portugal’s bittersweet musical tradition is transformed by Moura’s velvet contralto and spontaneous soul on Leve-me Aos Fados (Take Me To A Fado House) and in concert this April, as Moura comes to New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, as part of a North American tour.

“Fado is about what’s going on in our souls. What we singers pick in the moment is about what we are feeling, that’s the feeling of the fado house,” Moura explains, describing her approach to performances. “I do that in concert with one or two songs, pick them at the moment according to how I feel right then. I never know beforehand which fados I’m going to sing.”

This spontaneity leaves ample room for innovation and unexpected twists. Though deeply traditional, fado has always been a vehicle for new perspectives and sounds. “We listen to other kinds of music, too, and when something new comes into the fado, it’s normal,” notes Moura. “Musicians bring new arrangements, new things to the traditional fado, but it’s very subtle and organic.”

As part of this process, ancient melodies become settings for new lyrics, and Ana puts new words—her own or those of well-known contemporary lyricists like Jorge Fernando—to old tunes, as fado musicians have for generations. Because "fado is all about feelings" as Moura puts it, these new perspectives reflect the modern state of relationships.

“There are lyrics I love from the older generation but I can’t sing them because I wouldn’t react to a situation like that,” Moura smiles. “Back in those days, women were more submissive. Now we are not; we’re independent. We have our jobs and freedom. In matters of the heart, we face our feelings in different ways and the ways we tell our story are different.”

Moura’s own story is one of outrageous fortune. Fado, after all, means “fate” in Portuguese. Though she had always been drawn to fados, it was not until her early twenties that a chance meeting with several musicians at a bar where friends urged her to sing a fado led her eventually to one of Lisbon’s most famous fado houses. Her newfound acquaintances invited her to a party, the owner of the fado house fell in love with her singing, and she found herself performing nightly.

“I was recording a pop and rock CD but I would sometimes sing a fado, with an electric guitar,” Moura laughs. “Then I started to work at the fado house and fell in love with the atmosphere. You stand right next to the audience and sing from your soul in the same beautiful building where famous poets once wrote.”

The young singer was quickly taken in by the older generation of musicians. There’s a belief among fado musicians that fadistas are born, never made. There's a certain something that can't be articulated or taught; it can only be invoked, like the swing in jazz or that perfect sense of the blues.

Moura, from her accidental start as a fado singer, was tapped by the usually reticent and reluctant elder fadistas she sang for as a born artist. “The older musicians sometimes don’t accept young people very well,” says Moura. “Their circle can be very closed. I was very well accepted, though.” She was so overwhelmed by this endorsement that she switched gears, dedicating herself to the music she had loved growing up. Even the producer of her rock album told her to record her fados instead.

Yet fate had more in store for Moura, including rubbing musical shoulders with some of the world’s pop luminaries. When The Rolling Stones came to Portugal, they wanted to catch some real-deal fado. They came and listened to Moura, who nervously eyed Mick Jagger until she got swept up in her song. To return the favor, they invited her to join them for dinner and their concert.

Little did she know that the invitation included a spot on stage, a turn of events that took Moura completely by surprise. “Mick said, ‘I sing four keys higher than you.’ I had to improvise a new melody to the song. I was supposed to go have dinner and watch the concert, but not sing with them!” Moura exclaims. After running through the song twice, the show got started. “At first I was so nervous. I forgot what I had worked out during our rehearsal. But then I started singing, making things up on the spot,” as the audience went wild.

Moura’s voice and interpretation of fado not only wowed rock’s elder statesmen; it brought pop icon Prince to Paris to hear her. “I got a phone call really early in the morning,” Moura recalls with a smile. “It was Prince’s bodyguard, but I thought it was a musician friend from New York. I was really shocked when he said he was going to put Prince on the phone.” The musician had heard one of her albums and become fascinated with her music and voice.

Beyond all the celebrity and praise—Moura has won prestigious awards, played at her native land’s most important venues, and toured extensively since that fateful song at the bar—Moura remains passionately devoted to the fados that changed her life. “Fado is to be felt and each person has the freedom to feel and to use the song in their particular way,” Moura muses. “Sometimes we try to describe too much. I want to leave everyone the freedom to feel fado for themselves.”

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

COM: Our National Buffoon

one has to wonder if she is dyspraxic or something . . .

"And then, hearing any leader declare that America isn't a Christian nation and poking an ally like Israel in the eye, it's mind-boggling to see some of our nation's actions recently, but politics truly is a topic for another day."

