Two Big Bend Nature Festivals
by Ro Wauer
If any of my readers are thinking about spending a few days in the Texas Big Bend Country this year, there is no better time that during the two upcoming nature festivals in the Davis Mountains and in Big Bend National Park. Both festivals will feature super field trips and a number of presentations on the area's principal natural resources. For those of you who have been looking for a reason to go west, now is the time!
The first of the two festivals is the Davis Mountain's Hummingbird and Nature Festival, scheduled August 16 to 20. WildBird magazine has rated this festival as one of the top Texas bird festivals. The total festival cost is $85, and participation is limited to 150 people. With several field trip options, none are crowded and uncomfortable, and each has been very productive in previous years. This festival has earned a marvelous reputation because of the abundance of hummingbirds found each year; some years as many as 14 species are recorded.
Dr. Peter Scott will be this year's keynote speaker who will talk about hummingbirds and their diet; Peter did considerable research on Lucifer’s hummingbirds in the Big Bend. Other speakers will include John O'Neal, a well known bird artist, and yours truly who will present a program titled "Butterflies 101," and also lead butterfly field trips and do a book-signing for my new book of "Finding Texas Butterflies." The coordinators have added butterflies as a major attraction this year because of the numerous Davis Mountains specialty butterflies, those that cannot or are rarely found anywhere else in the United States.
The Big Bend Nature Festival is scheduled for September 14 to 17, and headquartered out of Study Butte, adjacent to Big Bend National Park. Most of the field trips are scheduled for the park. They include those on the birds of the Chisos Mountains, Big Bend's reptiles and amphibians, and the butterflies and plants. Additional tours will include those on Big Bend's archeology, geology, and dinosaurs. And there are even a tour to the Villa de la Mina Mine and an evening astronomy presentation.
Total cost for adults is $85 ($50 for children 12 years old and under) that covers all tours, talks, opening evening barbeque and presentation, and a Saturday night banquet at Terlingua's Starlight Theater. My Thursday evening talk, "Big Bend Superlatives," will cover the Big Bend birds, butterflies, and other specialty wildlife species. There will be additional charges only for the geology jeep tour or entrance to Big Bend National Park and the Barton Warnock Environmental Center. The variety of activities available at this festival is amazing, and they will offer participants a marvelous introduction to the Big Bend Country.
Since these festivals are scheduled in late summer and early fall, weather is always in question. But the hottest days in the Big Bend Region are in May and June, and by July through September daytime temperatures average in the mid-80s and nights can be cool enough to require a light jacket. But one should always be prepared for warm and cool temperatures. After all, this is Texas!
Additional information on the Davis Mountains Festival is available from Melissa Brady at firstname.lastname@example.org or 432-364-2499 at the Chihuahuan Desert Research Center near Ft. Davis, and for the Big Bend Festival from Sarah Bourbon at email@example.com or 432-371-2427 at Terlingua.
It constantly amazes me when Texans, who have lived in the state all their lives, tell me they have never been to the Big Bend. Yet, folks from all the surrounding state, as well as those from places even further away, have discovered the Big Bend. There is nothing like the present to take advantage of this marvelous piece of Texas!