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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.

Duty Calls - VOTE the Environment

Prairie Notes #167
November 1, 2020

01) Duty Calls - VOTE the Environment
02) Field Report - October
04) New Species - October
05) Prairie Posse Notes
06) PrairieSky / StarParty News
07) Video Library Updated
08) Responsible Nature Photography
09) Front Page News
10) Open Space Survey
11) The Iconic Meadow w/ Music
12) Prairie Proverb - Yvon Chouinard

01) Duty Calls - VOTE the Environment


There is nothing more important to report this month than voting for a new slate of elected officials. You know what to do and what the stakes are. I encourage you strongly to make your voice heard on November 3rd by voting for the men and women who will make major decisions about planet Earth and its inhabitants. 





02) Field Report - October


October was a month of extremes at Tandy Hills. Truly fall-ish weather finally kicked-in about mid-October though it remained dry. That finally changed with some much-needed rain. But the big weather factoid for October was the 60 degree change from October 11th through the 27th. That makes acclimation rather challenging for most people. Not sure about the Tandy Hills flora and fauna. Things were slowing down anyway. I saw fewer insects than usual, however, the flora was about typical for October with a couple of standouts. Check it out . . .


It really happened.

FW Park & Rec, Trades Dept. replaced the old, broken sign with this new one, including updated verbiage.

Great Plains Ladies Tresses are back for a limited time.

The aroma will make you swoon, but you have to find them first.

Late Purple Asters (Symphyotrichum patens) are a joy to behold.


Prairie False Willow (Baccharis texana) becomes eye-catching in the fall.

Prairie False Willow is hard to miss in October.

This dense bouquet of Heath Aster is about the size of your little finger.


2020 was a great year for Maximilian Sunflowers.

October 30 from atop the Hillock. Perfect fall weather for hiking.

Red, Sumac, Little Bluestem, Stiff-leaved Goldenrod, False Gaura & Maximilian Sunflowers define the fall prairie.


Late Purple Asters and Maximillian Sunflowers team up nicely.

October 29 and the bluestem grasses are looking fine.

What kind of critter lives under the silky threads on this leaf?


October 30th sunset with lots of Bluestem and blue skies.


03) NPSOT & FOTHNA Connections


The Native Plant Society of Texas and Friends of Tandy Hills crossed paths more than usual in October. NPSOT celebrated their 40th Anniversary in October with a weeklong schedule of events. On the final night of the virtual event, yours truly was accepted the, 2020 Digital Media Award for Prairie Notes.


Additionally, the Fall edition of the NPOST magazine featured a reprint of, The Magical Moths of Tandy Hills, from Prairie Notes #164. I am blown away by these honors and humbly send out a BIG thank you to NPSOT President, Kim Conrow, website/magazine Editor, Susan Austin and the entire NPSOT awards committe.




04) New Species - October


We had only a modest increase in new species during October, but we did add a couple of stand-outs including, a new snake species and a couple of wasps bringing the new total to 1410. See them all at the iNat website HERE:


Golden-reined Digger Wasp (Sphex habenus) _DY

Crambid Snout Moth (Genus Sitochroa)_brentano

Plain-bellied Watersnake (Nerodia erythrogaster)_achipps

Oak Anthracnose (Apiognomonia errabunda)_Bob

Oak Gall Wasp (Zopheroteras guttatum)_Bob

Ichneumonid Wasps (Tribe Ichneumonini)_DY


Golden-reined Digger Wasp (Sphex habenus), photo by, DY


Plain-bellied Watersnake (Nerodia erythrogaster), photo by, achipps


05) Prairie Posse Notes


The east end of The Iconic Meadow was swept clean of invasive species on October 17 by a very hard working group of 11 volunteers. It hasn't looked this good in years and is ready for spring wildflowers. The work of brush cutting, stump treating with herbicide and dragging brush to curb is backbreaking and tedious but essential to prairie management. There are also wasps nests and poison ivy to watch for. These folks earned their tacos and beer.


We were also assisted by a team from Fielder Church in Arlington led by, Meghan Parker. Three adults and four small children picked up 4 large bags of trash along the main trail including, confetti and other trash left by commercial photographers


After all this demanding work by hundreds of volunteers, over many years, you can see why we bristle when visitirs do not heed the Leave No Trace rule. Stay on trail or on the easement and you can get great photos.


