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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.

Earth Day & Tandy Hills: A Natural Fit

Prairie Notes #160
April 1, 2020

01) Earth Day & Tandy Hills: A Natural Fit
02) Field Report - March
03) Membership Matters 50+-acres More Than Ever
04) New Species - March
05) Broadcast Hill News Update
06) Stitching the Prairie: The Art of Rebecca Shewmaker
07) PrairieSky / StarParty News
08) New Rules for Photographers
09) Kids & Family Fun (Indoors & Out)
10) Prairie Proverb - Astronaut, Mark Kelly
 

01) Earth Day & Tandy Hills: A Natural Fit
 

With the 50th anniversary of Earth Day coming up on April 22, how could I not write a few words about it? It occurred to me that Earth Day retools itself every year to address new and present dangers to our natural world. In 1969, an oil spill off the coast of California that killed more than 10,000 seabirds, dolphins, seals and sea lions, kick-started the movement to raise public awareness and change people's behavior. Earth Day was founded the following year.

 

Things had reached a crisis point and good people took action. Earth Week events took place in New York City and Philadelphia and was reported on each evening by Walter Cronkite and CBS News. Universities and public schools held events to clean up trash and promote recycling efforts. Illustrator, Walt Kelly, created an anti-pollution poster that resonated with millions of people featuring his comic strip character, Pogo, and the now famous quotation,

 

"We have met the enemy and he is us." 

 

Over the years since 1970, Earth Day takes on fresh significance as new threats appear. Fifty years on, the threat from our own government to undo or dilute previous, hard-won protections is a rallying cry with calls for action not unlike those of 1970. 

 

In 2004, the threat of industrial fracking in and around Fort Worth, led to the formation of Friends of Tandy Hills. When a fracking company bought Broadcast Hill, the group sprang into action to insure the botanical diversity and rarity of Tandy Hills, would not be compromised. The result of that passion led to concious raising inititatives such as, Prairie Fest, Kids on the Prairie, Manly Men Wild Women Hike, Brush Bash, Prairie Posse, PraireSky / StarParty and the 2016 Tandy Hills BioBlitz.

 

Prairie Fest was intentionally scheduled to coincide with Earth Day which was also when the wildflowers were especially showy. Thousands of people took notice. Awareness was raised. Behaviors were changed. And, as of a few weeks ago in an unexpected turn of events, the very land that was once to be a fracking site is now part of Tandy Hills and protected from fracking.

 

To further boggle the mind and strain credulity, former Fort Worth Mayor, Tom McCann and City Council voted to purchase the land we now call Tandy HIlls on, you guessed it, April 22, 1960. Earth Day and Tandy Hills share not only a purpose in raising awareness and a call to arms but, also, a birthday. 

 

Earth Day never ends at Tandy Hills. Happy 60th!

 

Walt Kelly's, Earth Day poster, 1970. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walt_Kelly>

 

 

02) Field Report - March

 

Spring is written all over these 200+ acres. A whole lot of rain and just enough sunshine have wiped away the winter blahs and illuminated all the bright colors of the wildflower spectrum. Insects, lizards, birds and a few mammals have taken note. What about youuuuuu?

 


March 3 sunset

 


Fringed Bluestar in a field of Purple Indian Paintbrush
 

Fringed Bluestar up close smells heavenly

 

March 7 moonrise

Blue-eyed Grass

Fringed Puccoon

Stork's Bill (Erodium texanum)

Eastern Swallowtail gorging on Wild Hyacinth

Blue Meadow Flax

Buckeye Butterfly

March 19, after the rain

Cooper's Hawk hunting dinner

Prairie Celestial has spread widely at Tandy Hills


I spotted a striking pale specimen in late March


Texas Paintbrush (Castilleja indivisa)

A pollinator's eye view of Texas Paintbrush

There are supposedly two species of Paintbrush (Castilleja) at Tandy Hills: Purple (purpurea) and Texas (indivisa).
Both of these are variations of purpurea.

But I think we may have a few hybrids. These are probably Texas Paitbrush but don't look anything alike.

Both species come in uncommon hues. Pictured are two hues of Castilleja purpurea. I've observed at least 5 hues.

Acres of Purple Indian Paintbrush cover the top of Broadcast Hill.

Debora Young sketching on Broadcast Hill on a sunny day in March.

