Recently we had a delightful field trip (visit) to the Trinity River Audubon Center located just 8 minutes south of downtown Dallas off of I-45. The center is a nature center in the Great Trinity Forest, a large urban open space park in Dallas, Texas. This urban park is located within the Texas Blackland Prairies ecoregion. Habitats found within the park include bottomland hardwood forest, riparian zones, wetlands, open water ponds, grasslands and the Trinity River itself.
During the approximately 3 hours spent exploring the various trails and photographing a few birds, we encountered several elementary aged school groups also on a field trip. I immediately had pleasant flashbacks to my days as an elementary teacher. Following in line behind the center volunteer, with bug nets and observation sheets in hand, the students’ excitement rang throughout the Great Trinity Forest.
The Roseate Spoonbill is a colorful pink and white wading bird with a very distinctive long grayish spoon shaped bill. The Roseate Spoonbill is a resident breeder in South America mostly east of the Andes, and in the coastal regions of the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, the Gulf Coast of the United States and along Florida’s central Atlantic coast.
Roseate Spoonbills are very social and gregarious. They live, breed and travel in colonies. They inhabit marshes, swamps, ponds, and rivers within their range. The feed by wading in shallow water with their bill partially submerged. As a Roseate Spoonbill walks it swings its head back and forth in a sideways motion. When it feels a prey, it snaps its bill closed and pulls the prey out of the water to swallow it. The menu items consist of small fish, shrimp, mollusks, snail, and insects. The Roseate Spoonbill gets its pink color from the various kinds of food it eats.
The Roseate Spoonbill was once threatened by hunting. In the 1800’s the Spoonbill feathers were used in ladies hats and fans. By the early 20th century, the Roseate Spoonbill population had shrunk to only a few dozen nesting pairs in the U.S. due in part to a loss of habitat and pollution. Special protected areas were established in the 1940’s and the Roseate Spoonbills were made a protected species. Since this time the Roseate Spoonbill population has recovered
Lukenbach, Texas, where “Everybody’s somebody in Lukenbach” was established in 1849 by German immigrants. This little Texas Hill Country community has undergone many changes through the years. It once had a population of 494 in 1904, but by the 1960’s, Lukenbach was almost a ghost town. Hondo Crouch, rancher and Texas folklorist along with two partners bought the 9.142 acres known as Lukenbach for $30,000 in 1970. The newspaper ad stated “town – pop.3 – for sale” Lukenbach is an unincorporated community near Fredericksburg, Texas. Downtown Lukenbach consists of a dance hall, the old post office, a working saloon, general store and snack bar.
Today Lukenbach is a gathering place for locals to sing, play music, dance and drink beer. Lukenbach is also visited by many people from all walks of life arriving by car, bus, truck and motorcycle. Lukenbach became a country music venue in 1973 when Jerry Jeff Walker and the Lost Gonzo Band recorded the album Viva Terlingua live in Lukenbach Dancehall. After Hondo Couch’s death four years later, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings memorialized Luckenbach with the song “Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)”.
I recently visited this iconic Texas location while photographing wildflowers in the Hill Country.
I hope this Blog gives you a pictorial representation of life in downtown Lukenbach, Texas on a Friday afternoon..