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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.

Diamond-Flowers Are Forever

Prairie Notes #186
June 1, 2022

01) Diamond-Flowers Are Forever
02) Field Report - May
03) New Species - May
04) Prairie Posse To the Rescue
05) PrairieSky / StarParty Report - June
06) City Nature Challenge a HUGE Success!
07) Open Space Initiative Passes
08) David L. Tandy Foundation Grant
09) 
Prairie Proverb - Sam Kieschnick

 

01) Diamond-Flowers Are Forever

 

As we learned in Prairie Notes #184, prairies are unpredictable. Most wildflower species were a month late in 2022 and, while the bio-diversity is off the charts, the usual carpets of wildflowers spilling across the prairies never really happened. It's a perplexing phenomena. But every year there is always an exception, one particular species, that has a better year than others. In 2005 it was Greenthread, for example, that carpeted the meadows. In 2016 it was Prairie Bishop Weed, and so on.

 

The exception in 2022 is Diamond-Flowers (Stenaria nigricans). They are having an especially good year at Tandy Hills. The dry, limestone-rocky prairies are the perfect environment for these tiny flowers also known as, Prairie BluetsTheir trumpet-shaped flowers range in color from white to pink to purple. They form patches and clumps that can cover large areas, which they did this year.

 

With a little rain and luck, they will bloom all summer and sometimes into the fall. They are currently dominating the Tandy Hills meadows, pairing elegantly with prairie grasses. In certain conditions, they resemble stars in the night sky. Come on in and get to know Diamond-Flower while they are still, um, twinkling.

 

 

DY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


These fall-bloomers almost glowed in the late evening light.

 

02) Field Report - May

 

The usual carpets of prairie wildflowers that people like to pose in did not materialize this year, as most species flamed out early. We did have a few rain events but the temps and ongoing drought must be having an effect with Diamond-Flowers being the exception this year.

 

However, the overall bio-diversity at Tandy Hills is amazing as ever. On a mid-May walk, I counted 31 wildflower species and several grasses in a lush, 20 foot square area. The sky was full of birds and flying insects and rabbits were seen on the trails. An early morning or late afternoon visit will show you just how enchanting the prairie is right now.

 

Herewith, in alpha order, are a few of the amazing species I observed in May.

 

 

DY

 


This photo montage shows how unpredictable prairies can be. 2021 on the left. 2022 on the right. Same spot, same date.

 


American Basketflower (Plectocephalus americanus)

 


Antelpehorn Milkweed (Ascelpias asperula), with unexplained red-ish variant color.

 


Barbara's Buttons (Marshallia caespitosa) like most other wildflowers, came and went faster than usual this year.

 


Bigfruit Evening Primrose (Oenothera macrocarpa)

 


Bracted Plantain (Plantago aristata) is a newly discovered species for Tandy Hills.

 


Compact Prairie Clover (Dalea compacta) just starting to fill out its purple cones.

 


An especially handsome and finely-cut, Compass Plant (Silphium lacininatum).

 


Eastern Cottontail Rabbit, trying to look invisible.

 


This is a screen shot of an, Eastern Yellow-bellied Racer  climbing a tree. Must-see video HERE.

 


Emerald Flower Scarab dining on a Roughleaf Dogwood. Size: 1/4" long

 


Fourvalve Mimosa (Mimosa quadrivalvis) going to seed earlier than usual.

 


Golden Prairie Clover (Dalea aurea) is one of three species of Dalea at Tandy Hills.

 


The mid-spring prairie grasses are thick and lush. 

 


This is an especially vibrant patch of Big Bluestem.

 


This is different. The Marriott promoted Tandy Hills on their Facebook page but did not credit the photographer. Me.

 


Meadow Flax (Linum praetense) had an extra good year, dropping lots of seed for 2023.

 


Narrow-leaved Purple Coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia) and the attandant, Spittlebug.

 


Prairie Brazoria (Warnockia scutellarioides) is one of the most striking prairie plants and native to Texas.

 


Prairie Indian Plantain (Arnoglossum plantagineum)

 


Queens Delight (Stillingia texana)

 

Stiff Greenthread (Thelesperma filifolium)

 


The May 13 sunset was one for the ages.

 


NOT color enhanced photo. The sunset was unbelievably beautiful.

 


On May 6, Suzanne Tuttle led a hike for 8 members of North Texas Master Naturalists at Tandy Hills. 

 


Texas Flower Scarab

 


I recommend taking a walk some evening down one of the beautiful, new, shady trails. They are a welcome sight in summer months.

 


Trailing Ratany (Krameria lanceolata) has a wonderfully complex flower and a spicy scent.

 


Two color variants of Wavyleaf Thistle (Cirsium undulatum)

 


White Milkwort (Polygala alba)

 


Yellow Puff (Neptunia lutea)

 

03) New Species Report - May

 

Thanks in part to the City Nature Challenge, Tandy Hills recorded a whopping, 34 new species in May bringing the new species total to 1709. There was also a nice variety of species recorded including, two new Sparrows, a new grass, various bugs and a rare gall wasp that is a new species to Texas. See a few highlights below and check out the Tandy Hills iNaturalist page for much more HERE: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/tandy-hills-natural-area-stratford-...