Cloth of Gold

Martch 26 above Tandy Hills

03) Membership Matters

 

This will be last plea for Membership donations until next year. Any amount would be helpful.

 

With the addition of 50-odd acres, our land management reposnsibilities have grown. Your donations are VITAL to our habitat restoration and educational programs. They help pay for improved trails, signage and keep Tandy Hills in the public eye. Thank you!

 

Become a Friend here: https://www.tandyhills.org/donate

 

 

 

04) New Species - March

 

Another visit by, Texas Parks & Wildlife biologist, Sam Kieschnick, and several other naturalists helped increase the species count by 33. The current total is 1301. Below is the full list from March 2020, and photos of some notables including, one never before listed on iNaturalist or the esteemed, Bug Guide. Tandy Hills is truly a special place!

 

https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/tandy-hills-natural-area-stratford-...

 

American Field Pansy (Viola bicolor), Beach Pearlwort (Sagina decumbens), Bee Fly (Genus Sparnopolius), Biting Midges (Family Ceratopogonidae), Cherry Fruitworm Moth (Grapholita packardi), Common Conehead (Genus Neoconocephalus), Dance Flies (Genus Hilara), Dance Flies (Genus Rhamphomyia), Distinct Quaker (Achatia distincta), Elf Shoe Stink Bug (Menecles insertus), Elongate-bodied Springtails (Subfamily isotominae), False Blister Beetles (Sparedrus aspersus), Filigreed Moth (Chimoptesis pennsylvaniana), Flat-faced Longhorn Beetle (Ataxia crypta), Hoary Bowlesia (Bowlesia incana), Leaf Miner (Superfamily Gracillarioidea), Lilac Oysterling Mushroom (Panus conchatus), Marbled Fungus Weevil (Euparius marmoreus), Mournful Thyris Moth (Thyris sepulchralis), Pseudoscorpions (Order Pseudoscorpiones), Pug Moth (Eupithecia longidens), Shield Bearer Moths (Genus Heliozela), Soldier Beetle (Ditemnus perforatus), Spring Starflower (Ipheion uniflorum), Sulcate Sunhead mushroom (Heliocybe sulcata), Tortricine Leafroller Moths (Archips goyerana), True Moss (Genus Funaria), Two-lined Leatherwing Beetle (Atalantycha bilineata), Variegated Cutworm Moth (Peridroma saucia), Velvety Bark Beetle (Penthe pimelia), Water Boatmen (Family Corixini), Wounded-tree Beetle (Genus Nosodendron) and Xyelid Sawflies (Family Xyelidae).

 


American Field Pansy (Viola bicolor), Sam Kieschnick

 


Bee Fly (Genus Sparnopolius). Sam Kieschnick found a very rare bee species that is in decline.

 


Filigreed Moth (Chimoptesis pennsylvaniana), Sam Kieschnick

 


Pseudoscorpions (Order Pseudoscorpiones), Sam Kieschnick

Mournful Thyris Moth (Thyris sepulchralis), by aakthtar.

Tortricine Leafroller Moths (Archips goyerana), Brent Franklin. Brand new species to iNaturalist and Bug Guide.

 

05) Broadcast Hill News Update

 

- The Coronavirus has temporarily slowed down the real estate transaction process to finalize purchase of Broadcast Hill but, worry not, it will come to pass. Smart people are working on it right now.

 

 

- In other news, the Fort Worth Weekly has reliably covered goings-on at Tandy Hills since 2004. In one of his last articles before being laid off by the Weekly due to COVID-19, veteran reporter, Jeff Prince, penned this report titled, Broadcast News.

 

https://www.fwweekly.com/2020/03/04/broadcast-news/

 


Jeff Prince
 

- Also out in March was another fine reporting piece by, John Kent, of, Green Source DFW, encapsulating the land acquisition by the city:

 

https://www.greensourcedfw.org/articles/city-fort-worth-saves-urban-prai...

 

 

 

- I paid a visit to Broadcast Hill on March 21 and was utterly bewitched by the quantity of Purple Indian Paintbrush that covered several acres in all directions. (See more pics in Field Report.) It looks even better now. I urge you to witness this botanical phenomena ASAP. Here's a 360 degree short video of my visit:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNkFcFa2JXU&fbclid=IwAR1USIlJUrDlvZfObE6...

