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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 Prairie that Keeps on Giving

Prairie Notes #124
April 1, 2017

01) The Prairie That Keeps On Giving
02) Field Report - March
03) Lone Star Legacy Park Report
04) City Nature Challenge - Texas: REMINDER
05) Lively Panel Discussion
06) 360 West Magazine Likes Tandy Hills
07) Prairie Posse Liberates 2 Iconic Hills
08) Don't Plant Those Seeds!
09) Don't Touch That Butterfly!
10) Prairie Proverb

01) The Prairie That Keeps On Giving

Spring is here and the miracle of prairie wildflowers is well underway. I've written countless worrds to try and describe how beautiful and meaningful Tandy Hills is this time of year. When the place needed attention to push back against various threats, I have coaxed, enticed and even begged you to, come on in. It may have worked. The trails and meadows are well trod nowadays, especially in the spring.

Looking back on past Prairie Notes I see titles comparing Tandy Hills in the spring of 2008 to, "Beethoven's Ninth". The boundless botanical varieties of 2012 inspired, "Everything On It". "Diversity is Thy Name", described 2007 pretty accurately and, "Mojo on the Meadow" in 2010 was my attempt to describe the amazing wildflower show that is often taken for granted.

Don't make that mistake this year. Bring yourself, your family or friends to Tandy Hills to witness the transformation from drab grey-brown to a full palette of spring color. The show is just beginning. Don't miss it.


02) Field Report - March

The march towards wildflower nirvana continued apace in March and will do so through May. Nearly every day a new species appears. The pollinators are working overtime to keep up. It's wild out here. Come on in and saunter around in honor of Henry David Thoreau's bicentennial birth year. Here's a sampling of my March observations.

Texas Paintbrush, uncommon at Tandy Hills, stands out from the crowd of the more common, Purple Paintbrush.

New Jersey Tea, is a late winter/early spring bloomer that aids the late winter pollinators.

On a windy day in early March, Fringed Puccoon, made its presence known. 

Tongue-like leaves of Indian Plantain, make a striking scene in the dead grass.

About the only thing cooler than a photo of a mama Lady Beetle laying her eggs, is a live video of same:

Rarely seen, Ground Cherry, always gets my attention.

The always fetching, Blue-eyed Grass, proves that small is beautiful, if sometimes mis-named.

Creek Plum, greets hikers and pollinators at the trailhead, in mid-March.
Watch it come alive in this vdeo:

Fringed Bluestar, is one of the half dozen or so, "true blues, of the spring prairie.

Vivid yellow, Bigfruit Evening Primrose, delights the eye, especially on an overcast day.

Recent rains revealed the skeleton of a snake, possibly dropped there by a hawk or Crow.

White-lined Sphinx Moth, feasting on Purple Paintbrush, at sunset.

Immature, Trailing Antelopehorn Milkweed seed cluster, and below...

...a fully opened cluster getting symbiotic attention from pollinators.

A durable prairie favorite, Two-leaf Senna.

Chablis Winecup is a prairie star.

Texas Sage, welcoming the pollinators with purple and white carpeted runways.

Young, filligree-like leaf of Wand Milkweed, emerging from a limestone hill.

Prairie Groundsel, may be the highlighter yellow of the prairie.

A Bumblebee busily harvesting pollen from a Purple Paintbrush.

A voracious Buckeye caterpillar feasting on Purple Paintbrush.

Drummond's Skullcap, is a common plant at Tandy Hills but this specimen exhibits "chlorosis".
abnormal reduction or loss of the normal green coloration of leaves of plants,
typically caused by iron deficiency in lime-rich soils, or by disease or lack of light.

Wavy-leaf Thistle about to flower.

There are scenes like this one scattered across the prairie. Most likely the work of a hungry Armadillo.

Dainty Sulphur butterfly, resting upside down on Trailing Antelopehorn Milkweed.

Orange Sulphur butterfly, feeding on New Jersey Tea blossoms, on Barbara's Button Hill. Poetic, no?

East of the Sun: On a lovely eveing in late March, the eastern clouds above Tandy Hills mirrored the sunset, impressionistically.

