July 23, 2020

Mary the Prairie Fairy

After the rains, my friend Mary and I did some social-distance prairie walking. We tromped around an undisclosed location in Brazoria County, south of Brazos Bend State Park. The ticks were out, and so were the wasps, and dragonflies were everywhere. Too bad many insects weren't cooperative for taking photos. Lots of new species today and fun with a friend ta boot!

Posted on July 23, 2020 21:40 by dirtnkids dirtnkids | 43 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 15, 2020

Lawther DPP Seed Collecting

Visiting this remnant prairie is never disappointing! The hunt for the meadowpink (viewed last time) wound up being a up-to-the-neck swim through tall grasses, rattlesnake master, and generally unmowed goodness. Insect diversity made it difficult to focus on the task at hand: collecting seed for Katy Prairie Conservancy.

It was hot. It was muggy. And the ticks were out (I picked off 5). I couldn't wait to come home and post-process the Canon photos ... several species had me stumped in the field. Thankfully, iNaturalist is always good for helping out this exuberant 'prairie fairy.'

PS - For some reason, the post-processed images didn't make the 'Lawther Deer Park Prairie' place list, even though I use the exact same address for all phone and camera observations (1222 E. Purdue Lane).

Posted on July 15, 2020 21:36 by dirtnkids dirtnkids | 21 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 08, 2020

Pocket Prairie: Two Months of Insect Diversity

I thought it to be about time for me to make note of the insect diversity that has resulted from the pocket prairie installation 5/2020. So in the past two months -- that is, early May through early July -- here are the various insects seen on, in, and around the pocket prairie garden. Keep in mind that we also have a creek habitat out back, so many of those creature (dragonflies, robber flies) also come visit the prairie to eat. The most recent photo of P. henei (robber fly) is shown with a bee meal in his grasp.

Circle of life peeps. And with a prairie ecosystems, all the players are HERE. Plant it and they will come!

Posted on July 08, 2020 18:23 by dirtnkids dirtnkids | 120 observations | 3 comments | Leave a comment

June 24, 2020

Seabourne ... After The Rain

While waiting for some fellow CPC TMN buddies to catch up with me, I thought I would go iNat the demo gardens for some insect diversity. Not disappointed! While ducked down 'in the weeds,' passersby would ask me about the dead fish. I went to investigate. Hundreds if not more than a thousand fish of all sizes were floating belly-up, eyes bugged, apparently having died a horrible death. Hypoxia is the likely culprit, but without water testing capacity, it's hard to say.

Here are the species I logged. The Rambur's forktail brothel in the recovering baccarus (the city chopped them all down in winter) was my favorite spot of the day.

Posted on June 24, 2020 20:09 by dirtnkids dirtnkids | 24 observations | 1 comment | Leave a comment

June 23, 2020

Deer Park Prairie ... Last Video Shoot

Della and I put on our rubber boots and sloshed through a very wet Deer Park Prairie to finish some B-roll video / photos for the last in the NPAT video series. Liatris and gaura were finally showing their beautiful skyward 'legs', as were all our exoskeleton little friends. A couple of new insect species delighted me to no end (they always do, don't they?), so I'm hoping the iNat community will help me with identification in those. I scrubbed some decent photos from video taken of the 'new guys.' Shooting the brand new tiny peeps with the big lens is not preferred.

I really look forward to seeing the finished product linked on NPAT's education prairie. Let's keep Texas prairie ... and teach it to future generations!


Posted on June 23, 2020 23:49 by dirtnkids dirtnkids | 24 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 29, 2020

Brazos Bend SP - 7 Day Itch

Life is just barely slowing for the summer. Spring Interns are 'graduated' which means I have time to myself for an entire Friday. No Saturday classes to plan for or communicate about! Two of the CPC interns joined Scott and me on today's hike, all social-distancing, of course.

We took the prairie walk so they could see all three species of Vervain and distinguish between the three: V. brazilian, V. halei, and V. xutha. The dragonflies were all out, as were the mating butterflies. The surprise of the day was the Reakirt's Blue in the prairie, as well as the GIANT wolf spider off the path. Scott mistook it for a tarantula, it was so big.

