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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.

Rainbow Across the Prairie

Prairie Notes #128
August 1, 2017

01) Rainbow Across the Prairie
02) Field Report - July
03) TH Pavilion Design Honored
04) The Dragonfly Picnic
05) The Dragonfly Woman
06) Summer Sunsets
07) A Tale of Two Bluebells
08) Prairie Proverb


01) Rainbow Across the Prairie

Every now and then, nature supplies opportunities at Tandy Hills that transcend the ordinary wonderment of this place. This is especially welcome in mid-summer when the wildflowers begin to fade and photo-ops are more challenging. Such an opportunity presented itself on July 7.

At about 8 pm, I looked out my window and saw that, light rain had conspired with the setting Sun creating a stunning double rainbow above the hills. I grabbed my camera and headed for the prairie. The western sky cast a mysterious amber-glow across the meadow, the air smelled brightly of prairie petrichor, a fragrant mix of ancient limestone dust, sage, wildflowers, cedar and prairie grasses. As I walked down the trail, scattered raindrops fell heavy like silver bullets. Dragonflies and Nighthawks, diving and darting for their prey, whirled above me as the Sun descended out of view and the rainbow slowly dissolved into the gathering twilight. 

You had to be there but...these snapshots and short video may elicit joy in you, as the event did me.

02) Field Rreport - July

Early July saw almost 4" of rain, rejuvenating the prairie before oppressive summer heat settled in. The grasses are coming on nicely with a few wildflower species making it interesting. Summer sauntering is still worthwhile but come early or late and always bring water. Be brave. Fortune favors the bold.

Plainly exotic: Saw-leaf Daisy thrives in summer heat.

Summer breezes make me feel fine.

Durable, White Rosinweed (Silphium albiflorum), can also take the heat and keep on ticking.

Close relative, Compassplant (Silphium lacinatum) digging the summer heat. (Note dried bud cup, full of seeds.)

At a 45-degree angle, this hill is made for napping on a summer day and may cure what ails you, too.

Wand Milkweed is abundant at Tandy Hills.

A few stunted sprigs of Gayfeather (L. aestivalis) are starting to poke through the grass.

Fall grasses such as, Hairy Grama, are starting to come online.

Hairy Grama (Bouteloua hirsuta) up close, clearly shows its hirsute tip.

Less common, Blue Grama grass (B. gracilis), has no "hair" on tip of seedhead and is slightly taller than Hairy Grama.

Powdered Dancer Damselfly (Argia moesta), brown form female collecting solar energy.

Tandy Hills signature prairie grass is Little Bluestem and it has benefitted from summer rains.

03) T.H. Pavilion Design Honored

The Tandy Hills pavilion design competition winner by, Dennehy Architects, has been selected into the Amarillo Museum of Art, Biennial 600: Architecture, a juried exhibition. The selected architects must reside within a 600-mile radius of Amarillo. Congrats to Paul Dennehy and team on this honor! Read the Press Release here:


04) The Dragonfly Picnic

The teddy bears have moved to higher climes, but, swarms of dragonflies picnicking on mosquitoes at Tandy Hills are as predictable as the summer heat. I was lucky enough to see an amazing display of them on a late afternoon in mid-July. Best observation is where the prairie meets a brushy area. The Dragonflies appear to catch their prey as they enter or leave the protected brush. With the late afternoon sun behind them, their wings shimmer like silver as they skillfully navigate the prairie. Here's 30 second video I made from July 20:

Screenshot from video.

The dragonflies in the swarm video were most likely the Common Whitetail. Male pictured. Photo by Troy Mullins

Meanwhile...the Teddy Bears':

05) The Dragonfly Woman

While researching dragonflies, I discovered a cool website/blog called, The Dragonfly WomanChris Goforth, creator of the site, is an entomologist who runs a science project called, the Dragonfly Swarm Project. If you like dragonflies and other winged insects you'll enjoy her site.

06) Summer Sunsets

Not unlike our urge to stare into campfires, the view west at sunset seems to hold equally hypnotic power. July sunsets were often captivating. Here's a sampling.

July 5

July 5

July 7

July 8

July 13

07) A Tale of Two Bluebells

Texas Bluebells (Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum) are the showiest wildflower at Tandy Hills in mid-summer. They are thriving right now especially where seeps occur. Color variants range from deep purple to pink-ish to creamy white.The differences can be striking. These pics were taken on July 27. It was worth the hike on a 100 degree day to see these natural wonders up close.

08) Prairie Proverb

"Where can I go to make my spirit and mind stronger? Where can I go to become emotionally stronger? Nature is a great place to do that."

- Dianne Whelan, Canadian filmmaker, documentarian and adventurer. Currently working on indie film, 500 Days in the Wild


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.