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Winter Notebook

Prairie Notes:
February 14, 2009

The 4th annual Fort Worth Prairie Fest is coming April 25. On that day, music, arts, dance, green business, environmental stewardship and floral fantasia will come together in joyful celebration. Until then, winter at Tandy Hills Natural Area holds many surprises for those who look closely. Come on in.

The lovely, lilliputian Trout Lily (Erythronium albidum) resides stealthily in the deep shadows of Tandy Hills, nestled by thick blankets of fallen leaves. Also (mis)known as, Dog's-tooth Violet (it's a lily, not a violet), they are a cheerful reminder that Spring is near. For me, they are also a symbol of the amazing endurance of THNA.

This is the earliest date I have seen them blooming at THNA. They have been arriving about a week earlier each of the past few years. The nodding flowers, framed by a pair of specked trout-colored leaves, vary in shade from pure white to pale violet with mustard yellow centers. When you go "fishing" for Trout Lilies, please tread carefully. They are considered rare in Texas.

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First Trout Lily of 2009. (2/10/09)

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Winter landscapes on the prairie have a special beauty. Powerful north winds created interesting cloud patterns in January. A hard freeze in late January combined with a dead-still, sunlit morning made the prairie feel like a distant planet.

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Mid-January, blue norther.

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A frosty, January morning on the prairie. Olive the Prairie Dog searches for signs of life.

I have observed more avian activity than usual at Tandy Hills this winter. The hawks are back after a brief absence. An owl was spotted last week. The sky and trees are filled with a variety of migratory birds. Dozens of Robin-like birds, only smaller, has been swarming back and forth from my yard to the security of the park. On more than one occasion, after climbing a steep hill and turning to face the setting sun, I have seen large flocks of ducks passing overhead, close enough to feel their wake. There is nothing more breathtaking.

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Robin or...? Dozens of them frequent THNA this time of year.

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Red-bellied Woodpecker

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Breathtaking flight over Tandy Hills

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Lament for a lost Tandy Hill.

"A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise." -Aldo Leopold (from, The Land Ethic in, A Sand County Almanac)

Come to the meadow and re-connect yourself with the natural world.