A Useful Book

Many of us are interested in identifying all the plants and animals at Indian Creek, but up until now, it’s been quite an undertaking.  You needed one identification guide for trees, one for grasses, two or three for birds, etc. etc., and then you had to wade through pages and pages to find the ones that could possibly be on the Edwards Plateau.

Well, now a lot of the information you need (and none of the extraneous stuff) is in one handy little book recently published by Texas A & M Press.  A Naturalist’s Guide to the Texas Hill Country by Mark Gustafson has photos and information on everything from lichen to javelinas to cicadas.

The brief descriptions include things like range and helpful identification tips (Examples: a Texas persimmon’s leaves roll under; elbow bush gets its name from branches that come off at right angles), and are given in ordinary language.  Need to know if that oak is a Lacey oak or a blackjack?  Or if painted buntings are here in winter?  You will find that info in this book.

Due to space constraints, not every possible species is shown.  The emphasis in on species that are most likely to be encountered, whether they are common or unique. But still I found lots of species in this book I have not seen in any of my other field guides.  And it is small enough to actually carry around outside with you while you are looking at the plants and animals.

Another nice feature is the last section of the book, which lists public places where Hill Country nature can be seen, places like Inks Lake and Kickapoo Cavern.

I did find one small mistake, where a Lesser Goldfinch is labeled as a House Finch, but the species description matched the photo, so I think most people could figure that one out.

I think it is an extremely useful book, and I look forward to using it to identify all those similar-looking shrubs and cacti we have!


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