Abbey Storm


Nidia Benavides & Mireya Tinoso (photo by Greg Hughes)


Joseph Lippert (photo by Greg Highes)


Debora Young


Raul Perez


Paul Roach, Shannon Wagner and Sara Barton: aka: Pure Prairie League

Valerie & Wesley Rogers (photo by Greg Hughes)

That's a big ol' pile of brush.

06) PrairieSky / StarParty News


As usual, FW Astronomical Society rep, Pam Kloepfer, has your sky watch message for November:


November announces the end of Daylight Savings Time, so if you think it got dark early before this….the sun will now be setting around 5:30 PM! You can turn your gaze to the sky early in the evening to view the visible planets, but do not linger too long. Jupiter and Saturn continue their march westward and by month’s end, will be setting by 9 PM. Bright Mars however, will be visible all night! Keep an eye on the stars of the Summer Triangle. As they head west, the triangle spreads out enormously across the western sky. Cygnus the Swan will look like he is diving into the horizon. Overhead will be the great circumpolar constellation Cassiopeia. Look for the giant W. Andromeda and Perseus are two constellations that are near by. There are several online downloadable sky maps that you can search for to help you identify these constellations, as well as numerous cell phone apps. Also remember that binoculars are a wonderful tool to use to scan the sky! You will see many more stars than just what you see with your own eyes. 


We of the Fort Worth Astronomical Society have sorely missed showing you the night sky at our monthly star parties at Tandy Hills! Even though we may “plan” dates for star parties in 2021, it will depend on what the regulations are for public gatherings at those times. 

Stay safe everyone, and keep looking up!

07) Video Library Updated


In the interest of documentation and a touch of nostalgia, I have recently uploaded a batch of videos from past Prairie Fests including, the first event in 2006. These include speeches by local elected officials, music by Brave Combo and FW Scottish Pipes & Drums and others. Watch for an extra cool vid from 2010 produced by, Art & Seek and KERA-TV. Those were the days my friends!


There is also a full video of the Broadcast Hill land acquisition celebration featuring speeches by Kelly Allen Gray and other city officials as well as, Suzanne Tuttle, Jim Marshall and Sam Kieschnick. Check out these new vids and others on the website HERE:



08) Nature Photography Guidelines

"It may be a rhetorical question, but as outdoor photographers who admire the wide variety of beautiful landscapes in Texas, we need to ask ourselves: Is it possible that we can actually be a liability to those same landscapes that we cherish? Is it possible that we could be on the way toward loving them to death?"

That quote by author, Earl Nottingham, from his article in the October 2020 issue of, Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazineis required reading for all commercial photographers and other visitors to Tandy HIlls. I don't consider the current, runaway problems at Tandy Hills due to, "nature photography", but the same rules apply. The article lists 7 Core Principles, as developed by the international organization, Nature First - The Alliance for Responsible Nature Photography. The bottom line is, Leave No Trace.


Here is a LINK to the full article:…/o…/scout11_photography/index.phtml


Photo by Earl Nottingham for TPWD


09) Front Page News


The increasing vandalism plaguing Tandy Hills was front page news in the October 8th edition of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Reporter, Haley Samsel and videographer, Yffy Yossifer, visited Tandy Hills and interviewd Don Young for print and video reports. The report focuses on the current tension between commercial and non-commercial photographers and advocates for protecting the natural area.


The increasing use of oversized props, fireworks, glitter, confetti, balloons and too many people going off-trail, is a real threat to Tandy Hills and one that is being addressed by FOTHNA. On her visit here, the videographer got "lucky" and filmed a group of dirt-bikers entering the park, making an alarming yet fitting end to the video report.


Read article HERE:


Video link HERE:



10) Open Space Survey


The newly created, Fort Worth Open Space Committee, the same one that purchased Broadcast Hill with help from Friends of Tandy Hills, wants your opinion about preserving additional open land in Fort Worth. This brief survey is very important. Please take a few minutes to complete.



11) The Iconic Meadow w/ Music


This was my entry in the Native Plant Society of Texas, 2020 video contest. I re-edited my video from 2019 and added a rousinng waltz by, Johann Strauss. For best results turn the sound up and and open full screen.


IMPORTANTLY . . . this is possibly my best argument for full protection of the Tandy Hills, View Street meadows. This meadow is a one-of-a-kind. It cannot be replaced. It would be a tragedy if it is not fully protected from trampling for commercial gain. Link HERE:



12) Prairie Proverb


"Vote the A_ _holes Out"


- Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia Clothing Company, had that (unedited) message stitched discretely on tags of their 2020 line of organic Stand-Up Shorts. Read more about that HERE.





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.