 

The prairie formerly known as, Broadcast Hill.

 

- FInally, all pledges donated to Friends of tandy Hills for the acquisition of Broadcast Hill have been received. As soon as city hall reopens we will be handing off a check to the City of Fort Worth for, $64,409.76. The following people who made donations large and small deserve another round of applause:

 

Anonymous, Arlington Conservation Council, Corinna Benson, Kim & Ray Conrow, Gary & Michele Douglas, Heather & Mike Foote, Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area, Fonda Fox, Jerry & Suzanne Halbert, Shayna Johnson, Julie & Tracy Maxwell, Dr. G.W. & Karlee Marcom, Dr. P.K. Marcom & Family, Jim Marshall, Roberta Marshall, Tom & Becca Motley, Maggie Park, Wendy & Paul Roach, Dick Schoech, Tommy & Linda Simmons, Valerie Taber, Tarrant Coalition for Environmental Awareness, Leslie Thompson, Suzanne Tuttle, West Meadowbrook Neighborhood Association, Lori Whitworth and Elsa Zamarippa.

 

06) Stitching the Prairie: The Art of Rebecca Shewmaker

 

I recently became aware of an artist named, Rebecca Shewmaker, who creates landscape paintings using hand-colored fabirc and thread. In 2019 she did series on DFW Parks & Preserves that includes 4 views of Tandy Hills that are amazing works of art. Check out her website for a lot more.

 

https://rebeccashewmaker.com/portf…/dfw-parks-and-preserves/

 


Tandy Hills as rendered in thread and fabric by, Rebecca Shwemaker.

 

07) PrairieSky / StarParty News

 

COVID-19 concerns canceled the 2020 debut in March. The April event will most likely be canceled, too. But either way, here's what to expect in sky above Tandy Hills on April 25, courtesy of FW Astronomical Society rep, Pam Kloepfer:

 

The Big Dipper is prominently in the sky as the Spring unfolds. Take a look at the handle and draw a line to the first bright star you see. This is Arcturus, the brightest star in the constellation Bootes, the Herdsman. If you continue the line, you will come to Spica, the brightest star in the largest constellation of the zodiac, Virgo. To the north of Spica lies the Virgo Cluster, an array of galaxies. You will need dark skies and a telescope to see them. Venus will be shining brightly in the west, and has phases like the Moon. Through a telescope, you will see that Venus is at a crescent phase, as is also the Moon on April 25.

 

 

08) New Rules for Photographers

 

New rules for commercial photographers are the same as the old rules except this year they are backed up by City of Fort Worth Code Violation notices posted along View Street. We have also installed new trail markers so there will be no doubt and, new signs warning you to BEWARE of snakes, field rats, fire ants, wasps and ticks. (Ticks are esepecially bad this year.)

 

Stay on marked trails; Don't pose in the wildflower meadows; Don't pick anything or you will need to also beware of Don Young.

 


Jesse Tate and Don Young planting a trail marker.

 

 

 


Newly printed signs from the City of Fort Worth will be installed ASAP.

 

Your cooperation is appreciated!

 


No joke.

 

09) Kids & Family Fun (Indoors & Out)

 

Texas Parks & Wildlife created the kid-friendly program, Texas Outdoor Family, to help families learn camping skills. Due to COVID-19, they are hosting a series of Live and recorded programs on Facebook starting April 1st concluding with a big, Family Camp In on May 2nd. Check out the complete schedule HERE:

 

https://www.facebook.com/TexasOutdoorFamily/

 

 

- Author and naturalist, MIchael Smith, who co-edits the esteemed, Post Oak & Prairie Journal, is also known for his kid-friendly, Treefrog Times. The new issue is a delight for all ages and geared for the current times we live in. Check it out HERE: 

 

https://jsdragons.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/treefrog-times-mar-b-2020.pdf

 

 

10) Prairie Proverb

 

"One of the things I missed most while living in space was being able to go outside and experience nature. After being confined to a small space for months, I actually started to crave nature — the color green, the smell of fresh dirt, and the feel of warm sun on my face."

 

- Scott Kelly, retired NASA astronaut who spent nearly a year on the INternational Space Station. On March 21, he wrote an essay on tips to cope with isolation from COVID-19. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/21/opinion/scott-kelly-coronavirus-isola...

 

 

 

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.

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