After our friends parted ways, we marched on a bit further. Sadly, photos of juvenile Barred Owls did not turn out well enough for ID, but while Scott was bench-napping, I was able to record some parent calling back and forth with cicadas singing in the background.

The rookery was also in full swing. I found it funny that iNaturalist had 'monkey' right up top to name the juvenile ibises. I guess AI was confused by the striped bills and the ugly little faces (only a Mama could love).

All-in-all, another great hike at BBSP, third week straight. We'll see if next Friday pans out for another day trip. crossing fingers

Nice to see you again, #MyBrazos. (PS - I included the handful of observations from yesterday's volunteer stint.)

Posted on May 29, 2020 22:48 by dirtnkids dirtnkids | 31 observations | 2 comments | Leave a comment

May 22, 2020

Brazos Bend SP - Getting OUT!

Last Friday went so well that Scott and I went for another prairie and live oak loop walk, particularly looking for Texas invasive species. Found some!

Dragonflies were the show-stoppers today, as was the robber fly (Promachus hinei), that I first dismissed as a dragonfly, but because I am inclined to shoot everything, it was a Life species for me. As was the wasp (Pseudodynerus quadrisectus) and the Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta).

On the Pilant Slough trail, I heard the call of an Acadian Flycatcher! My husband didn't believe me, so I played the call on iBird, then recorded our observation doing the same, then found the bird. It pays to do Empidonax 'homework.' (I knew it would pay off one day.)

It was a great day. Every walk at BBSP is like walking a different park. You never know what you'll find there.


Posted on May 22, 2020 22:50 by dirtnkids dirtnkids | 76 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 15, 2020

Brazos Bend SP - First Time Since COVID

When I asked Scott where he wanted to go on his Friday off, it was a resounding 'Brazos Bend.' The weather was threatening to be wet later in the day, so we got our day passes trekked out early to walk the prairie trail. We were not disappointed!

Swallowtails were everywhere, as were other Lepidoptera species. And though we heard several Prothonotary warblers, we were only able to get a glimpse of two. Same for the Northern Parula who was heard but never seen. It was great to be out hiking the park -- not volunteering in any capacity -- with my best friend and husband in tow.

Highlight of the day was hearing the prettiest song from the top of the oaks; it was a single Painted Bunting. Sadly, as we approached, he quit singing (before I could record), and I got one lousy, blurry picture of him before he was off and away. Dang birdies. :D

Posted on May 15, 2020 21:02 by dirtnkids dirtnkids | 40 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 14, 2020

ID'ing and Pressing Flowers with Della at L-DPP

It's easy to social distance where there are only two of you! I held the video recorder and Della engaged the digital audience while we waded together through a blooming Deer Park - Lawther Prairie. We were specifically on the hunt for wildflower, especially those we can cut and PRESS. The rain held off until we were done shooting, and I felt pretty privileged when a firefly flew right into my hand. Weather and bugs are not usually so cooperative.

Highlight of the day were the two new insect species at the Black Jack daisy patch (where we caught honey bees for the previous video) and the ladies' tresses orchids that were in bloom. It made up for the fact that liatris and guara weren't quite showy ... yet. Next month.

Posted on May 14, 2020 21:09 by dirtnkids dirtnkids | 24 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 12, 2020

Belated Mother's Day at Challenger 7

This is the first outing my mother and I have had together in nearly two months. We social-distanced -- even from each other -- wearing our masks and refraining from getting into each other's bubbles. It was weird riding in a car fully 'faced up' with someone in the car with me. (So far, I've only driven with members of my household.)

At any rate, Challenger 7 was quite the dragonfly place to be! I had hoped to see more birds (we heard several, but saw nary a one), but what the placed lacked in feathered wings it sure made up with the double-doubles. Several new species made my life list today, and the subjects were cooperative for shooting!

Posted on May 12, 2020 00:20 by dirtnkids dirtnkids | 22 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment