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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.

Those Were The Days My Friends

Prairie Notes #180
December 1, 2021

01) Those Were The Days My Friends
02) 
Field Report - November
03) New Species - November
04) New Trails Project Report
05) PrairieSky / StarParty Report
06) Manly Men Wild Women Hike
07) Land Management Report
08) Prairie Proverb - Mary Hopkin

01) Those Were The Days My Friends

 

As far as success goes, the year 2020 was a hard year to top. (Broadcast Hill acquisition was the biggie.) But 2021 was not a bad year for Tandy Hills and the Friends of Tandy Hills. For example, we attained some serious commitments from the City of Fort Worth regarding better protections for the natural area. We also have a new trail system under construction. (Fingers crossed it will be completed by end of year.) There were many other milestones for which we are grateful. So, let us now reflect on our 2021 successes (and trials) both large and small.

 

 

-No small event in 2021, was the election of a new United States President and Congress that is far more supportive of environmental protections than the previous administration. 

 

-The 12th annual, Manly Men Wild Women HIke was altered due to Covid-19 concerns. We also had the youngest-ever participant in,three-year old Adelaide Parker.

 

-In early January, City of FW Park & Rec crews did an experimental brush-hog treatment on  several acres at the trailhead.

 

-Very large, old Shumard Oak trees discovered in a remote part of Tandy Hills bottomlands.

 

-Native Plant Society of Texas- N. Texas Chapter, made a surprise donation of $1,000 to Friends of Tandy Hills

 

-The annual Trout Lily Walk w/ Sam Kieschnick was held virtually via Facebook Live. 150 people tuned in.

 

-FOTHNA partnered with, Fort Worth ISD students on a special I.D.E.A.S. program to help identify and solve real world problems and needs at Tandy Hills.

 

-Native Prairies Association of Texas hired, Carly Aulicky, as a much needed North Texas Outreach & Stewardship Director.

 

-We experienced one of the coldest winters in many years with temps dropping to zero at Tandy Hills.

 

-Fort Worth Park & Rec completed the boulder barrier that extends the length of the View Street frontage, helping better protect the park from large vehicles entering illegally.

 

-Design work on a new and improved trails system was completed in March and the actual trail work commenced in September.

 

-The first Prairie Posse on Broadcast Hill was held to clear invading brush and trees.

 

-On April 8, FOTHNA President, Don Young had an on-site meeting at Tandy Hills with, Richard Zavala, Director of FW Park & Recreation (PARD) and other city staff to plan and begin implementation of much-needed and better protection of Tandy Hills after a series of major vandalism events. FOTHNA received several vital commitments from Zavala.

 

-North Texas author, Amy Martin, visited Tandy Hills as part of research for her forthcoming book, Wild Dallas-Fort Worth: Explore the Amazing Nature of North Texas, in which Tandy Hills is prominently featured.

 

-A new species of, Pea Gall Wasp, was discovered at Tandy Hills, one of only two places recorded in the USA..

 

-The 6th annual Prairie/Sky Star/Party resumed LIVE in June after being on hiatus since 2019, due to Covid-19

 

-In early May, Tandy Hills was site of a Native Plant Society of Texas video shoot for their Level 4, Native Landscape Certification Program called, Stewardship of Native Plant Communities. The visit to Tandy Hills was led by, Suzanne Tuttle.

 

-Kids (and grownups) on the Prairie led hikes or gave presentations to various groups including, Girl Scouts, Tarrant County College Out & About class, Fort Worth Garden Club, among others.

 

-In preparation for the upcoming trail project, an archaeological survey was conducted at Tandy Hills.

 

-Tandy Hills was the featured location for a story on the importance of native plants by the new media concern, Fort Worth Report.

 

-FOTHNA co-founder, Debora Young, led a group of 30 people on a Nature Journaling event at Tandy Hills sponsored by the Fort Worth Library.

 

-North Texas Giving Day was our best year ever, netting $4,000.

 

-A very rare sighting of a Gray Fox at tandy Hills occurred in September.

 

-A major brush clearing event in November removed tons of privet opening up new views on the Iconic Meadow and created an access point to copse of giant Oak trees in the bottomlands.

 

-Thousands of volunteer hours were reported to Fort Worth Park & Rec Dept by Friends of Tandy Hills.

 

-New species increased by 221 in 2021.

 

-Twelve issues of Prairie Notes were created and distributed to more than 2,000 email addresses and seen by thousands more on Facebook.

 

DY

 

Looking west across, Tandy HIlls & Broadcast Hill on a perfect fall day in late November.

 

02) Field Report - November

 

November was mostly chilly and dry as the fall colors kicked in. Despite the chill, I observed quite a few critters. Bees, Dragonflies, Spiders, Reptiles and a few birds. Coyotes were heard but not seen. With winter 3 weeks away the prairie and woodlands will begin to shut down. But for now, the fall colors are glorius.

 


Aromatic Asters are having a spectacular year in scattered locations.

 


The word that comes to mind is, awash. The prairie is awash in Asters.

 


Common Checkered-Skipper Butterfly, clinging to a stem as cold weather approched in November.

 


Great Plains Ladies Tresses found in a remote location. Most are now fading away for the year.

 


The same Green Lynx Spider I observed hunting in mid-summer was busy guarding her egg sac in November.
 

