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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.

Pics & Proverbs 2019

Prairie Notes #157
January 1, 2020

01) Pics & Proverbs 2019

02) Your MEMBERSHIP Matters

03) New Species - December 2019

04) MM&WW HIke the HIlls is TODAY

05) Videos of the Year 2019

06) Prairie Proverb - Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson



01) Pics & Proverbs 2019


With Tandy Hills more or less at rest, January is a good time to review and reflect on the past year via 2019's Prairie Proverbs and a few of my favorite pics from each of the past 12 issues of Prairie Notes. 


2019 quotations included a quirky mix naturalists, artists, scientists and environmentalists from the distant past to the recently deceased, artists, poets, musicians and philosophers. Each quote had a particular fit for the issue in which quoted. As usual, there were a few surprises. (I'm especially fond of UN Secretary, U. Thant in #148.)


Herewith, Prairie Proverbs I - XII from 2019, with photos of the quoted authors and select pics from the same issue. Thanks for reading and for your continued support!






> Prairie Notes #145, (PIcs & Proverbs 2018) January 1, 2019



"The name, given to the month of 'January', is derived from the ancient Roman name 'Janus' who presided over the gate to the new year. Janus is symbolized by an image of a face that looks forwards and backwards at the same time. This symbolism is associated with the month as the start of a new year which brings new opportunities. It is the time to reflect on events of the previous year.”


-Wikipedia and other sources


A striking late December 2018 sunset.


Sac Fungi (Genus Cerebella), one of the first new species ID'd in 2019. (photo by Michelle Villafranca)

January 5th


Prairie Notes #146, (Prelude to the Beginning of Spring) February 1, 2019



"Instructions for living a life:

Pay attention.

Be astonished.
Tell about it."

Mary Oliver, poet and observer of the intricate beauty of the natural world, died on January 17, 2019 at age 83. The poem is from her 2008 book, Red Bird.


Manly Men & Wild Women signing up for the hike.


Manly Men & Wild Women taking a break after topping a hill on January 1, 2019.


A Harris's Sparrow was another new species in early 2019.

Southern Leopard Frog, new species in 2019.

February 21st


Prairie Notes #147, (The Sensuous Prairie) March 1, 2019



“Heather, this tiny purple flower from the moors, has dined upon my heart and now it grows within her….”


- A great example of anthropomorphism, from the book, The Flame and the Flower—by Midwestern homemaker Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. Considered the first modern “bodice ripper”, the book was published in paperback, after having been rejected by multiple hardback publishers. By 1977, it had sold 2,580,000 copies.



Trout Lily magic, 2019


Ground Plum (Astragalus crassicarpus) is one of the first brightly colored spring wildflowers.


A Gulf Coast Toad waiting for spring in its cozy burrow.



Prairie Notes #148, (Catching the Prairie Wind) April 1, 2019



"May there be only peaceful and cheerful Earth Days to come for our beautiful Spaceship Earth as it continues to spin and circle in frigid space with its warm and fragile cargo of animate life."


UN Secretary, U Thant, 1909 - 1974, after signing a proclamation supporting Earth Day in 1971.


An early spring indicator is Creek Plum.


The uncanny beauty of Purple Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja purpurea) can take your breath away.


A handful of seeds form a Big Root Cymopterus (Cymopterus macrorhizus). This early spring plant is easy to miss, at 3 - 5" tall.

April 15th


Prairie Notes #149 (Prairie Treasure Chest) May 1, 2019



"The natural world is not just a nice place to have, it fundamentally matters to each and every one of us."


Sir David Attenborough, from his stirring speech at the London premiere of the 2019, nature docu-series, Our Planet


The trail is calling on the edge of the Iconic Meadow.


Prairie Celestial (Nemastylis geminiflora) lives up to its name.


A trio of Skippers resting on Wild Hyacinth (Camassia scilloids) at days end.


A Western Kingbird feasting on a bounty of spring pollinators.



Prairie Notes #150, (National Prairie Day), June 1, 2019



“Tandy Hills is a refuge for all of these species, even the little tiny ones just waiting for us to appreciate them!”


