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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.

Prelude to the Beginning of Spring

Prairie Notes #146
February 1, 2019

01) Prelude to the Beginning of Spring

02) Your Support is Vital!

03) Field Report - January

04) New Species - January

05) MM&WW HIke the HIlls Report

06) Trout Lily Walk with Sam K - RSVP

07) A Big Beautiful Wall

08) Prairie Proverb - Mary Oliver



01) Prelude to the Beginning of Spring


The February newsletter is the most challenging of the year. I don't have a lot of pretty photos to share this time of year nor much news to share. There are very few signs of the coming spring glory but,...that's still happening mostly underground. It's the beginning of the beginning so, I've got to be resourceful here.


I know! Let's hop in the YouTube time machine and set the controls to a sweet day in May 2016 at Tandy Hills and take a 2.5 minute virtual hike. This was a magical day when winter was a distant memory and the wildflowers were so glorious, so lush and thick you would be forgiven for breaking in to song. This little vid is also intended to insprire you to read and act on #2, below.







02) Your Support is VITAL!


What does the native, natural world of Fort Worth look like in 2019? We have some nice wooded areas near the river. A few little pocket prairies scattered about. Other than that, there ain't much native left in cowtown. The so-called, "Queen City on the Prairie", is a shadow of it's fromer glory. That is precisely what makes Tandy Hills so vital  to our lives and so deserving of preserving as a recreational and educational resource. Stay with me here.


Since 2014, Friends of Tandy Hills have accumulated tens of thousands of volunteer hours towards the restoration and interpretation of your local prairie. The various public outreach programs and events have made a positive difference in you and your community. Volunteers do a lot, but it takes your financial support to keep it going. Become a Friend HERE:


> BIG Thanks to the following new Members, so far, in 2019: Happy Gardens, Ben Clemens, Jim Marshall, Dick Schoech, Eco Blossom Nursery, Agnieszka Hurst, Rebecca & Tom Motley, Jerry & Suzanne Halbert, Grace Darling, Elsa Zamarripa, Suzanne Tuttle, Rachel Rouby, Dawn Hancock and Maggie Pack.


>>> SPECIAL Thanks to Phil Hennen, whose Facebook Birthday Fundraiser, collected $266 for Friends of Tandy Hills. I like this new trend on Facebook. Happy Birthday to everyone reading this!



03) Field Report - January


Big picture landscapes are what you get at Tandy Hills in January. The intricate wildflowers and prairie grasses of spring and summer are silently forming underfoot. The wide open, unobstructed views reveal the well-defined contours of the hills and valleys. Undistracted solitudue is your reward. Come on in.


Your local carbon sink working hard while looking good in winter.


The brightest colored organism in the January landscape is neon green Moss. This is also fertile ground for upcoming Trout Lilies.


Indian and Bluestem Grasses define the winter prairiescape.


The one wildflower exception in January is this Big Root Cymopterus (Cymopterus macrorhizus) Not seen until late February in 2018.


Winter sunset on the prairie.

Common Saw Greenbrier (Smilax bona-nox) stands out rather fetchingly in an otherwise muted, winter landscape.


A cloudy, last day of January, 2019.


04) New Species - January


Only 2 new species were documented in January but both are exciting additions to the Tandy Hills iNaturalist project. A Harris's Sparrow was observed and ID'd by Don & Debora Young on January 14. Note---Back in 2007, before iNaturalist existed, the same species was documented by, Tom Stevens in his, Tandy Hills Ornithological Assessment. You can read his fascinating document, HERE:


On January 7, Amanda Priest Oliver, a first time visitor to Tandy Hills, discovered a new frog species for the park, the Southern Leopard Frog. It was ID'd for me by renowned Texas herpetologist, Michael Smith. Michael and Clint King have co-authored a new book titled, Herping Texas. You should get yourself a copy. Read about it HERE:


Harris's Sparrow, an uncommon sight at Tandy Hills.


Southern Leopard Frog (photo by Amanda Priest Oliver)


Buy this book.



05) MM&WW Hike Report


It was perfectly appropriate, miserable weather on January 1, 2019, when 50 brave humans and 5 dogs slogged through mud, up and down steep hills in freezing temps to earn their Manly Men Wild Women credentials. Congratulations are in order! 


> BIG Thanks to Brian & Gina Milligan of, Coffee Folk, for donating their time and hot coffee!


Over the meadow...


...and through the wood, to fame and glory we go!


Coffee Folk to the resuce. Gina & Brian Milligan



We don't give out these sheepskins to just anybody. You gotta earn 'em!


06) Trout Lily Walk with Sam K


In 2018, Trout Lilies were blooming in late January at Tandy Hills. However, as of January 30, 2019, there is not a single one to be found. But, I'm betting there will be some of these harbingers of spring on Sunday, February 24, when Sam Kieschnick, leads the annual Trout Lily Walk. All ages welcome.




Trout Lilies, also know as, Faun Lily and Dog Tooth Violets, are one of the iconic species at Tandy Hills.


Where Sam Kieschnick goes a crowd full of questions follows. Bring yours on February 24.


07) A Big Beautiful Wall


As you may recall, last April a guy from Burleson brazenly drove his big truck into the central wildflower meadow at Tandy Hills to do a photo shoot for his roofing company. That illegal event prompted Friends of Tandy Hills board members to ask Fort Worth Park & Rec to help improve security by replacing the old post and cable system with locally sourced, limestone boulders. The first phase of that process was begun on January 31. We think it looks nifty.


Jeeeeez....Illegal activities like this will be prevented with our new border security system.


FW PARD crew moving in giant boulders one by one.


Locally sourced limestone is a natural fit for Tandy Hills.



08) Prairie Proverb


"Instructions for living a life:

Pay attention.

Be astonished.
Tell about it."

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


Photo credit: Mariana Cook




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.