Four Burrowing Owls

NPAT President, Kirsti Harms, at Maddin Prairie (Mitchell County) – update Aug 16

Kirsti Harms visited NPAT’s Maddin Prairie in Mitchell County last weekend (August 6-7) and here is her report. Anyone wishing to visit Maddin Prairie and carpool with Kirsti from Austin or NPAT Executive Director, Pat Merkord, who lives in Conroe, please email . They will let you know dates of future visits.

Anyone living Maddin Prairie and who would like to volunteer there, please also contact Kirsti or Pat at Alternative email is .

Below is Kirsti’s update and photos of Maddin Prairie:
Date: Sun, Aug 7, 2016 at 8:33 PM

Subject: Maddin update Aug 16


I went to Maddin this weekend, but took my time getting there, since it is very hot out. I arrived Sat. evening around 8 p.m. and it was 94 degrees. It was in the upper 90s when I left around noon Sunday. (I did stay at a hotel in town.)

Since I was out there alone, my only goal was to fill the water troughs. Good thing I came out though. The big trough was completely dry. I’ve never seen that happen before. Hope it doesn’t have a leak. Our leopard frog didn’t make it. I fiddled with the darn irrigation pipes again—they keep coming apart. But managed to fill the storage tank which will drain into the water trough. Hope that takes care of things until next month. I’ll head out again in early September.

Things were pretty quiet overall. Did see lots of quail, scissortail flycatchers, meadowlarks and Cassins sparrows. About 10 common nighthawks were flying low in the morning. Saw 5 burrowing owls at the prairie dog town! See pics. They were not very shy and I got pretty close in my car. They actually scolded me when I got out of the car. I took some carrots to the prairie dogs since things are kind of crispy right now. They seem to be doing okay. Saw a horned lizard with a strange red head. I hope he was okay. Could he have been doing that blood squirting thing? He was moving kind of slowly but seemed okay otherwise.

We REALLY need to mow. The catclaw in the prairie dog town is getting high. I can hit that with the push mower. But the roads are now almost impassible. I didn’t go to the lower part of the preserve because I could barely find the road and was picking up all kinds of debris, not to mention dodging mesquite branches. The sawtooth daisy (grindelia papposa) is everywhere. I’m amazed I haven’t gotten a flat out here yet… Lots of prickly pear fruit this year.

My next official trip is scheduled for the weekend [at beginning of October]
. Let me know if you want to go out there. I understand that the road to the state park is open again…


Maddin Update 12/2015 by Kirsti Harms


Read this blog and see more photos by Kirsti Harms, NPAT President, on NPAT’s largest property – Maddin Prairie – in Mitchell County.

HNPAT members Kelly Walker and Pauline Singleton and perhaps others have joined Pat Merkord, Executive Director of NPAT, on her work or survey trips to Maddin. Kirsti travels to Maddin from the Austin area.

Anyone who wishes to visit one of NPAT’s prairie, just email and your email will be forwarded to the proper person. From the Houston area, most times when Pat Merkord visits a prairie, she will be glad to take people who wishes to accompany her.

Visit Prairies All Over Texas with NPAT

Visit prairies in Mitchell County, Walker County, Harris County, and Bowie County by joining NPAT staff in plant/wildlife surveys.  For Texas Master Naturalists, ask your local chapter as to whether the hours would count as volunteer hours.
See below for specifics

Field Trip for Volunteers To Maddin Prairie Preserve – May 11th – 17th

Field Trip for Volunteers To Maddin Prairie PreserveMitchell County, Texas near Colorado City
Saturday & Sunday May 16 & 17, 2015 and/or Week of 11-15 May

Join the Native Prairies Association Staff to Survey Breeding Birds, Document Plants, Butterflies & Animals, Assist in Mesquite Control Project, Gate/Sign Installation. Prairie Dog and Horned Lizard Monitoring. Urgent Need for Volunteers!

We are interested in forming carpools from Austin, Fort Worth, Dallas and Houston for the weekend or during the week. Campsites are available and motel/lodging can be found in nearby Colorado City.  We may be able to provide some camping equipment and food will be provided for those that attend. We received grants that provided funds for mesquite control but we need volunteers to help cut and treat mesquite to meet our match. All our spring surveys must also be conducted. If you are interested in volunteering and would like information to coordinate travel and accommodations please let us know. There is no charge from NPAT but gas money would be collected for any drivers..  Our Staff will be doing mesquite control all week and weekend and really need some volunteers to assist..  We desperately need volunteers so please consider and contact Pat or Phillip for more information.  Please pass the on to others that may be interested.