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MSC: World Music News Wire #2

Ancient Aztec Myths, Cowboy Mice, and Dancing Iguanas: Sones de Mexico Ensemble Creates a Fiesta Mexicana for Children


What do a crawfish, a cowboy mouse, and a 100-year-old woman have in common? They are all characters in Fiesta Mexicana: Mexican Songs & Stories for Niños & Niñas and their Papás & Mamás, the latest recording by Sones de Mexico Ensemble. The same band that three years ago ventured into uncharted waters with Mexican folk retoolings of Led Zeppelin’s “Four Sticks” and J.S. Bach’s “Brandenburg 3-2” for their GRAMMY™ and Latin GRAMMY™ nominated album Esta Tierra Es Tuya (This Land Is Your Land) now digs deep into Mexican folklore. The sextet, formed by Victor Pichardo (music director), Juan Díes (producer), Lorena Iñiguez, Juan Rivera, Zacbé Pichardo, and Javier Saume offers something new to a generation of kids that is growing up in a globalized world: a bilingual, double album for the 21st Century with 44 tracks that include songs over 300-years-old, fantastic characters, and children’s entertainers Dan Zanes and Ella Jenkins as special guests singing in Spanish.

As Mexico celebrates its 200th birthday in 2010, Fiesta Mexicana addresses a “gap in quality educational programming,” says producer and bassist Juan Díes. According to a recent Pew Research Center report, “Hispanics now make up 22% of all children under the age of 18 in the United States—up from 9% in 1980—...A majority (52%) of the nation’s 16 million Hispanic children are now ‘second generation,’ meaning they are the U.S.-born sons or daughters of at least one foreign-born parent.” “Parents and educators often complain about the lack of quality programs and materials to help kids of Mexican ancestry maintain a connection to their family’s roots,” says Díes. “Our response is Fiesta Mexicana.”

Sones_cover2 But Fiesta Mexicana does not only address Mexican-American kids, says Díes. “It’s for everyone who lives in this bilingual and bicultural environment.” The lessons are universal, not just about Mexican culture; he adds, “kids learn about tempo in music, about loving animals, and about the importance of balance in the world and in one’s self.” “We are educators at heart,” says music director Víctor Pichardo, who was brought to Chicago 17 years ago by an arts education organization and conceived Fiesta Mexicana to teach children about Mexican heritage through story and song.

Sones de Mexico Ensemble began performing this educational program in Chicago schools in 1994 and as demand grew took it to audiences throughout the country. “Over the years,” Díes remarks, “this program has been polished like a pebble in a stream, evolving as the band has responded to the reactions of kids.” Taking audiences of all ages on a musical tour of Mexico, the program incorporates a diverse range of acoustic folk music and folklore from several regions of the country, even including lesser-known Aztec, Mayan, Zoque, and P’urhépecha traditions. “We have a profound respect for the indigenous peoples of Mexico,” Pichardo says, “because their art expresses something very deep. One way to honor them is to include these kinds of works in our program.”

To also address the needs of American children who are growing up in an increasingly bilingual nation, Fiesta Mexicana is a double album, one disc in English and one in Spanish. “Kids are being exposed to both languages,” Díes notes, “in a way that their parents were not. This is not only happening in big cities but also smaller U.S. towns. Many older generation Mexican Americans who grew up in the U.S. 20 or more years ago regret that their parents or their schools never encouraged them to cultivate Spanish or their Mexican heritage; some of them even try to regain both as adults. We see them among our fans, and we open our arms to them. Remarkably, we now run into (non-Hispanic) white or African American children in the schools who walk up and speak Spanish to us because they think it is cool. Clearly and increasingly, it’s not shameful for kids in schools nowadays to have a foreign identity. You don’t have to check it at the door at Ellis Island.”

In this spirit, Fiesta Mexicana invites anyone interested in good, fun music and stories for any age to join this musical adventure. As a showcase of traditional and classic Mexican folk tunes, it can also work as a celebration of identity and pride for young Mexican-Americans. “Sometimes after a show,” Díes recalls, “a kid will come up to me and tug on my shirt, and say ‘Hey, I’m Mexican!’ After seeing our show, they feel proud to be Mexican, maybe for the first time.” Sones de Mexico Ensemble dancer and percussionist Lorena Iñiguez recalls that during a workshop, when she was asked how she got started, she replied that she began dancing with Grupo Netzahualcóyotl (named after the pre-Columbian poet-king), and a child jumped up and said, “Hey, that’s my name!” “Apparently,” she remarks, “the boy had always suffered with this Aztec name because it was different and hard for others to pronounce, and kids made fun of him. But, for this moment, the boy could feel proud of his name and heritage.” “When we perform at schools, students from Mexican parents go out of their way to raise their hands. It brings them a sense of belonging.”

