Friday, September 29, 2017

Spot the alligator or snake

In the shadow of a big tree in Fishing Pond No. 1 at Sheldon Lake State Park, an alligator lurks.
There it is.

It's always fun to pause at the small pond along the walkway to the fishing ponds at Sheldon Lake State Park & Learning Center to look for critters.

You can almost always spot several frogs/toads and at least one snake. Which makes me wonder how many elusive critters I don't see.

One of three snakes in the little pond with the alligator head sculpture and warning sign. This looks like a Broad-banded water snake.
Ribbon snake.
Another Broad-banded water snake. A buddy also spotted a "big snake" that vamoosed before I could get to the other side of the pond to snap a pic with my smartphone.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Seed picking in the prairie

As a general rule we collect only 20 percent of the seed supply so there will be plenty left to reseed the area.

Coneflower (Rudbeckia Texana) seeds are ready to be picked so that's what we did this September morning. Many who work in the prairie collect seeds this time of year to boost their planting inventory.

It's a fairly easy task if you don't mind wearing boots, long sleeves and a layer of insect spray to guard against ticks as you tramp through waist-high grasses and forbs.

Spreading out to collect seed heads.
A few are still blooming.

Now I have a bucket of seeds to clean and return to our planter who will get seedlings started in the greenhouse for eventual planting in nearby prairie projects tended by Texas Master Naturalists.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Attwater Prairie Chickens after the flood

We hope the Houston Zoo APC have a good breeding year to make up for the flood victims.

Houston Zoo's Attwater Prairie Chickens at NASA weathered the rains of Hurricane Harvey with no troubles. But the volunteers working on the pens didn't get back to work for about two weeks because most were helping storm damage to friends' homes or beach areas.

However not all the Texas APC survived.

From Friends of APCNWR Facebook page:

This morning we received the following update from Terry Rossignol, Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge manager:
"Unfortunately, the APC at the refuge did not fare well. Of 29 that were being tracked before the storm (generally hens only), we only have 5 confirmed alive. An additional 3 have gone missing since the storm. Birds have yet to be checked in Goliad. Quail also took it on the chin. Dr. Silvy's project had 12 quail radioed before the storm. He picked up 5 dead after, and 4 are missing, 3 confirmed alive.
​Although the ​refuge headquarters is open as usual, the auto tour route remains closed until we can fix a few spots. Folks can drive/walk to the Horseshoe Lake observation blind. Trails are mosquito infested. Refuge HQ/Visitor Center building and maintenance compound area are fine."

Monday, July 24, 2017

Little distractions while working outdoors


When we are working in the field, we are often distracted by frogs, butterflies, anoles and spiders. Right, Sandy?

Near a shelter in a pen for the Attwater's Prairie Chickens, we found at least three little tree frogs. One of them slurped a bug while Sandy moved in for a photo.



Saturday, July 15, 2017

A dragonfly's resting place


This dead dragonfly was in a corner of an arbor at a park. I didn't realize it was dead until I got close enough to touch its fragile wings. A live dragonfly rarely lets me get within 5 feet.

It seemed like a fresh death, but what happened? Note the butterfly wing under the dragonfly. Dragonflies are known to eat butterflies. Was this a fight to the finish? Or did the dragonfly and butterfly die natural deaths and simply get swept into the same place by the wind?