Saturday, September 20, 2014

Super 'shroom pops up

After five days of rain, my yard has quite a collection of mushrooms. Most are rather bland looking, Of the beige variety.

But this big orangey-red mushroom stood out.

My buddy Marilyn L. says:
You have found "The Mushroom of Immortality," according to "The Mushroom Forager" website.
Ganoderma Lucidum or Reishi "is reputed to have analgesic, anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, antitumor, antiviral, anti-HIV and blood pressure reducing effect."
Now if you could harvest a crop and exact a dosage... Lana Pharma!
Alas, there is not enough to harvest a crop.

This one was found at the site where a big tree came down during Hurricane Ike, and the stump was ground into sawdust.

On the stump mound I have an old Cadillac hubcap that I picked up during a trip to the family farm in West Texas. The deep well of the hubcap is a perfect water dish for critters, mostly Bluejays that swoop in for a drink.

And I recently discovered a toad lives under the hubcap.

The toad and I both jumped when I picked up the hubcap to rinse it.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Morning encounter with a coyote

Spotted about 11 a.m. on a sunny September day.
You never know what you will see on the trails at Baytown Nature Center.

Last week -- before the rains -- I saw this coyote as I was leaving. I didn't get out of the car to snap these photos.

When I stopped the car to take a photo, the coyote turned around to avoid me but stayed on the road.
Earlier this month our dog went crazy when she saw a coyote trotting along the brush line behind our house.

Some land on the other side of the highway is being cleared, and I wonder of some of the wildlife is finding its way to our little strip along Slap Out Gully.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How long would it take you to make 1,000 seedballs?

Pinching off a bit of clay/soil/seed mixture, the students rolled grape-sized seedballs between their hands.

Many hands make quick work of two buckets of seedball mixture.

It took 40 sixth-graders about 90 minutes to produce more than 1,000 seedballs to toss into the prairie/wetlands at Sheldon Lake.

Making seedballs to distribute a coastal prairie seed mix follows a farming method popularized in Japan. After the dried seedballs are scattered, all that is needed is a good rain to dissolve the seedballs and give the seeds a chance to germinate.

The students also helped with sprigging and potting. On this rainy day, getting muddy was part of the learning process.
This big seedball will make about about 75 little ones.
When you have a broken arm, you perfect a one-handed technique for rolling seedballs.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Fish of the day: mullet

Not all the ninth-graders who arrive at Baytown Nature Center for the Back to the Bay program are happy about being outdoors. It can be too hot or too cold. And sometimes insects are an extra bother.

But all the students seem to enjoy catching something with cast nets during Aquatic Organism Collection.

Today's biggest catch was mullet.

With the seine net, students in waders hauled in grass shrimp, a small flounder and more comb jelly.
Mullet portrait

Trying to scoop up Comb Jelly caught in a cast net.

Another mullet for show-and-tell and then back into the water.

Then the rains came on this September morning.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Common Sanddragon may be watching you

A great collection of Ted Lee Eubanks' photos of Odonates of the Hill Country made me want to snap more photos of dragonflies around my house.

This specimen along Slap Out Gully looks like a Common Sanddragon.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Turk's Cap attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and bees

Today the stand of Turk's Cap at the butterfly garden was buzzing with activity. I saw more hummingbirds than butterflies as midday.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Moonlight paddle on Crystal Bay

Sunset on Crystal Bay.
Our moonlight paddle launched into Crystal Bay at Baytown Nature Center. 

An outfitter's daughter spotted a raccoon in the grass. As we pulled our kayaks into the water, the girl tried to entice the raccoon with bait left on the bank.

The raccoon didn't want to play. The girl hopped into a canoe with her dad.

The outfitter told us to stay in the bay until everyone was in the water. However an experienced kayaker who had brought her own paddle took off. She was headed toward the island that separates the bay from the ship channel traffic.

The rest of us waited while one of the coordinators paddled out to bring her back to the group.

Then we were off. I was in a 12-footer by myself. A young man from Madrid was in a 6-footer. I think we should have switched.

Moonlight on Burnet Bay.
As the sun set around 7:30, about 15 kayaks rounded San Jacinto Point into Burnet Bay.  That's when the mosquitoes found us.

The swarms were so miserable that some wanted to land and walk back to the launch site. I didn't understand why they thought the mosquitoes would leave them alone onshore.

Half of us continued on. If you kept moving and caught a breeze, the mosquites were not so bad.

And so there we were enjoying an evening on the water. There was moonlinght. And refinery lights.  And mosquitoes.

But hey, that's Baytown.