The recording captures the excitement of Sones de Mexico Ensemble’s live performances and draws listeners in as it educates them about Mexican folklore, music, and cosmology through stories and songs. The double-set CD opens and closes with two original compositions by music director Víctor Pichardo (who also arranges, sings and plays various guitars, woodwinds and percussion on the album): “Saludo Jarabeado” (an overture) and “Viñuete” (a lullaby). After the festive overture, which features horn and violin melodies over a fast circus of rhythm, the program moves to an introduction by Juan Díes, who narrates the album and tells stories between musical tracks. Guest instrumentalists include longtime collaborators Víctor García (trumpet) and Steve Eisen (sax and flute) from the Chicago Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble (CALJE) and renowned Tejano button-accordionist and friend Sunny Sauceda from San Antonio, Texas.

After “La Pasión,” a short instrumental prelude, Díes recounts an Aztec creation myth in “How Did It All Begin?,”” which reveals the cosmology of these ancient people. Inviting audience participation, Díes asks the listener to successively face in the four cardinal directions and call upon the earth, wind, fire, and water by shouting their Aztec names as the atecocolli (conch shell horn) blows. The ceremony then begins, as the band plays “Xipe,” a dance of renewal. In preparation for the dance, children learn about the importance of balance, both in nature and within themselves, as they are asked to perform dance movements to the right and then to the left in balanced proportion.

After children learn about the sounds and names of the various Aztec instruments in the nahuatl language comes “El Torito Coiteco,” an instrumental piece from the Zoque people of Chiapas. The song is about a little bull. It features two band members on the folk marimba: Zacbé Pichardo (who also plays harp and percussion in the album) and Javier Saume (who also plays drums and percussion).

The program takes audiences to the lush, tropical Huasteca region of Mexico with a tale about “La Acamaya” (The Crawfish), a feisty little crustacean and her friends who live in the Pánuco River waters. Fiddler Juan Rivera plays several regional styles of folk violin throughout this album, but in this song and the next he plays the Huasteca style of fiddling that is his specialty. From the state of Veracruz follows a dance called “Los Enanos” (The Little Ones)—a favorite with toddlers. The song asks children to crouch, jump, and twirl like turkeys in a choreography that invariably brings a lot of giggles and laughter.

Exploring a bit of border culture, Sones de Mexico Ensemble recounts the hilarious story of a restless cowboy mouse from Texas and invites the audience to clap along to the lively polka-tinged “El Ratón Vaquero.” Víctor Pichardo sings the tale while guest Sunny Sauceda backs him up on the button accordion for an indisputable border sound. The song was originally written in 1934 by one of Mexico’s most prized children’s music composers, Francisco Gabilondo Soler, better known as “Cri-Cri: The Singing Cricket.”

On “El Trenecito,” the band turns to the indigenous music of Michoacán and brings the Danzas de Viejitos (Old Folk’s Dances) to life. This playful song cycle by the late master Tata Gervasio López finds dancers wearing rosy-cheeked masks that make them look like old people. The clown-like dancers wear loud wooden shoes, hats with colored ribbons, and carry wooden walking canes, going out of their way to cause mischief, pounding on the street with their canes. In Fiesta Mexicana, the fictional character of Doña Sabina, a wise 100-year-old woman created by Sones de Mexico Ensemble, teaches the children a lesson about tempo by forming a “human train” with variable speeds.

Rounding off the album, Sones de Mexico Ensemble includes two notable guest performers. Acclaimed children’s musician Dan Zanes appears in the Afro-Mexican song and dance medley “Tixtla.” The medley includes a series of dances where dancers imitate the movements of different animals, including a bull, a buzzard, a duck, a cat, and an iguana. It is believed that freed African slaves brought this playful dancing style to Mexico’s southwestern coast in the 1850s as they made their way from Latin America to California during the Gold Rush. Zanes had asked Sones de Mexico Ensemble to perform with him when he was in Chicago. He had recently spent some time learning folk music in Veracruz, on Mexico’s East coast. The artists kept in touch, and when Sones asked Zanes to perform in their children’s album he eagerly agreed. “”“He insisted on singing in Spanish,” Díes recalls. “His sense of adventure reaffirmed our desire to have him on the album.”

