Maddin Update Sept. 8-9, 2016

From Native Prairies Association of Texas’ President, Kirsti Harms, on NPAT’s Maddin Prairie in Mitchell County, 9/8-9/2016:

The temperatures at Maddin were still high (94-99) on Thurs. and Fri. (the cool down came Saturday, but I couldn’t manage it schedule-wise). Arrived Thursday around 6:30 p.m. to some great skies and passing storms. Only got a little rain overnight. However, it’s apparent that they’ve had rain here. Very green. Flowers blooming. Lots of ripe prickly pear fruit. Bloodthirsty mosquitoes. And the power was out.

Luckily Phillip gave me a phone number and I tracked down the power company outage crew. A guy came out from Snyder and got the power on around 8:30.

Aside from the heat, it was really lovely. The mosquitoes gave me a break and I was able to have breakfast outside. There were lots of birds in the trailer vicinity, including a couple of cactus wrens. The first time they have been so close. There was bobwhite quail everywhere. And it looks like one of our burrowing owls is hanging out on the hill below the trailer. I hope I didn’t disturb it too much when I drove by multiple times. The notable missing birds were the scissortails. The nighthawks seem to have left as well. Seems kind of early…

Lots of insects and invertibrates out too. Dragonflies and dark swallowtails were cruising around the trailer, many tiny flying insects inside the trailer overnight (!). And I drove through clouds of American snouts west of Brady. Sure wish we had time for an invertebrate/reptile survey out there. Some day.

My main goal, besides fixing the irrigation pipes (again) and filling the water troughs, was to tackle the catclaw that was flourishing in the prairie dog town. I started with loppers but decided to whack it with the push mower. Got the worst of it mowed down. A good sight line is the prairie dogs’ best defense. I also brought out carrots, even though the grasses are looking really good right now. Saw four burrowing owls at the town, two followed me around while I mowed. It appears we have other burrowing critters in the town and different sized (small) burrows. Saw about 3 Mexican ground squirrels, a small diamondback rattlesnake and a couple of small (earless?) lizards while I was there.

Then there are the roads… Nearly invisible throughout the preserve. I only drove to the seedbank area and probably have an undercarriage full of grindelia… Got to mow! Only those who know where the roads are can get around at the moment.

-Kirsti

(note: if the photos do not come through on the email upload, it will be manually uploaded to the blog on the web – HoustonPrairie.org)

Amazing skies when I got there Thursday. There is a burrowing owl in this one…

Some sort of fuzzy galls.

The current state of our roads. This is one of the more visible ones. The grindelia papposa is going gangbusters!

The partridge pea was in full bloom.

Milkweed observed at the prairie dog town.

A tiny, but vivid portulaca at the prairie dog town.

More roads.

Finally figured out how to spot focus with my iPhone!

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