 


Cassin's Sparrow. Photo by, Brent Franklin

 


Grasshopper Sparrow. Photo by, Sam Kieschnick.

 


Rose Gall Wasp. Photo by, Don Young. Not previously recorded in Texas.

 


Hammer-jawed Jumping Spider (Zygoballus rufipes

 

04) Prairie Posse to the Rescue

 

It's been too long since we had a volunteer work day, but on the hot and humid morning of May 28th, a small group of heroes cleared a bunch of Johnson grass, Hedge Parsley amd other troublesome weeds and woodies form the wildflower meadows before they go to seed. It was hard but rewarding work. Big thanks to Sarah Geer, Phil Hennen, Jim Duncan and Debora Young. We could really use YOUR help. Join us next time.

 

 

 

 

05) PrairieSky / StarParty Report

 

We are very fortunate to have this free event at Tandy Hills. I urge you to attend. The next one is June 4th. Come early to check out the wildflowers and new trails. All ages welcome. No dogs, please. Here's a note from Fort Worth Astronomical Society rep, John McCrea:

 

"For our June 4th FWAS/Tandy Hills star party, we will have a combination of spring and summer constellations. The most popular can be seen in the night sky from about late March to late June. As we progress thru the season some of the constellations added are Scorpius, Lyra, and Cygnus (in the northeast). The remaining are Ursa Major, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, and Hercules.  The summer triangle (Vega, Deneb and Altair) will be visible later in the night."

 

 

 

06) City Nature Challenge a (HUGE Success!)

 

You did not read about it in the local media but, the 2022 City Nature Challenge (CNC) was BIG News or, as TP&WD urban biologist and iNat superstar, Sam Kieschnick, put it,

 

“The City Nature Challenge was a HUGE success! Dallas/Fort Worth was a global hotspot for naturalists.

 

Did you catch the GLOBAL part of that quote? Not only did DFW rank #1 in Texas and the USA, DFW also ranked #3 in the world for number of observations, #5 in number of species and #8 in number of observers. That means #1 in the USA, as well. Why is this relevant? Here again is Sam Kieschnick:

 

Let's talk relevancy... Who cares about these numbers? Obviously, we do! But more than that, we can use these numbers to justify that not only is there biodiversity here in the metroplex, but there is also an active constituency of naturalists that seek out and need this biodiversity. I use these numbers to demonstrate the need for wild areas in parks. Engaging with nature is a recreational act just as playing soccer or having a picnic is. Public park managers need to realize this and manage areas for us, and for the biodiversity that seeks out parks as refuges. Nature is necessary, and we've got the data to show it!

 

And guess which Texas county was #1 in all categories??? Tarrant County/Fort Worth led the DFW Metroplex area. The big question is WHY Tarrant County/Fort Worth? (Why even, Texas!?!) Other counties have more open space, more people and probably more species. Yet, Tarrant/FW consistently ranks #1 during the annual CNC event. There is something special going on here on a global scale and it deserves more media attention. Check out some of these stats from the 2022 Challenge:

 

 

 

 


The Texas stats show DFW on top.

 


Global stats rank DFW #1 in the USA. Amazing!

 

 

07) Open Space Initiative Passes

 

Mission accomplished in the May 10th bond election, Voters approved Prop. E to help fund open space acquisitions in Fort Worth. The $15,000,000 fund can go a long way in cleaning the air, control flooding and saving open land from development, forever. No tax increase either. Congrats to the Open Space team who did a good job in convincing City Council, Mayor and the voters that our natural environment matters. Friends of Tandy Hills are also proud to have played a big role in the acquisition the got the ball rolling: Broadcast Hill.

 


Broadcast Hill, adjacent to Tandy Hills, was the first Open Space acquisition.

 


Supporters gather in May 2020 to celebrate the acquisition of Broadcast Hill.

 

08) David L.Tandy Foundation Grant

 

Friends of Tandy Hills are proud to announce the receipt of a generous grant from the, David L. Tandy Foundation. David L. Tandy (1889 - 1966) was the father of Charles Tandy who turned his father's leather business into the Tandy Corporation. This particular branch of the Tandy family is not directly related to the namesake of the natural area, but nevertheless, their trustees took an interest in supporting our efforts. The grant is specified for removal of invasive species, one of our top initiatives. We are very grateful for their support.

 


A bronze bust at the entrance to the David L. Tandy Lecture Hall inside the Fort Worth Public Library.

 


David L. & his wife, Carmenn Tandy

 

09) Prairie Proverb - Sam Kieschnick

 

Who cares about these numbers? Obviously, we do! But more than that, we can use these numbers to justify that not only is there biodiversity here in the metroplex, but there is also an active constituency of naturalists that seek out and need this biodiversity. I use these numbers to demonstrate the need for wild areas in parks. Engaging with nature is a recreational act just as playing soccer or having a picnic is. Public park managers need to realize this and manage areas for us, and for the biodiversity that seeks out parks as refuges. Nature is necessary, and we've got the data to show it!

 


- Sam Kieschnick, Texas Parks & Wildlife Urban Biologist, describing the relevancy of the data collected at the, 2022 City Nature Challenge. 
Photo by, Scott Carson Ausburn

 

 

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.