03) Lone Star Legacy Park Report

Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area representatives, Don & Debora Young and Anne Alderfer, along with Fort Worth PARD, Asst. Superintendent, Jerry McDowell, attended the Lone Star Legacy Park awards ceremony in Las Colinas on March 1st. We were greeted at the door by a beautiful poster describing Tandy Hills. The chunky limestone award, itself, is on display at the PARD offices.

The "Rock" has landed in Fort Worth

Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area (FOTHNA), represented by Don & Debora Young, was honored by the Fort Worth Park & Recreation Advisory Board on March 22nd, for recent volunteer efforts on behalf of Tandy Hills, including the Lone Star Legacy Park Award and the Great Texas Wildlife Trail designation. 

From the founding days of FOTHNA in 2004, our main objective has been to increase public awareness of this amazing and rare green space. I believe we have succeeded, but the work is ongoing. We are humbled by this honor.


l-r: Jim Doherty, Jerry McDowell, Don & Debora Young, Richard Zavala

04) City Nature Challenge - Texas: REMINDER

Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. is sponsoring, City Nature Challenge Texas, (a kind of, mini-bioblitz), April 14 - 18. It's a friendly competition between Dallas/Fort Worth and other metro areas around the state and country to document as many species as possible over a 5 day period. It's citizen science in action. All ages encouraged.

> Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area is participating on Tuesday, April 17, from 4 - 7pm. TP&WD, Urban Biologist, Sam Kieschnick, will be on-site to assist your efforts in recording as many species as possible via iNaturalist. Join us!



More info at these LINKS: 


05) Lively Panel Discussion

That's how Native Prairie Association of Texas - Fort Worth Chapter, describes their April 10th meeting, despite the bone dry-sounding topic: Prairie Management on Public & Private Property in Tarrant County. (That wore me out just tying it!)

A panel of local prairie owners/managers, including Don Young of FOTHNA, will discuss among other things, what motivates people to learn about and save their local natural heritage. I'm honored to be included. DY

Read more here:

06) 360 West Magazine Likes Tandy Hills

Wow, we must be on the map! For the 2nd straight month, 360 West Magazine, mentions Tandy Hills Natural Area in their slick and popular mag. Thanks to publisher, Meda Kessler, for the shout-out. They wrote a nice little blurb about what's happening at Tandy Hills this month in the April 1 issue. Pick up a hardcopy or read online here:{"page":94,"issue_id":395472}

07) Prairie Posse Liberates 2 Iconic Hills

On the 3rd Saturday of each month, the Tandy Hills Prairie Posse meets to manage trails and special sections of the park. On March 18, a small group of hard-working folks gathered with two objectives:

1. Re-seed Hawk Hill (the recently cleared area near the trailhead and Hawk Trail.)
2. Liberate Barbara's Button Hill from infringing woody species before spring blooms on this bio-wonder.

I'm pleased to report: Mission accomplished. Using 12 pounds of native, Sideoats Grama and Little Bluestem seed from Native American Seed, Debora Young led a small group of kids and adults from, Forest School, in carefully reseeding the two acres of Hawk Hill. About three hills east, a group of 7 guys removed a huge amount of invasive trees and shrubs that were shading out the namesake of Barbara's Button Hill, allowing this unique biological wonder to blossom more fully. Big thanks to all who helped.

08) Don't Plant Those Seeds!

General Mills, maker of Cheerios, has gotten some bad press for trying to do a good, if, self-serving deed. In an effort to increase pollinators (their corporate mascot is a bee, get it?), they recently offered free wildflower seeds to the public. Problem is, "The packets Cheerios sent out included seeds for plants deemed invasive in some states and outright banned in others," according to this report:


09) Don't Touch That Butterfly!

Strange but true story though decidedly NOT in Texas. According to a recent New Yourk Times report, British police netted a butterfly killer, and now he may face jail time. The butterfly in question is the rarest butterlfy in the UK known as, Large Blue butterfly. Read the news here:

NY Times

10) Prairie Proverb

"Who could believe in the prophecies...that the world would end this summer, while one milkweed with faith matured its seed?"

-Henry David Thoreau, Faith in a Seed, September 24, 1851


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.