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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.

A Trail Runs Through It

Prairie Notes #116
August 1, 2016

1) A Trail Runs Through It
2) Field Report - July
3) Prairie Posse Rides
4) Rings, Craters, Stars &...Moths?
5) Water to the People
6) Blue Zones @ Tandy Hills
7) Giving Day Cometh
8) Prairie Proverb

1) A Trail Runs Through It

Summer is normally a slow time at Tandy Hills Natural Area and for the Friends of THNA. Not this year. As you will read below, things are popping out here. Star parties, water fountains, a Blue Zone event, wedding photo-shoots, Texas travel book listing, a public shelter project is in the works. But, perhaps, the best news for Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area came on July 18, when we received word from Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. that Tandy Hills has been accepted for inclusion in the Great Texas Wildlife Trails – Prairies and Pineywoods West. The listing will be published in September on the TP&WD website and printed on Prairies and Pineywoods West maps. Check out the web pages HERE:

Tandy Hills is part of the Fort Worth Wild Loop, site PPWW 069A. The full listing of the loop is below.
069A Tandy Hills Natural Area
069 Texas Wild! at the Fort Worth Zoo
070 Fort Worth Forest Park
071 Fort Worth Trinity Park
072 Fort Worth Botanic Gardens
073 Tanglewood
074 Foster Park

Purchase printed maps HERE:


The inside of printed map is colorfully illustrated.

The map will be available in September. (cover)

By this fall, signs similar to this one will be placed along I-30 and at Tandy Hills.

2) Field Report - July

Don't believe for a minute that Tandy Hills shuts down in the summer. As you can see from my pics below, there is lots of color, texture and wildlife activity, even in 100 degree heat. Speaking of wildlife, I had my first VERY close encounter with an armadillo in July. I was so flustered, I dropped my camera as the startled critter hustled away. No pics, dang it! A very alert, Eastern Cottontail rabbit was observed as were a couple of Cooper's Hawks and a bevy of pollinators and other insects. Fall wildflowers and grasses are starting to appear, some quite vigorously having benefitted form timely, summer showers. Here's my visual record of the hot but colorful month of July, at Tandy Hills. 

The always striking, Wand Milkweed (Ascelpias viridiflora), are still weeks away from maturity.

Even though I posted pics of Texas Bluebells (Eustoma exaltatum) last month, I must share with you a fresh prairie bouquet.

Compassplant (Silphium lacinatum) flowers are fetching from both sides.

Silphium lacinatum speaks the language of summer.

White Prairie Clover (Dalea multiflora) are at the magnificant peak in July-August

Pockets of Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) are exceptionally vigorous this year and very pleasing to the eye.

Thousands of Gay-feather (Liatris aestivalis) stems, swollen and purple-tipped are ripening across the prairie....

...making love to the Sun every evening, for all to see.

Sturdy dried stems of American Basketflower (Centaurea americana) stand upright all summer and into the fall.

Surprise, surprise! A single, spring-blooming Purple Paintbush (Castilleja Purpurea) shunning the summer heat.

Splashy blossoms of Two-leaf Senna (Senna roemeriana) brighten the summer prairie.

We briefly interrupt these pretty pictures to share with you an act of vandalism that occurred on July 18.

But the good folks at FW Park & Rec corrected the damage by July 21. 

The floowing two pics show the unusual nests of Bold Jumper Spiders (Phidippus audax). This one likes Eryngo....

while this one prefers, Sawleaf Daisy (Grindelia papposa).

This Eastern Carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica), one of many observed in July, seems to prefer White Prairie Clover.

I was concentrating on a the lighting of a wildflower and didn't notice the spectator until I had taken several pics.

A posse of, Great Spreadwing Damselflies (Archilestes grandis), have been hanging at Tandy Hills this summer.

3) Prairie Posse Rides

WANTED: Tandy Hills Prairie Posse

Are you one of those people who has wanted to help out Tandy Hills in a direct way? Here's your chance. Due to unusual spring rains, the most popular trails at Tandy Hills are overgrown with weeds and other plants. A small crew of volunteers is needed to clear the trails on a monthly basis from 8 am - Noon. Our new designation from the State as a Great Texas Wildlife Trail makes this work all the more important.

Sign up here: <> Thanks a mil!

4) Rings, Craters, Stars &...Moths?

The inaugural PrairieSky/StarParty was a bummer, man. It rained on our cosmic parade. BUT we are back on August 13 with a double feature that's sure to please. Come on in and see the rings of Saturn, the craters of the moon and the shooting star known as, Mr. Sam Kieschnick, Texas Parks & Wildlife urban biologist. Sam is returning with his popular Mothing 'til Midnight show and tell. Bring the whole family for a night under the stars. Steel City Pops will be back with some righteous frozen goodies.

Our new star party got a nice write up in the August issue of 360 West magazine. Grab a hard copy at many local stores or check out the digital edition HERE.

We were all set for the inagural PrairieSky/StarParty....

....before the clouds rolled in putting the kabosh on star-gazing. But we will be back in August with a double feature.

Astronomers from FW Astronomical Society setting up for a 360 West magazine photo shoot.

Sam Kieschnick will be attracting moths and your attention on August 13, as part of a nocturnal double feature.

Photo © Olaf Growald. Used with permission

5) Water to the People

I was a much younger man when I first started asking the Fort Worth Park & Recreation Department (PARD) about installing a water fountain at Tandy Hills. As of July 28, this basic necessity is finally available for visitors to Tandy Hills, both bipeds and quadrupeds. Our hat is off to PARD, District Superintendent, Jerry McDowell, for getting it done within my lifetime. 

You have to hold those buttons down for a few seconds to get the water flowing. 

The lower bowl can be filled for you 4-legged friends.

6) Blue Zones @ Tandy Hills

On July 30, Blue Zones Project of Fort Worth brought their community-wide, well-being improvement initiative to Tandy Hills Natiral Area. A decent crowd turned up for the mini-festival of healthy living. The fact that Blue Zones picked Tandy Hills as one of their outreach events is more proof that word of our little prairie is getting around.

7) Giving Day Cometh

THE annual fundraiser for Friends of Tandy Hills and other North Texas non-profits comes back around on September 22. We are counting on your support. This is the WEBLINK to make a donation on that day and ONLY that day. We will remind you.

8) Prairie Proverb

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see."

- Henry David Thoreau

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.