Sam Kieschnick, Texas Parks & Wildlife Urban Biologist, after observing 362 species in one evening at Tandy Hills on April 29, 2019


No, it's not a field full of Lucky Charms. It's the Iconic Meadow at Tandy Hills.


One of the highlights of 2019 were multiple sightings of Eastern Bluebirds at Tandy Hills. (photo by Gordon Henry)


All previous records were broken for a Tandy Hills Facebook post on May 18.


Dramatic new species for 2019: Green Oak-Slug Moth (Euclea incisa)ID and photo by Annika Lindqvist.


Pink-tinted Yucca was an uncommon find in 2019.



Prairie Notes #151 (A Menagerie of Prairie FLora???) July 1, 2019



“My wish is to stay always like this, living quietly in a corner of nature.”


- Claude Monet, French Impressionist painter, 1840 - 1926


If Claude Monet had visited Tandy Hills, he may have chosen to paint this scene of Basketflowers.


Four-spotted Palpita Moth (Palpita quadristigmalis) photo by Sam Kieschnick


Powdered Dancer Damselfly


A 4” giant and mysterious, Walnut Sphinx Moth (Amorpha juglandid) blew into Tandy Hills.

July 10th


Prairie Notes #152, (Damsels & Dragons) August 1, 2019



“The student who goes afield armed with opera-glass will not only add more to our knowledge than he who goes armed with a gun, but will gain for himself a fund of enthusiasm and a lasting store of pleasant memories.”


- Florence Merriam Bailey, 1863 - 1948, American ornithologist & nature writer who wrote the first bird field guide in the modern tradition, Birds Through an Opera-Glass (1890). She also played a key role in the creation of, The Lacey Act (1900) which helped stop the slaughter of birds for the decoration of ladies hats. She recently received a delayed obituary in the New York Times:


Texas Bluebells flourishing in late June.  


Halloween Pennant Dragobfly (Celithemis eponina) was a new species recorded in July.


Gay Feather showing the less common white variation.

August 12th


Prairie Notes #153, (Eryn-A-Go-Go) September 1, 2019



"... while I know the standard claim is that Yosemite, Niagara Falls and the Upper Yellowstone, and the like afford the greatest shows, I am not so sure but the prairies and the plains, while less stunning at first sight, last longer, fill the aesthetic sense fuller, precede all the rest, and make North America's characteristic landscape."


- Walt Whitman, (1819 - 1892), from Specimen Days (!879)


Eryngo (Eryngium leavenworthiicomes in an endless array of color combinations.


Snow on the Prairie swaying in the Spetember sunset.


Green Lynx Spiders use the silk to trap and eat insects.

September 24th



Prairie Notes #154 (All Things Small & Smaller) October 1, 2019



"You may not believe it but, everything that exists has some purpose . . . even this little pebble must serve some purpose . . . because if it's useless then, everything is useless . . . even the stars in the sky."


Il Matto (Richard Basehart) telling Gelsomina (Giulietta Masina), the Parable of the Pebble. From the film, La Strada, 1954, Federico Fellini


Cardinal Jumping Spider hiding out on a Maximillian Sunflower. This critter was less than 1/2" long.


Oak Gall Wasp (Belonocnema treatae). The 1/4" diameter galls are attached to Live Oak leaves. (photo by Don Young) NOTE: Ink made
from oak galls was used in the pens of Shakespeare, Beethoven, Linnaeus, Galileo and the Founding Fathers.


Giant Blue Sage (Salvia azurea) looking spectacular despite the drought.


Small is beautiful: Mottled Tortoise Beetle (Deloyala guttata) is only 5mm long.

October 20th


Prairie Notes #155, ('Tween Times) November 1, 2019



“My feet took a walk in heavenly grass.

All day while the sky shone clear as glass.

My feet took a walk in heavenly grass,

All night while the lonesome stars rolled past.

Then my feet come down to walk on earth,

And my mother cried when she give me birth.

