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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.

Subversive Symbiosis

Prairie Notes #125
May 1, 2017

01) Subversive Symbiosis
02) Field Report - April
03) City Nature Challenge Report
04) Winston School of Dallas
05) Parker County Master Gardeners
06) Wildlife Trail Official
07) Wide World of Winecups
08) Notable Cacti I Have Known
09) Prairie Posse Report
10) Vital Vdeos for Busy People
11) Prairie Proverb

01) Subversive Symbiosis

As she does every year, Mother Nature unleashed a profusion of bio-diversity on Tandy Hills in the month of April. Wildflowers are the big draw, of course, attracting pollinators and photographers by the score. The lavishness of spring pulls us in to escape, saunter and admire. 

Just like the wildflowers lure pollinators with their pollen, Friends of Tandy Hills are guilty of using the beauty of wildflowers as a kind of "honey", a lure, if you will, to get you here. We want to make environmental radicals out of you so you will help protect, restore and interpret this island of green space, our living outdoor classroom. Every program/tour/hike we offer is meant to be fun while also inspring interest and education. It's all very, subversively symbiotic, but in a good way. 

Our Spring 2017 education calendar is especially full. Here's a look at the events, schools and groups hosted, sponsored or led by FOTHNA volunteers to lure you in this spring:

- City Nature Challenge at Tandy Hills (see #3 below)
- Winston School of Dallas (upper school, see below)
- Parker County Master Gardeners (see below)
- St. Rita Catholic School (7th grade class)
- Everman ISD (The entire 7th grade class of nearly 500 kids)
- Kids on the Prairie (our own signature program, now in its 8th year, hosts Meadowbrook ES in May and October)
- PrairieSky / StarParty (our monthly event with FW Astronomical Society)

As interest in Tandy Hills grows we will continue to advise and facilitate use of Tandy Hills as an outdoor recreation resource and education classroom for the entire north Texas community. Your finacial and volunteer support is vital to our programs.


Subversive symbiosis in action

02) Field Report - April

A perfect combination of cool air, rain and warm sunshine, contributed to an amazing mass of biodiversity in April. Oh, and there was the wind...the never-ceasing wind! Here's a snapshot, and only a snapshot, of what I observed. Come on in to, really see.

Tawny Emperor atop Roughleaf Dogwood, announces spring almost, cinematically.

Painted Lady

American Snout

Common Bukeye is anything but.

White M Hairstreak (Parrhasius m-album)

Red Admiral

Prairie False Foxglove come in light...

...and darker shades of pink/purple.

A tiny hopper of some kind (less than 1/8", not counting antennae)

Crab Spiders are all over Tandy Hills.

Quarter-size, Yellow Flax, always brightens my day.

Compassplant worshipping the Sun.

This little miracle is the beautiful bud of, Missouri Primrose

Yucca silhouetted against the Sun.

Ratany trails through the grass exhuding a spicy scent for nature mystics.

Common yet lovely, Prairie Bishop's Weed and Bluets pair up nicley.

Less common at Tandy Hills and quite fanciful, Prairie Brazoria.

Eastern Carpenter Bee

Unidentified fly/wasp

American Bumblbee in his cups. Antelopehorns Milkweed cup, that is.

Seven-spotted Ladybug

Little Brown Skink, rarely sits still for a photo. I got lucky.

This is not a snake. Note the legs and feet. 

Sunset on the prairie as April nears its windy end.

03) City Nature Challenge Report


The City Nature Challenge - Texas, was a gigantic success with DFW edging out San Francisco for 1st place! D/FW organizer, Sam Kieschnick, inspired a barnstorming army of 506 local naturalists to victory, leading the nation with 24,147 observations. (Texas had three of the top five winners with Austin taking 4th place and Houston 5th place.) See final Leaderboard here:


On the final day of the challenge, a tired but happy Sam K. was at Tandy Hills, coaxing a few more iNat observations from the enthusiastic crowd. Read his take on the outcome here:



Sam Kieschnick charging up some Nature Challenge observers.


04) Winston School of Dallas

Friends of Tandy Hills welcomed 26 upper school science students from the Winston School of Dallas, to the prairie on April 25 for a science-based field trip. Don & Debora Young led them on a 2-hour tour to ID and photograph 25 native wildflowers for a class assignment. One of the students made this quirky, sweet video of their visit. It warms our hearts to see young folks appreciating Tandy Hills. Nature mystics can save the world.


Big kids on the prairie.


They completed their assignment of ID-ing 25 wildflowers.


05) Parker County Master Gardeners


A cheerful group of 14 Parker County Master Gardeners visited Tandy Hills on April 26. Debora & Don Young led them on a 2-hour tour of the prettiest prairie in north TX. It was a lovely way to usher in the cold front.


Master Gardeners know their prairie plants


Taking a break at Outdoor Classroom #1. 

06) Wildlife Trail is Official

As of April 26, Tandy Hills Natural Area is officially part of the, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Great Texas Wildlife Trail System. We are statewide! Thanks to PARD staff for getting the boss sign installed.



07) Wide World of Winecups

Are you familiar with the old 17th century expression, "He's in his cups." Basically, it's a euphemism for being drunk. Wellsir, I'm in my cups. Winecups, that is, drunk on one of my favorite wildflowers.


Tandy Hills Natural Area is home to four shades of Standing Winecup (Callirhoe pedata) pictured here in order of most common: white, pink, red and purple. I'll drink to that.






08) Notable Cacti I Have Known

On April 20, I was able to observe a Grooved Nipple Cactus (Coryphantha sulcata) in full bloom at Tandy Hills. A week later, it bloomed again, this time with double flowers. Experts say this is a rare plant for Tandy Hills and perhaps the only specimen at the park. I've been keeping tabs on this plant since I stumbled upon it last year. To see it bloom was a rare treat. Here's a set of photos from last winter to last week.


February 21 (Signs of last years flower give me hope)


March 27 (Fuzzy white stuff appears under the needles)


April 16 (First sign of flowers poke through)


April 19


April 20 (Ta-Da! Gorgeous yellow-ish flowers)


April 20


April 20


April 26  (Just a week later new buds appeared)


April 27


April 28 (Two double-flowers in full bloom)



On the opposite side of the park, I rediscovered a Foxtail Cactus (?) I last saw 10 years ago. I was never able to find it again until Debora Young sighted it last month. It has grown considerably since 2007, as is evident in these pics from 2007 and 2017.


Foxtail Cactus, 2007


Foxtail Cactus, 2017


09) Prairie Posse Report

A small group of six dedicated people joined the Prairie Posse last Saturday to help clean up, eye-cluttering views of the, Iconic Meadow at Tandy Hills. It looks more iconic than ever. Thanks to trailboss, Joseph Lippert and his posse, Mario Garza, Ryan Koym, Ron Marusak, Debora & Don Young.


Posse members wanted every 3rd Saturday.


10) Vital Videos for Busy People

If you are one of those super-busy people with no time to read Prairie Notes cover-to-cover, I feel for you. But I have also made it EZ for you. Here's four short videos of Tandy Hills with little reading required.

Busy Bees - Pollinators Partaking of Powderpuff Pollen at Tandy Hills on a Sunday Morning in April.


An Armchair Trip to Barbara's Button Hill on a Windy Day



Cactus Beetles



Two Queens of the Prairie Haaving Fun

11) Prairie Proverb

"Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads."


- Henry David Thoreau, from, Walden, Or Life in the Woods, 1854 


We continue to celebrate Thoreau's bicentennial birth year in 2017. This portrait is his second and final photographic sitting, August 1861. He died less than a year later.


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.