The album ends with a double take of “La Bamba.” It begins with a cover of Ritchie Valens’s 1958 rock ‘n’ roll version that comes to a screeching halt, much to everyone’s disappointment, but then it makes way for a second take: a festive finale with a traditional folk version of “La Bamba” from Veracruz, which, according to the 1683 chronicles of the Hacienda Malibrán in Veracruz, may be over 300 years old.

The English side of the album ends with a bonus track featuring renowned children’s music pioneer Ella Jenkins. She lends her seasoned voice in Spanish to “Quiéreme Mucho,” a 1931 Cuban song, better known in the U.S. as the melody for “Yours.” After appearing as a guest on Sharing Cultures with Ella Jenkins, a Smithsonian Folkways Recordings album, Díes asked Ella to be a guest on Fiesta Mexicana. She suggested this Cuban song. After speaking to the audience in Spanish, her smooth, smoky voice glides over a laid back Afro-Cuban groove accessible to listeners of any age.

While most of their fans only know Sones de Mexico as a touring band that plays in theaters, clubs, and festivals, the ensemble has been deeply committed to the education of youth since 1994, becoming a non-profit organization three years later. They have touched the lives of tens of thousands of children for more than 15 years. Continuing to deliver on this commitment, the band is unveiling a new catalog of educational programs coinciding with the release of this album. Whether performing live or through recording, “we want to inspire our audience,” Pichardo says. “We want to motivate people to go further and explore the rich cultural heritage of Mexico.”

Fiesta Mexicana and Multiple Intelligences

While receiving particular enthusiasm from Mexican-American students, Sones de Mexico Ensemble’s educational programs are designed for all children. The live performance of Fiesta Mexicana has touched students with a diverse range of identities, aptitudes, and developmental abilities. While conducting an artistic residency at a Chicago school, Iñiguez recalls, “there was this one kid who was out of control. I believe he had attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or a mild case of Down syndrome.” The child started following Iñiguez because he was intrigued by the sound of her tap shoes and wanted to sound like her. One day, the student arrived at school with such excitement because he had made his parents put taps on his gym shoes. Iñiguez and the boy’s teachers were amazed when he then proceeded to excel at learning the various Mexican dances. Similarly, Juan Díes recalls that, while doing a class exercise around “Tixtla,” one of the songs in the album that is danced by mimicking the movements of various animals, “we got to the point where we ask the kids to be creative and think of an animal they can make up a dance for. I remember a fifth grader that kept raising her hand to volunteer. She came up several times and invented a few new dances: a giraffe, a mosquito, a gorilla, an amoeba... She was really excited and euphoric to be excelling with her creativity. No one else in the class thought of as many animal dances as she did.” Díes found out later that the child required a tutor, and was behind her classmates in academics. “I have heard teachers talk about how different ‘intelligences’ reach different kids,” Díes continues, “it was just great to see it firsthand!”

Maypoles, Pig-heads, and Lullabies: Más About Disc Two

The Spanish side of the album contains a reprise of the “core” songs of Fiesta Mexicana with Spanish versions of the narratives, also spoken by Juan Díes. Some of the instrumental songs are different. For instance, the side opens with “Pool Keken” (“Pig-head”) a Mayan processional march from Yucatan. It features a parade of all the instruments in orchestral succession. The Aztec dance is now “La Danza del Sol” (The Dance of the Sun), another piece that the ensemble uses to teach about the concept of themes and variations in music and dance. In place of the marimba tune from Chiapas we now find “Los Matlachines de Hidalgo,” a fiddle tune used for a Maypole-type dance by the Matlachines, an indigenous group of northern Mexico. The album closes with another bonus track: “Viñuete,” a spiritual lullaby “to help infants ascend to heaven,” written in a traditional Huasteca style by music director Víctor Pichardo and performed by his son Zacbé Pichardo on solo harp.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

COM: For all those i care about

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ENV: Partula faba

Zoo fights to save snail colony

The last-known colony of a species of tree snail decimated by 'cannibal snails' has been entrusted to Bristol Zoo.

The centimetre-long Partula faba snails, which are extinct in the wild, hail from Raiatea in French Polynesia.

The zoo hopes to save the species, which is also threatened by invasive plants in its native habitat.

Its climate-controlled room is the only place in the world where the snails, which number 88, can be found.

The group has produced 15 young, with the smallest only 2mm long.

'Incredibly endangered'

The zoo has added to its own colony of Partula faba with snails given to it by Durrell Wildlife Trust and Imperial College London. The last delivery of snails was taken by the zoo in February.

