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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.

Rear View Mirror

Prairie Notes #144
November 28, 2018

01) Rear View Mirror

02) Field Report - November

03) 10th Annual Manly Men Wild Women, RSVP 

04) New Species of the Month

05) Monarch Moment...continued

06) Prairie Fire at Tandy Hills

07) Star Notes

08) Honored & Humbled

09) Prairie Proverb



01) Rear View Mirror


The year 2018, was a wild one at Tandy Hills. On the minus-side of the ledger, Tandy Hills endured:

  • the largest prairie fire in many years (a good/bad thing)
  • one of the hottest days ever (111 degrees on July 20)
  • two of the wettest months ever (Feb: 11.3", Oct: 15.6")
  • sustained an idiot guy driving a pickup on the praire for a photo-shoot
  • an enormous influx of professional photographers and their models 
  • a marked increase in invasive species, notably, King Ranch Bluestem (KRB)

On the plus-side, we received a cornucopia of blessings to go along with our challenges. Reflecting, without hubris, on our accomplishments serves as a reminder to supporters of our worthiness AND, to our little band of volunteers, a high-five for their positive impact on our world in 2018.

Herewith, I am proud to present the annual list of notable 2018 accomplishments. It denotes the sustained commitment of Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area to restoring, interpreting and raising awareness of our local prairie. Your support is VITAL as we move ahead in 2019.

  • The 9th annual Manly Men Wild Women Hike the Hills drew a smallish crowd of newcomers on sub-freezing New Years Day, 2018

  • Brush Bash #10 brought out the best in our crew of volunteers who cleared the west trailhead area

  • Our much-revered outdoor education program, Kids on the Prairie (KOP), notched year #8 hosting or sponsoring public and private school field trips

  • The FASH Foundation awarded Friends of Tandy Hills another grant of $2,000 dedicated to funding our outdoor education programs

  • PrairieSky / StarParty, a collaboration with FW Astronomical Society, completed Year 3 with a cosmic bang (and a few rainouts)

  • The Tandy Hills iNaturalist Project project page exploded with more observations and species count (1065 as of Dec. 1)

  • North Texas Giving Day donations topped $2,200 adding to other generous donations throughout the year

  • The Tandy Hills Facebook page had a steady increase in Post Reach, Post Engagements and New Page Likes in 2018

  • The Texas Society of Architects awarded Friends of Tandy Hills the 2018 Citation of Honor

  • Prairie Posse, our monthly land management program, notched Year 3 with noticeable improvements to several areas

  • Friends of Tandy Hills founders, Don & Debora Young, were honored for their volunteer work at Tandy Hills with the, 2018 Green Source DFW Sustainable Leadership Award for Conservation Activists, by the Memnosyne Foundation

  • The Fort Worth Weekly's, Best of 2018 Award for Best Green Space, went to Tandy Hills Natural Area, for the third time

  • The Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission awarded Friends of Tandy Hills with a 28K grant to improve the entrire trail system






02) Field Report - November


The Second Spring of October finally gave way to a few days of freezing temps, putting the kabosh on lots of confused wildflowers and their pollinators, ushering in the palette of Autumn. Check it out here.


Lovely wavy clouds on a lovely fall day at a lovely place called, Tandy Hills.


November sunset


A fine view on Thanksgiving eve.


A Thanksgiving hike was well rewarded.


The same mighty Oaks from a different perspective.


Texas Storkbill leaves in their autumn colors cover the ground in a few places.


The cool of the evening coming on at your local prairie on November 27.


03) 10th Annual Manly Men Wild Women, RSVP


Wow! Will it really be 10 years??? January 1, 2019 is just a month away, the same day you'll receive the next Prairie Notes. So, consider this your, aide-to-memorie. Only for brave and demented nature mystics. Feel free to RSVP.



04) New Species of the Month


Tandy Hills iNaturalist obervers continue finding new species topping out at 1065, up from 1037 on October 1. In November, at least six new species were recorded including: Chipping Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Olive Shaded Bird-dropping Moth, False Turkey Tail Fungi, Fractured Western Snout Moth and Salt Marsh Moth. Check out the Tandy Hills Project page on iNaturalist here:


Salt Marsh Moth caterpillar snacking on some greens.


Distinctive patterns decorate this caterpillar.



05) Monarch Moment...continued


At press time last month, I showed you the green chrysalis of a Monarch butterfly seen at Tandy Hills. A few days later the metamorphosis was complete. Here are some photos and video of the full miracle.


Video here:


October 29


November 4


November 5


The paint is still wet on this one.


Finding its legs (and wings) just minutes out of the chrysalis.


06) Prairie Fire at Tandy Hills


On November 26, a widespread wildfire was reported at Tandy Hills. The FW Fire Dept. put it out, but not before several acres had burned. No one hurt. It will be very interesting to monitor the burned areas next spring for reinvigorated plant growth. Prairies do love fire.


Watch a short video of the fire being controlled here:






A prairie fire begs for a plein air sketch. Debora Young took advantage.


Wttercolor sketch by, Debora Young


07) Star Notes


The PrairieSky / Star Party 2018 season is over. With several rainouts it was a dissapointing year but, next season which starts in March 2019, we will add raindates. The free star-gazing events in cooperation with FW Astronomical Society, will take place on "selected" Saturdays when the night sky is most interesting.


The 2019 events pick up on Saturday, March 16, and will continue on April 13, May 11, June 8, July 6, August 10, September 7, October 5 and November 2. Occassional special events may occur. Mark your calendars. 


Even though there is no star party in December, FW Astronomical Society rep, Pam Kloepfer has provided a little blurb about the December night sky for your use:


"December heralds the arrival of the magnificent winter constellations. The Pleiades star cluster can be seen almost directly overhead all night long. Look for a small dipper shape. The star Aldebaran marks the “red eye” of Taurus the Bull and follows the Pleiades. To the south is awesome Orion the Hunter, a huge constellation easily distinguishable by three stars in a row marking his belt. Follow the belt to the bright star Sirius, the brightest star in our night sky. Also known as the “Dog Star,” Sirius is in the constellation Canis Major - Orion’s dog! All of these targets are easily visible by just looking up; the Pleiades is stellar in a pair of binoculars!" 


Jamieson's constellation atlas, 1820


From a set of constellation cards titled, Urania’s Mirror (1825) attributed to the Rev. Richard Rouse Bloxam.


See you in March, 2019


08) Honored & Humbled


Friends of Tandy Hills and its Founders, Don & Debora Young, received two major honors in November. On November 10, the Texas Society of Architects bestowed the 2018 Citation of Honor to Friends of Tandy Hills. On November 15, Don & Debora Young received the Green Source DFW, 2018 Sustainable Leadership Award from the Memnosyne Foundation. Both honors are greatly appreciated. 


Texas society of Architects annual awards banquet in Fort Worth



Debora & Don Young accepting their award from, Green Source DFW Director, Wendel Withrow. (photo credit: Bil Strode)



09) Prairie Proverb


"We learn by doing when we reflect on what we have done." 


-John Dewey, 1859 - 1952, American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer





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.