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Prairie Notes are monthly photo/journal observations from Tandy Hills Natural Area by Founder/Director, Don Young. They include field reports, flora and fauna sightings, and more, mixed with a scoop of dry humor and a bit of philosophy. They are available free to all who get on the FOTHNA email list.

No Place Like Tandy Hills

Prairie Notes #136
April 1, 2018

 

01) No Place Like Tandy Hills

02) Field Report - March

03) Prairie Helpers

04) Legacy Park Update

05) PrairieSky / Star Party Is Back

06) Notable Events in April

07) Plum Pretty

08) Prairie Proverb

 

 

01) No Place Like Tandy Hills

 

I've never been one to brag about Tandy Hills. - Just kidding. As head cheerleader, I never miss an opportunity to remind you of this amazing natural resource in the heart of the city. My job, each month, is to try and seduce you with words and pictures, to inspire you to walk these amazing hills and see for yourself what nature has wrought. 

 

That job gets easier once April rolls around, when the prairie grass fades to background and wildflowers of many colors burst forth. The sheer beauty and diversity of April never fails to surprise this many-seasoned veteran. Seductive scenes are everwhere you look, such as, right now

 

Hillsides dotted in the heavenly blue blossoms of Prairie Celestial; Hidden grassy coves of Wild Hyacinth; Secret patches of Texas Blue Star; Dew-covered stands of Purple Prairie Indian Paintbrush; Butterflies of many species, bugs, lizards, birds and a few mammals are out in force. The whole scene changes next week as more wildlfowers appear.

 

As you will see in the Field Report below, there really is no place like Tandy Hills, especially in April. So, lace up your red hiking shoes and come on in.

 

 

DY

 

 

 

02) Field Report - March

 

Most wildflowers were blooming at least 2 weeks later than last year. However, by the end of March, lots of rain seems to have helped. I'm also seeing a few species such as Prairie Celestial and Indian Paintbrush in areas not seen in my 20+ years of observation. On a March 31 walk, after 2" of rain, things are really starting to pop. Lots of cool surprises like the, Tersa Sphinx Moth, pictured below.

 


Say goodbye to the mysterious and beautiful, Trout Lily, for 2018.

 

The blurry patterns on their distinctive leaves is hypnotic.

 


Early bloomer, Ground Plum (Astralagus crassicarpus) catches your eye.

 

 


One of the few yellow flowers in March was, Fringed Puccoon (Lithospermum incisum).

 


Purple Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja purpurea) finally bloomed more than 2 weeks later than 2017.

 


Fog-drenched Paintbrush on March 28.

 


One more Paintbrush pic, paired with New Jersy Tea (Ceaenothus herbaceus).

 


This fierce Bumblebee uses his wings to help release the pollen from this Purple Indian Paintbrush.

 


Compassplant leaves are maturing raipdly. Flower heads are not far behind.

 


After 2" of rain in late March, the drainage creeks are singing.

 


Prairie Celestial (Nemastylis geminiflora) is perhaps the most exotic wildflower at Tandy Hills.

 


Also available in extra light blue. Best viewed in morning hours.

 


Wild Hyacinth (Camassia scilloides) is spreading it's range at Tandy Hills.

 


Half opened bud of Wild Hyacinth

 


Tersa Sphinx Moth (Xylophanes tersa)

 


One of the many amazing pollinator species of Tandy Hills.

 

Blue Flax (Linum pratense)

 


Texas Blue Star (Amsonia ciliata var. texana)

 


Blue Star is found in only a few small patches across the Tandy hills.

 


A Yellow Swallowtail feasting on Texas Honeysuckle made my day.

 

 

 

03) Prairie Helpers

 

On March 10th, Friends of Tandy Hills hosted 75 young people from the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Fort Worth for a 2-hour volunteer work day. Led by Upward Bound Project Advisor, Abel Cerros, the enthusiastic bunch of teens helped put a major dent in our Privet problem, hauling off two giant piles of recently cut brush. Many of these kids had never volunteerd before and got a valuable life lesson. FOTHNA vols, Joseph Lippert and Debora & Don Young helped manage the project.

 

 

 

 

 

04) Legacy Park Update

 

The official signage for our well-earned Lone Star Legacy Park award was installed in March. It pairs nicely with our recently installed Great Texas Wildlife Trail sign. These signs represent the hard work of many volunteers over the past 14 years.

 

 

 

05) PrairieSky / StarParty Is Back

 

A new season of monthly star gazing in association with, Fort Worth Astronomical Society, began in March. About 40 people showed up on March 24th,  to check out the action above the hills and learn interesting facts from the astronomers. The public is invited to attend on selected Saturdays, when skywatching is most interesting. Family friendly. No dogs, please. FREE! Next party is April 21st. See full 2018 schedule here: http://www.tandyhills.org/events/prairie-sky-star-party

 

 

 

 

06) Notable Events in April

 

Tarrant County College South Campus is hosting and earth Day Celebration and Bioblitz on April 18. Check out the flier here:

 

 

The North Texas Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists has organized a series of discovery walks in Dallas County during April and May. Learn more at this website: http://public.ntmn.org

 

 

Finally, the The 2018 City Nature Challenge is coming up on April 27 - 30. 65 cities in 17 countries around the world will participate in the event. As you may recall, the Fort Worth-Dallas area was the top preformer in 2017. If you have questions, contact Sam Kieschnick with Texas Parks & Wildlife at, 972-293-3841. Keep an eye on the websites here: 

 

http://citynaturechallenge.org

 

https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/wildlife_diversity/texas_nature_tra...

 

 

07) Plum Pretty

 

Tandy Hills is home to at least 3 species of Plum trees. Experts have not yet reached consensus on the exact species data on the Tandy Hills iNaturalsit project page, but, Creek Plum (Prunus rivularis), American Plum (Prunus americana) and Chickasaw Plum (Prunus angustifloia) all bloom in March. While they all have magnificent blooms, I have observed fruit only on Chickasaw. Here are my photos of the three.

 


Creek Plum grows near the trailhead. It's more like a bush, less than 4' tall.

 


Creek Plum blooms, up close.

 


American Plum, is a large tree, over 6' tall, and one of the first spring bloomers.

 


American Plum blooms up close.

 


Chickasaw Plum, grows near Outdoor Classroom #1. The branches have distinctive thorns.

 


Chickasaw is the only one of the three plums to bear fruit.

 

 

07) Prairie Proverb

 

The discovery of spring each year, after the winter's hibernation, is a discovery of the universe. This recollected smell of fresh loam in my nostrils is the smell of eternity itself.

 

- Louis J. Halle, 1910 - 1998, U.S. State Dept. official, author, birder and conservationist

 

 

 

 

 

Prairie Notes© is the official newsletter of Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. All content by Don Young except where otherwise noted.

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