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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.

The Eye of Heaven

Prairie Notes: #79
July 1, 2013

1) The Eye of Heaven
2) July Notebook
3) Noteworthy
4) BIrd Note
5) Butterfly Note
6) Prairie Proverb

1) The Eye of Heaven

Sauntering across the Tandy Hills on a hot Summer's day can be lonesome. Good lonesome but, still... With the temperature hovering near 100℉ and the flames of the Sun unmercifully licking down, humans are few and far between at your local prairie. Shakespeare put it thus:

"Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines" *

Yet, here we are. Boots on the ground, camera in hand, water at the ready and Olive the Prairie Dog stalking the wild rabbits and most important, our eyes wide open. What could possibly be of interest out there on such a day, you ask? Will S. might have also remarked, "Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't." **

As it turns out, quite a lot is interesting and colorful out there, at least for now. (see #2 below) Plus, duty calls! A brand new Prairie Notes is my charge and it aims to tempt you away from, your AC, PC and TV, to get you un-plugged and zoned-in to a land of enchantment. The unmerciful "eye" of which Shakespeare alluded will undoubtedly get more so between now and the Autumn Equinox so, make thee haste.

Under the eye of heaven, hidden treasures and solitude await you at Tandy Hills. But don't take my word for it because, "O, how bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man's eyes." ***

*William Shakespeare, Sonnet 18, Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?, 1609
**Hamlet, Act II, Scene II, 1598
***As You Like it, Act V, Scene II, 1599


The eye of heaven shines upon the Tandy Hills.

2) July Field Notebook

The upper elevations of Tandy Hills Natural Area are on the dry side, these days. A few late Spring wildflowers such as American Basketflower, Bee Balm and Bishop's Weed folded early. But further down the slopes, prairie grasses such as, Big, Little and Silver Bluestem, are thick, lush and spring green. The seeps are helping things thrive, including the area around the Outdoor Classroom, that is a palette of perky greens.

June closed out with an unexpected north wind as sturdy, Summer species such as Compass Plant, have started to bloom and colorful surprises, big and small, dot the prairie. See below a few of the treasures that crossed my path last month.

Yellow Basin Sneezeweed (Helenium amarum var. amarum)

Lanceleaf Loosetrife (Lythrum alatum var. lanceolatum)

Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum)

Narrowleaf Indian Breadroot (Pediomelum linearifolium)

Dogweed (Dysodiopsis tagetoides)

Ratany (Krameria lanceolata), also known as, Prairie Sandbur

Texas Bluebells (Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russelianum)

Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum)

3) Noteworthy

Back in March 2013, Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area were honored to receive the 2013 Green Source DFW Environmental Award for Grassroots/Nonprofit. The award included a stunning, 16 lb. glass trophy, a $500. check and this flattering report by Julie Thibodeaux. Sweet.

4) Bird Note

Frequent sightings of Greater Roadrunners at Tandy Hills has had me hoping for a baby roadrunner, also known as a fledge. No pics yet, but according to a neighbors report, the "stork" has landed. The man who lives across from Tandy Hills observed a Roadrunner nest in his backyard. I personally observed the birds shuttling back and forth from the yard to the park.

In early June, the birds left the nest for good. They are often seen in the park and our yard in their ceaseless search for food. No pics yet of the fledge, but here's one of the parents.

Greater Roadrunner: This birds offspring hatched in June, 2013, and now roams the Tandy Hills.

5) Butterfly Note

Large quantities of Swallowtail butterflies have been busily mating for the past few weeks and now it's egg-laying time. Each female deposits about 200 spherical eggs. They fly buoyantly from leaf to leaf depositing the eggs singly on host plants. If you follow closely with your eyes as she lays her egg, you can see the tiny, greenish-colored marvel of nature. I was lucky enough to see this one laid on a tree leaf at Tandy Hills in 2010.

Fresh Eggs: 1 mm sized, Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly egg, laid seconds before this photo was taken at Tandy Hills.

6) Prairie Proverb

"And this, our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything."

William Shakespeare, from, As You Like It, Act II, Scene I, (1599)

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