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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.

'Tween Times

Prairie Notes #155
November 1, 2019

01) 'Tween TImes
02) Field Report - October
03) The Garden Path Podcast
04) PrairieSky / StarParty News - October
05) New Species - October
06) Emily in the Garden
07) Last Call for Little Art House on the Prairie
08) Master Naturalists Take to the Hills
09) Fall Aster Time
10) Prairie Proverb - Tennesse Williams

01) 'Tween Times


According to Wikipedia, "Indian Summer, is that period of unseasonably warm, dry weather that sometimes occurs in autumn in northern America during late September to November."


As of October 31, the lingering Indian Summer of 2019 has finally surrendered to winter-like weather including, a freeze. But it had a long run. Before then we were stuck in a kind of nature time warp. The summer drought denied us the heavenly grass* of fall while the temps were very pleasant. The result was near-perfect weather but a less than picturesque fall landscape.


As November rolls in, we are now in 'Tween Times: Not quite fall and not quite winter. Halfway between. Wildflowers and their pollinators are few and far between, most grasses are fading or never matured, tree leaves are turning and shedding more from drought than normal color turning, and the Monarchs, more than usual by the way, were blown south by the storm of October 20th that also brought 2" of rain. 


'Tween times are a good time to visit Tandy Hills. Come get lost.







02) Field Report - October


Eye-catching wild things and happenings were few and far between during much of October at Tandy Hills but, as usual, there were notable exceptions. Check 'em out.


An October 11 weather event brought a much-needed 1.25" of rain, breaking the long drought.


A kettle of roughly 50 Turkey Vultures riding a south bound thermal on October 12.


Monarchs and Gulf Fritillary butterflies were plentiful in 2019.


Monarchs were already heading south when an October 20 norther gave them an express wind.


Rainlily's are only happy when it rains.


Little Bluestem gras soldiered on through the drought.


October 20 brought a welcome change in the weather.


A female, Obscure Bird Grasshopper, is one of the largest of the genus. This one was about 4.5" long with extra long wings.


Fox Squirrels are stocking up on Sugarberries. How about you?


This, Spotted Cucumber Beetle, on a Maximillian Sunflower was the brighest spot on the October prairie.


This magnificent specimen of, Osage False Foxglove, reminds me of ocean coral. It has pink flowers when blooming.


A mother, Green Lynx Spider, studiously guarding her recently hatched spiderlings.


Palofoxia is one of the relaible wildfloweres of fall.


Possumhaw trees are starting to bear their delightful red fruits.


We end with a series of classic fall views from your local prairie to get lost in. 10/20/2019








03) The Garden Path Podcast


Don & Debora Young were interviewed by Fort Worth native, Misti Little for the latest edition of, The Garden Path Podcast. It covers a lot of ground from the beginnings of Friends of Tandy Hills to the present. You may find it of interest. LINK:



Photo by Misti Little



04) PrairieSky / StarParty News - October 


The November event is the last one until March 2020. You are invited to attend. Here's the night sky description form, Fort Worth Astronomical Society rep, Pam Kloepfer:


"The long dark nights of November reveal the arrival of the winter constellations. Look for Orion the Hunter and Taurus the Bull to rise in the East. These constellations will be seen well into the Spring. The star cluster, The Pleiades, is a beautiful naked-eye cluster that precedes Taurus the Bull. Cassiopeia is a circumpolar constellation revolving around the polestar, Polaris. Look for a large “W” almost overhead, along with Perseus the Hero, where a small telescope will reveal a pair of glittering star clusters known as the Double Cluster. The Moon will be a beautiful waxing crescent on Nov 2, revealing its craters along the terminator, the dividing line between its illuminated and unilluminated face."



Perseus slays Medusa above the Tandy Hills on November 2nd.





05) New Species - October


There were three new species observed in October, two by *Sam Kieschnick and one by Don YoungHouse Wren, Eastern Yellowjacket and Green June Beetle are the three new species, bringing the current species count to 1255. LINK


> > > Speaking of Sam Kieschnick*...he has been announced as a nominee for the, Green Source DFW Sustainable Leadership Awards as, Conservation Activist, 2019. Other FOTHNA friends and supporters in the running for this prestigious include, Richard Freiheit (Conservation Activist), Don Ferrier (Environmental Science Innovation), DFW Solar Tour (Volunteer of the Year) and John MacFarlane (Volunteer of the Year). The awards banquet will be held at the Dallas Arboretum on November 14. Details HERE.


House Wren. Photo & ID by, Sam Kieschnick


Eastern Yellowjacket. Photo & ID by Sam Kieschnick

Common Green June Beetle (Cotinis nitida)


06) Emily D. in the Garden


A lovely new book titled, Emily Dickinson's Gardening Life, was published October 1 by Workman Press. Emily is one of our favorite nature mystics. According to the press blurb, it's a "...visual as well as literary treat...deeply satisfying for gardeners, garden lovers, connoisseurs of botanical illustration." But it was this quote from a book review that caught my eye, reminding me of the vandals who plunder our prairie meadows every spring:


While Dickinson never heard the term “endangered species,” she understood it. During the height of her wildflower expeditions, young Emily had already noticed the change. “There are not many wild flowers near, for the girls have driven them to a distance,” she wrote in a letter, “and we are obliged to walk quite a distance to find them.”


If you choose to buy this book on Amazon, your purchase will benefit Friends of Tandy Hills. Just choose the AmazonSmile option and look for us.



07) LAST CALL for Little Art House on the Prairie


Incoming from the Amon Carter Museum of American Art about your opportunity to draw your adventure at Tandy Hills and participate in an upcoming exhibition.:


We’ve sent out three special Mark Dion Community Boxes to celebrate “The Perilous Texas Adventures of Mark Dion” coming February 2020 to the Carter. Stop by the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Tandy Hills Natural Area or the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge to send us a postcard for free! You might even see your drawing end up on one of our channels!


Tandy Hills is one of only three places the boxes were installed so, please take advantage of this op to express your Tandy Hills adventure. Details HERE:


Photo coutesy, Amon Carter Museum of American Art



08) Master Naturalists Take to the Hills


On October 12, Don Young led a hike at Tandy Hills for 20, Cross Timbers Master Naturalists as part of their Urban Systems training.





09) Fall Aster Time


Four species of Aster have been ID'd at Tandy Hills. The tiny-flowered, White Heath Aster is a fetching sight. The rather common, white-colored, Texas Aster is also known as Drummond's Aster. The two purple species include the rather uncommon, Aromatic Aster and the showy, Late Purple AsterThey are all currently in bloom.



Drummond's Aster


Aromatic Aster


White Heath Aster


Late Purple Aster



08) *Prairie Proverb - Tennessee Williams


My feet took a walk in heavenly grass.

All day while the sky shone clear as glass.

My feet took a walk in heavenly grass,

All night while the lonesome stars rolled past.

Then my feet come down to walk on earth,

And my mother cried when she give me birth.

Now my feet walk far and my feet walk fast,

But they still got an itch for heavenly grass.

But they still got an itch for heavenly grass.

- Tennessee Williams*, from the 1942 poem, Heavenly Grass. The poem was also part of a song cycle composed in 1946 by, Paul Bowles, titled, Blue Mountain Ballads.

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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.