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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.

Do Look Back

Prairie Notes #132
December 1, 2017

01) Do Look Back
02) Field Report - November
03) Manly Men Wild Women RSVP
04) PrairieSky / StarParty 2017 Schedule
05) Imitation is...
06) Event Reports - November
07) New Scenic Overlook 
08) New Species for Tandy Hills
09) Prairie Proverb

01) Do Look Back

Contrary to the advice of Satchel Paige to NOT looking back (see Prairie Proverb, below), we have a tradition at FOTHNA more akin to the advice of John Dewey ("We learn by doing when we reflect on what we have done.") Reflecting on our accomplishments is also a reminder to supporters of our worthiness AND, to our little band of volunteers, a pat on the back for their positive impact on our world in 2017.

Herewith, I am proud to present this itemized list of our 2017 accomplishments. It denotes the sustained commitment of Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area to restoring, interpreting and raising awareness of our local prairie. Your support is VITAL as we move ahead in 2018.

  • The 8th annual Manly Men Wild Women Hike the Hills drew another large crowd of newcomers on New Years Day

  • Brush Bash #9 brought out the best in our crew of volunteers who cleared the trailhead area

  • Our much-revered outdoor education program, Kids on the Prairie (KOP), notched year #7 hosting or sponsoring seven public and private school field trips

  • The FASH Foundation awarded Friends of Tandy Hills a grant of $2,000 dedicated to KOP

  • PrairieSky / StarParty, a collaboration with FW Astronomical Society, completed Year 2 with a cosmic bang

  • The Tandy Hills iNaturalist Project website page exploded with more observations and species count

  • The FW Chapter of American Institute of Architects announced the  winner of the Tandy Hills Pavilion Design Competition

  • Prairie Posse, a monthly land management program, notched Year 2 with significant improvements including, the trailhead and Barbara's Button Hill

  • Tandy HIlls was honored to be named a Lone Star Legacy Park

  • Friends of Tandy Hills participated oin the national, City Nature Challenge helping the DFW area win 1st place

  • 360 West, that slick, tony magazine, saw fit to feature Tandy Hills in two separate issues in 2017

  • Tandy Hills was added to the Great Texas Wildlife Trail system by Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept.

  • Friends of Tandy Hills helped celebrate, National Prairie Day, a new national holiday

  • AIA-FW and FOTHNA hosted an exhibition of submissions from the Pavilion Design Competition

  • Friends of Tandy Hills helped celebrate the 200th anniversary of nature mystic, Henry David Thoreau

  • Participants in the Botanical Society of America annual conference in FW visited Tandy Hills for a work day/field trip

  • Fort Worth Mayor & City Council and FW Park & Rec Director, Richard Zavala, honored Friends of Tandy Hills recent efforts at a public meeting

  • FOTHNA sponsored, DFW Day of Yoga on the Prairie, at Tandy Hills in our continuing efforts to raise awareness

  • North Texas Giving Day helped raise $1,725 for FOTHNA education and restoration initiatives

  • FW Weekly awarded a Best of 2017 Award for Example of New Architecture to the Tandy Hills Pavilion design by, Dennehy Architects

  • Frost Bank Photo of the Day featured a shot of Tandy Hills by Don Young

  • Twice Upon a Time Storytellers performed The Legend of the Tandy Hills Witchey Tree, at Tandy Hills



The Tandy Hills prairie itself, our raison d'être, had another amazing year, manifesting its bounty of prairie flora and fauna for all to behold and appreciate. Come on in.


02) Field Report - November

The Indian Summer-like days of November made for some memorable saunters and discoveries. There was more going on color-wise than expected. There were also lots of people on the prairie in November. Check out a few of my observations from November.

The amazing Ladies Tresses Orchids continue blooming into late November.

Reminiscent of red oak leaves, Aromatic or Smooth Sumac, adds a bit of fall-ish color to Tandy Hills.

There are a few Possumhaw trees scattered across Tandy Hills.

This cute little Checkered Skipper is one of many moths and butterflies hanging at the hills in November. (see the bug, too?)

November is all about the grass....

...grass and sky.

Tandy Hills acquired two new native trees near the entrance, replacing one lost to a storm last spring. a Red Oak...

...and a Little Elm. Thanks to FW-PARD for getting these planted and watered.

