The title pretty much says it all. Naturalist's Big Bend: An Introduction to the Trees and Shrubs, Wildflowers, Cacti, Mammals, Birds, Reptiles and Amphibians, Fish, and Insects by Roland H. Wauer is a great model of the kind of book you will find in National Park Service bookstores. It provides a history of Big Bend National Park and identifies many of the plants and animals in the park - with hints where to find them. It will be very helpful to have read when I finally make it to the park.
The surprise here is that I grew up in West Texas and never went to Big Bend. The distances in that region are vast, but that really is not a good excuse. I should have made an effort as an adult to go before now. I still don't have a plan to get there, but I am thinking of it more and more. There is so much there to see, as the author tells us.
In the chapter on fish, there is a great story about the saving of the only population of Big Bend Gambusia on the planet. I have heard the story before about how the fish were all captured and moved into a safe pool until their own pond could be cleared of invading species. I was happy to read Wauer's account, which included a bit about his role.
There are many birds and wildflowers, as well as cacti, reptiles, and insects in Big Bend. Wauer's observations make the litanies of plant and animal species enjoyable.
You may notice if you read this blog that I have been highlighting books from the University of Texas Press recently. This book is from the rival Texas A & M University Press. It appears they both have a tradition of publishing useful natural history titles. I need to retire so I can read more of them and travel to some of the great parks described.
Wauer, Roland H. Naturalist's Big Bend: An Introduction to the Trees and Shrubs, Wildflowers, Cacti, Mammals, Birds, Reptiles and Amphibians, Fish, and Insects. Texas A & M University Press, 1980, 1973. 149p. ISBN 0890960704.