Now my feet walk far and my feet walk fast,

But they still got an itch for heavenly grass.

But they still got an itch for heavenly grass.”


- Tennessee Williams*, from the 1942 poem, Heavenly Grass. The poem was also part of a song cycle composed in 1946 by, Paul Bowles, titled, Blue Mountain Ballads


Into the mystic at Tandy Hills on November 29th

A female, Obscure Bird Grasshopper, is one of the largest of the genus. This one was about 4.5" long with extra long wings.


Monarchs were more plentiful in 2019.


Late Purple Asters (Symphyotrichum patens) wishing us a cheerful goodbye until next year.



Prairie Notes #144, (Rear View Mirror) December 1, 2018



"Goddamnit, we've got to get on this environment story."


- Walter Cronkite, angrily addressing the CBS Evening News team on New Years Day, 1970. The fruit of his frustration was a new CBS News series titled, Can the World Be Saved? It aired for an unprecedented ten years premiering the day before the first Earth Day in 1970, and won the first Emmy Award for CBS News.


A dramatic discovery of a, Bois d'arc tree with a massive 120" circumference was indeed a high point of 2019.


A few days after Thanksgiving, I was greeted by this arresting Red Oak grove as I came out of a Cedar forest.


Great Plains Ladies Tresses Orchid (Spiranthes magnicamporum). A litttle plant with a big name and bigger aroma.


Turkey Vultures know the meaning of joy.


02) Your MEMBERSHIP Matters


2019 was another productive year for Friends of Tandy Hills and 2020 looks to be a watershed year. We hope these accomplishments will inspire you to make a donation today:


> iNaturalst observations at Tandy HIlls increased by 200 new species
> Manly Men Wild Women Hike, Trout Lily Walk, PrairieSky / StarParty & Facebook page introduced hundreds of new people to Tandy Hills
> Prairie Posse brought volunteers restored key sections of Tandy Hills
> Our outdoor education program, Kids on the Prairie (KOP), notched year #9 hosting or sponsoring outdoor education field trips

> North TX Giving Day donations exceeded those of 2018

> Friends of Tandy Hills partered with Amon Carter Museum, Native Plant Society of Texas, Texas Parks & Wildlife, Forest School and Cross Timbers Master Naturalsts in 2019


For 2020 FOTHNA has specific goals for improving the trails, restoring prairie pockets in key locations and improved signage. You can show your support for these and other initiatives with a 2020 Membership donation. Go HERE to become a Friend of Tandy Hills:


> > > FYI - Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting Tandy Hills.


03) New Species - December

There were 3 new species ID'd in December 2019 bringing the year end total to 1262 species. All are fungi and all by Don Young. The lack of blooming things helps oddities like these stand out.

Texas Polyporus (nocutis texana)

Dyeball (Pisolithus arhizus)

Hoof Fungus (Fomes fomentarius)

04) MM&WW Hike the Hills is TODAY

Baby it's going to be cold outside today but don't let that keep you from participating in the 10th annual Manly Men Wild Women Hike the Hills on New Years Day. Get your details here:



05) Videos of the Year

If you prefer moving pictures, eight short videos showing the amazing diversity and wonderment of Tandy Hills were recorded throughout 2019: Click on each image below or access all of them from this page:

Toast & Jam_May 29th

Windy Prairie_April 28th

Coneflower Meadow_May 21st

Iconic Meadow_May 12th

Heavy Traffic_June 13th

After the Rain_June 29th

Autumn Oaks Turning_November 19th

Turkey Vulture Soaring_November 27th

06) Prairie Proverb - Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson

"There are more than 200 million insects for every human being living on the planet today. As you sit reading this sentence, between 1 quadrillion and 10 quadrillion insects are shuffling and crawling and flapping around on the planet, outnumbering the grains of sand on all the world’s beaches. Like it or not, they have you surrounded, because Earth is the planet of the insects."

Anne Sverdrup-Thygesonprofessor of conservation biology at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and author of, Buzz - Sting - Bite: Why We Need Insects

Photo by, Mattias Ahim for Sveriges Radio

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.