A spokesman said it was a "significant boost" in the fight to save the species.

Keeper Grier Ewins said: "Tree snails are incredibly endangered, with Partula faba being one of the most endangered of them all - they really are on the edge of survival."

Invasive snails that were introduced to the French Polynesian islands in the 1970s decimated the tree snails.

Between the mid 1970s and mid 1990s, an estimated 80% of tree snail species were lost.

Loss of habitat, due to aggressively spreading plants such as the South American velvet tree, is also affecting wildlife on the islands.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

COM: Shame on national news services

journalistic editing, spelling, grammar and linguistic skills are at an all-time low as far as i'm concerned . . . and to think ABC is laying off 20 percent of its workforce . . .

thank you ABC for these:

Koenig's "Growing Pains" co-star, Tracey Gold, has also whethered the ups and downs of Hollywood. Gold rocketed to teen stardom after being cast as Carol Seaver in the series.


Moncayo fought her attacker, elbowing hard him in the nose. The shot made her assailant pause, allowing her to get out of his grasp and run away.

and i love this gem from CNN:

" . . . reimbursing transportation costs for parents whose end their children to parochial schools."

and here's a couple front page headlines from CBS:

"Is Ron Paul Neck in Neck With Obama in 2012?"

"Expets and Polls Show Increased Concern About Threats of Domestic Terror"

and NBC doesn't want to be outdone:

Taunting has caused an annual debate among college football players, coaches and fans, and last season’s big controversy stemmed from Georgia receiver A.J. Green receiving a 15-year personal foul penalty after he caught a go-ahead touchdown pass late in a game against LSU.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

MSC: World Music News Wire #1

thanks to a generous offer i will now be featuring stories once a week from the World Music News Wire . . . i'll be hosting these here, but i would hope that you'd also give their site a visit, especially to browse their past articles!

Around The World in Three Blocks: The Traditional, Radical Music of the Nation of TriBeCaStan


Nestled in the heart of a bustling urban sprawl, between skyscrapers and shanties, lies a sonic oasis in which the sounds of the Indian sarod meet surf rock, West African kora merges with Appalachian mountain tunes, and Afghani melodies mingle with avant-garde jazz. This is TriBeCaStan, a nation in flux, where tune smugglers and artistic immigrants from all parts of the globe converge to create the “roots music of the future.” “There is a lot of transience in TriBeCaStan,” remarks Minister of Timbre Jeff Greene, co-instigator of the band named after this republic of the mind. “Our borders are porous. We welcome refugees from jazz, rhythmic misfits, and undocumented melodies.”

On their latest album, 5 Star Cave, Greene and co-conspirator John Kruth, a multi-instrumental totalitarian of melody, orchestrate a delicate balance between chaos and peace. Conducting a myriad of traveling troubadours, Kruth and Greene continue their relentless quest to re-imagine the folk music of the world asking things like: What if King Crimson’s bus broke down in the Middle East? Or what if Miles Davis went country?

TriBecastan10_Cover “It’s not that we don’t respect tradition,” says Greene, who hitchhiked across the Sahara at age 17. “We have all the respect in the world for it. But we are not trying to imitate it at all.”

While Greene focuses heavily on tonal colors, combing his vast repository of instruments, Kruth composes melodies inspired by traditional folk forms. Kruth, who has played with iconoclasts like the Violent Femmes, Ornette Coleman, and carnatic mandolin master U. Rajesh, explains, “The songs are ultimately a melodic stew of all my influences from Yugoslavian village music to punk to funk to free jazz and the Beatles. TriBeCaStan radicalizes tradition, whatever its source.”

“People describe our music as cinematic,” says Greene, who recently returned from a music research trip to Central Asia. “We conjure auditory impressions of the interior landscapes of our minds.”

Located at the crossroads of the international music scene, TriBeCaStan is host to a slew of likeminded musical migrants who travel widely, but make a point to stop by and throw themselves into this complex cultural moshpit. Together, this array of artists and timbres, spanning nearly every continent, combines their diversity of talents to produce a cosmopolitan curry of audible flavors.