Green Comet Milkweed is always a striking presence on a fall prairie.

 


Heather & Mike Foote staffed a table On November 6 to promote the Deep Time Walk.

 


A nice field of Maximillian Sunflowers brightened up a November afternoon.

 


An extra large, Texas Spiny Lizard catching some solar rays on a chillday in November. This is one of several observed.

 


Someone thought it was an alligator at first glance. 

 


It's looking rather fallish and style-ish at Tandy Hills in late November.

 


As of Thanksgiving Day the Oak trees were not quite at full fall color.

 


A mixed palette of color on a single branch of Red Oak.

 


Grass - Trees - Sky. Looking east from a high, tall grass meadow in late November.

 

03) New Species - November

 

There were 19 new species added in November, bringing the new count to 1637. Key obervations were made by, Kimberlie Sasan who documented a bunch of new species including, a couple of possible undescribed species of gall wasps. Sam Kieschnick, also documneted 9 new insect species. See a few notables below and the Tandy Hills iNat Project Page HERE: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/tandy-hills-natural-area-stratford-...

 


Wine-tinted Oenobotys Moth (Oenobotys vinotinctalis) photo by Sam Kieschnick

 


Harvestman (Eumesosoma roeweri) photo by Sam Kieschnick

 


Oak Gall Wasp (Philonix fulvicollis) photo by Kimberlie Sasan. One of several new species of Oak Gall Wasps.

 


Lobed Oak Gall Wasp (Andricus quercusstrobilanus) photo by Kimberlie Sasan

 

04) Trails Project Report

 

The trail crew, who drive up from Austin, spent a couple of weeks here in November finishing one new trail and strarting another. Several eroded trails were closed, as well. The newest trail hugs a high and scenic ridge on the western side of the park with awesome views to the west. That trail is in a remote area not often traveled by humans. You will love it.

 


A new trail in the NE corner of the park is under construction and should be finished by mid-December.
 

This area is so remote a previously unknown junk pile was discovered by a seasoned Tandy Hills hiker.

 


Like all new trails, this one (under construction) has a gentle grade and cuts through some scenic areas of the park.

 


Stunning views looking west from a new trail on a steep ridge in a fairly remote area of the park.

 

05) PrairieSky / StarParty Report

 

The last star party of the season was the best attended in about 2 years. There were 10 telescopes set up by members of the Fort Worth Astronomical Society and at least 60 people showed up to see and learn about the night sky. FWAS spokesperson, Pam Kloepfer, sends the following description of the December night sky for home-based star gazing.

 

"The early dark nights of December allow us to plunge into star gazing as soon as the sun sets. Venus will be insanely bright in the southwest. Look for a waxing crescent Moon accompanying it Dec 6. Beginning Dec 26, Mercury will join Venus. Look for the pair right after sunset. We may have a visible comet below Venus Dec 17. Use binoculars to scan that area! Both Saturn and Jupiter will continue to follow Venus. You will need a telescope to see their rings and moons, but you can see much in the sky without the aid of a scope. The winter constellations are returning! Look for giant Orion the Hunter, with his famous three-starred belt. The belt star pointing down points to his dog with the bright dog-star Sirius, and the upper-most belt star points to Aldebaran, the eye of Taurus the Bull; look for the Pleiades, a naked-eye star cluster, nearby. Even the Orion Nebula in the big guy's sword can been seen with the naked eye if you are patient enough. Search your smart phone’s app store to see the many apps available for identifying - and enjoying - the night sky!"

 

> > > The 2022 PrairieSky / StarParty schedule is now posted on our website HERE: https://www.tandyhills.org/events/prairie-sky-star-party

 

 

 

06) The Manly Men Wild Women Hike

 

The 13th Annual Manly Men Wild Women Hike traditionally takes place on New Years Day. As of November 1, we are planning to keep last years Covid protocol in place. That is, no organized scheduled hike. We will be awarding certificates of completion to all who complete the hike the first week of 2022 and send us photos. The hike will be marked and ready by January 1 with signs posted at trailhead and colored ribbons marking the trail. If plans change we will let you know.

 

 

 

07) Land Management Report

 

A small crew removed a ton of privet in late November from various locations around the park. A small copse of Live Oaks near View Street were freed from a straglehold of privet. Down in the bottomland, a small trail was created to gain access to the largest Shumard and Bur Oak trees in the park.

 


Nearly a block long pile of privet was removed and the stumps treated with herbicide.

 


Prior to clearing, this lovely copse of Live Oaks was completely hidden. In a few years it will create welcoming shade on the trail.

 


You can now easily access several giant Oaks from a new cut-thru near a creek, in the bottom. One Shummard Oak has a 48" wide base.

 


This giant Shumard Oak has a 48" wide base and can be easily accessed easily from the new cut-thru.

 

08) Prairie Proverb - Mary Hopkin

 

Those were the days my friend

We thought they'd never end

We'd sing and dance forever and a day

We'd live the life we choose

We'd fight and never lose

Those were the days, oh yes those were the days

La la la la la la

 

 

 

- Mary Hopkin, the Welsh singer, recorded Those Were The Days in, 1968. It was a worlwide smash hit. English lyrics by Gene Raskin from an old Russian song.

 

 

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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