03) Manly Men Wild Women RSVP

January 1, 2018 is a month away, the same day you'll receive the next Prairie Notes. So consider this an aide-to-memorie. Feel free to RSVP. Only for brave demented nature mystics.

04) PrairieSky / StarParty 2018 Schedule

Due to astronomical events beyond our control and in a effort to better entertain and astound you, the 2018 schedule will not always be on the 2nd Saturdays as they have been previously.  The free star-gazing events in cooperation with FW Astronomical Society, will take place on "selected" Saturdays when the night sky is most interesting. The events pick up again on Saturday, March 24, and will continue on April 21, May 19, June 16, July 21, August 18, September 15, October 13 and November 10. Occassional special events can be expected. Mark your calendars.

05) Imitation is...

If, as Colton famously observed, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then, our Kids on the Prairie program is blushing. Commons Ford Prairie and Travis Counrty Audubon Society in Austin teamed up to develop an outdoor education program that mimics our Kids on the Prairie program founded in 2010. They were kind enough to acknowledge us in a recent press release. To that we say....Aw shucks, thank ya'll! From their Press Release:

"The program was developed over the past 2 years and was modeled after the Kids on the Prairie program at Tandy Hills Natural Area in Fort Worth." 

Kids at Commons Ford, Austin Texas

06) Event Reports - November

Friends of Tandy Hills hosted 11 delighted participants of America's Grassland Conference for a 5-hour field trip/information session on November 14. They included educators, land owners, ranchers, land managers, non profit leaders and students who got a good understanding of how FOTHNA works. Volunteers Anne Alderfer, Debora and Don Young led the group on a hearty hike across the hills.

FOTHNA's outdoor education inititaves were a hot topic. Debora Young relates her seasoned experience.

Tandy HIlls volunteer, Anne Alderfer (right), posing on Barbara's Button Hill with with Grassland's Conference participants. 

Dr. Bruce Benz of Texas Wesleyan University delivering a talk at the conference on the 2016 Tandy Hills BioBlitz


On the 11th of November, Twice Upon a Time Storytellers entertained a hearty group of 25 souls with an oral re-telling of The Legend of the Tandy Hills Witchey Tree, and other macabre tales. It was a night to remember.

Peggy & Gene have a way with words.

As someone said, "Magic was everywhere." photo by Laurie Lucas Raulerson


With help from Friends of Tandy Hills volunteers, St. Rita Catholic School and Meadowbrook Elementary School held outdoor learning field trips at Tandy Hills in November. Outdoor education is the core activity of what we do at FOTHNA. Your support helps keep these programs healthy and ongoing.

St. Rita kids getting hands-on. and...

...and noses-on learning.

The St. Rita kids were remarkably well-behaved and curious about nature.

St. Rita Catholic School 6th graders posing with science teacher, Kindra Johnson (l) and FOTHNA vol, Anne Alderfer (r).

Meadowbrook Elementary School 5th graders, under the direction of science teacher, Joshua Grizzelle.

07) New Scenic Overlook

A new scenic overlook has been created on the Hawk Trail with help from Boy Scout, Trey Schomaker. Trey chose Tandy Hills for his Eagle Scout badge project. With help from fellow Scouts and family, a new vista facing northeast is well under way. FOTHNA volunteer, Joseph Lippert and FW-PARD rep, Michelle Villafranca, advised and guided Trey on his project. Early next year a large limestone rock will be placed at the new overlook for your contemplation needs.

08) New Species for Tandy Hills

I'm delighted to report that two new bird species and an insect species were identified at Tandy Hills in November. A group of Eastern Bluebirds was spotted on November 3rd. That same day, a Northern Harrier hawk, was observed, characteristically hovering the open area north of the Hawk Trail. (The Harrier was gone before stunned onlookers got a photo.) Neither species has ever been recorded here. A few days later, Anne Alderfer, while escorting a group of kids on a field trip, spotted a White-tipped Black Moth. 

A not-so-great photo of a pair of Eastern Bluebirds

Northern Harrier hawk, (stock photo from Katy Prairie Conservancy, Wikimedia)

White-tipped Black Moth, photo by Anne Alderfer

09) Prairie Proverb

Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you."

- Satchel Paige, 1906 - 1982, baseball pitcher who became a legend in his own time


Prairie Notes is the official newsletter of Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area. All content by Don Young except where otherwise noted.