Veteran jazz trombonist Steve Turre, who appeared on TriBeCaStan’s first disc, Strange Cousin, returns again, adding Latin-tinged and bluesy horn lines as well as conch shells to several tracks. Adding his trademark organ sound to the mix, Blood Sweat and Tears founder Al Kooper, famous for his work with Dylan, Hendrix and the Stones, makes a guest appearance on two songs. Premier jazz tabla player Badal Roy, known for his grooves with Miles Davis, Alice Coltrane, and John McLaughlin, brought his exotic rhythms to a handful of TriBeCaStan tunes. Swinging down from the north, Samantha Parton lends her trademark Be Good Tanyas Canadian folk-soul vocal stylings on a pair of tracks. Kenny Margolis, of the eclectic rockers Cracker, scrubs a zydeco rub board and uses his accordion to squeeze out a Cajun melody on “A New Foot.” Mike DuClos plays a series of funky rhythmic bass lines, are reminiscent at times of Sly Stone’s bass man Larry Graham and Miles’ electric band. Charlie Burnham, violinist with James “Blood” Ulmer’s Odyssey, shared his cutting-edge fiddle on everything from swing arrangements and funk numbers to an Afghani folk song, while Sufi percussionist Ibrahim Gonzalez and drummer/percussionist Todd Isler (who has lately been driving Phish bassist Mike Gordon’s band) provided rhythmic intensity throughout the recording. Dean Bowman, known for his vocal work in John Scolfield’s Ray Charles Review and work with Elliott Sharp and Gary Lucas, contributes vocals on “Bamako to Malibu.” Hara Garacci, who just happened by the studio one day, spontaneously laid down a gypsy guitar track on “Dizzy in the Dunes.”

Leading the listener on this sojourn across temporal and geographic spaces is “When Tito had Two Legs.” “It’s like if the Ventures went surfing in the Adriatic or if James Bond was chasing Communist spies through the streets of Zagreb in his Aston Martin,” Kruth explains. Evoking the sounds of Eastern Europe, this track features Croatia’s three-time cimbalom champion Gordana Evacic’s shimmering licks atop a rock-solid rhythmic bed of uptempo spunk.

Next is a psychedelic folk-rock jaunt called “Stoned Baby,” which was inspired by a trip to India. “I was in Chennai,” Kruth recalls, “when I saw mothers with their babies begging on the streets for money. I couldn’t figure out why the infants weren’t crying in the intense heat. The children, I later learned, were knocked out cold, because their mothers had put a bit of dope in their milk!” When Kruth returned to the U.S., tabla master Badal Roy confirmed this bizarre witnessing when he heard the title of the song without explanation, simply blurting, “You have been to India!” Floating over a sultry funk groove infused with Roy’s tabla textures, one can hear the crying of the babies in Charlie Burnham’s wah-wah violin wails and Samantha Parton’s haunting vocal refrain.

Illustrating the cross-cultural spiritual syncretism that occurs in TriBeCaStan, “He Hears the Ants,” plays with Indonesian Gamelan forms and Indian instruments within an Arabic rhythmic cycle of ten, while making reference to Allah. “It’s a sort of tone poem, a mood piece,” Greene said. “Our friend Bachir Attar of the Master Musicians of Jajouka was waxing poetic about his love for Allah one day,” Kruth recalled. “He said, 'Allah knows all, sees all, hears all – he even hears the ants.'” Pensive and meditative, the song features Kruth’s lush Indian flute solo among plucked violin accents and the metallic timbres of Asian gongs and a Caribbean steel drum.

Connecting California’s coast to the desert of West Africa, “From Bamako to Malibu” is reminiscent of an Ali Farka Toure-style polyrhythmic blues, but features added layers of international imagery. Over a 6/8 Malian rhythm, the African yodeling of guest artist Dean Bowman weaves in between trombone riffs, marimba, and metallic thumb piano patterns. “One day in the middle of Manhattan, I was walking down the street plunking out a melody on my African kalimba with my thumbs,” says Kruth, recalling the tune’s inspiration. “I noticed that everyone else was furiously using their thumbs, but to send text messages.” Feeling out of place (and possibly out of time) with the rest of the world, Kruth was thankful; feeling at home in this cultural rift.

TriBeCaStan is a place that seems to lie just beyond the borders of our world in an imaginative sonic dimension, a place of creative convergences, where ancient traditions from Afghanistan to Africa and Eastern Europe meet modernity. With a sensitive and energetic explosion of color, TriBeCaStan splatters their canvas with a cosmopolitan hue of funky future folk. Their artistic flourishes combine to form the quirky contemporary gallery that comprises their latest album. As veteran engineer Gene Paul quipped, “TriBeCaStan’s music is like a trip around the world in three blocks.” 5 Star Cave is filled with jams that not only span the globe but reach into deep space.

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