Call 936-827-7973 or email Pat Merkord or Phillip Quast


Sam Houston National Forest Field Trip – May 16th

View Wildflowers on Blackland Prairies in Sam Houston National Forest

On Saturday, May 16, 2015, the Houston Sierra Club and the Native Prairies Association of Texas will visit blackland prairies in Sam Houston National Forest (SHNF).  We will see wildflowers in bloom on prairies that are unique to SHNF and are indicative of the Fayette Prairie found farther west.  The U.S. Forest Service will act as our guide and show us how they manage these prairies using prescribed burning and other management methods.

Bring your day-pack, hat, three quarts of water, snacks, lunch, binoculars, hiking shoes, camera, field guides, and wear long pants a and a short-sleeved shirt.  Long pants are recommended due to briars and chiggers.  It will be warm so we will dress cool.

We will meet to carpool/caravan at 7:30 a.m. in the parking lot just west of Starbucks (look for Becks Prime) in Meyerland Plaza.  Starbucks fronts the 4700 block of Beechnut (south side of Beechnut, near the West Loop South).  Look for a silver Honda Civic with lots of bumper stickers.

If you would like to come you can sign-up on the Houston Sierra Club Meet-Up Site or contact Brandt Mannchen at 713-664-5962 or email Branndt Mannchen.  For those who want to meet us at the District Ranger Office at 9 am, the directions are as follows:

1) Drive from Houston about 55 miles north on Interstate 45 (I-45), past The Woodlands, Conroe, and Willis, and exit at New Waverly exit (FM 1375/SH 150/FM 1374).

2) Follow the detour signs on the north I-45 feeder road (east side of I-45) to FM 1374, turn left onto FM 1374, cross over I-45, and turn left onto the south I-45 feeder and follow it until you come to FM 1375.  Turn right onto FM 1375.

3) Go west about 2 miles on FM 1375 and on your right you will see a sign for the SHNF District Ranger Office, a driveway, and a parking lot.  Turn right into the driveway, park in the parking lot, and walk to the front of the District Ranger Office where we will meet.

For Directions from other parts of Texas email Brandt Mannchen or call 713-664-5962 (Brandt Mannchen).


Deer Park Prairie – Bird Survey and/or Workday, May 23

Saturday, May 23
Bird Survey at Deer Park Prairie

Bird survey, led by Pat Merkord or Damien Carey, 7:30 a.m.
(Rubber boots extremely advisable for walking on this wet prairie)
Workday At Deer Park Prairie
Workday, led by Glenn Merkord 9:00 a.m. to noon
Please RSVP to with your cell phone number


Talbot Prairie Field Trip – June 6th

Visit Rare Native Prairie!

Where: Talbot Prairie, Bowie County, near New Boston, TX
When: Saturday June 6, 8:00 – 12:00 AM

Join the Native Prairies Association Staff for its Annual Survey of Talbot Prairie – Help Identify Plants On A Rare 114 Acre Silveus’ Dropseed Prairie!

Field Trip Schedule

• 7:30 – 8:00 AM Meet at McDonalds in New Boston; 702 N McCoy Blvd, New Boston, Texas (CLICK FOR MAP)

• 8:00-12:00 AM Explore & Survey the Prairie

• 12:00-1:00 Lunch in New Boston/or at Prairie Site

Explore and identify native prairie plants
Help us survey this extraordinary prairie
This is a premier remnant prairie
Don’t Miss It!
(25$/person $5/child – pay at site, includes lunch)

To Register Contact Pat Merkord at 936-827-7973 or email Pat Merkord or Phillip Quast



June, July 2014 Prairie Activities in Photos

This gallery contains 15 photos.

To view all photos, go to To view list of albums, go to See links at bottom to individual albums. To view all photos, go to To view list of albums, go to Individual albums include: Deer Park Prairie Sam … Continue reading

NPAT’s Maddin Property

Highway 71

On the way: Hwy 71 between Llano and Brady is particularly stunning right now.

At the beginning of June, Kirsti Harms, President of Native Prairies Association of Texas (NPAT) & Austin resident, took a quick trip to NPAT’s  Maddin Prairie, a 1100 acre prairie in Mitchell County owned and managed by NPAT.   This was her report dated June 8, 2014:

“One of our neighbors is interested in leasing [Maddin Prairie] for short term grazing. I wanted to check out our fences. I’d like to discuss this option. It would help us fulfill our CRP  terms for 2014–we need to burn, mow or graze. [Note: CRP stands for Conservation Reserve Program. It’s a federal program that pays landowners to keep former cropland out of production, but it also requires some management practices. We need to burn, mow or graze some of our pastures this year.]
I thought it was supposed to be a sunny weekend in west Texas, but yesterday evening I noticed some dark looking clouds on the horizon.

Maddin Sky

Maddin Sky

By 4 a.m. the storm arrived with a second round at dawn. A weather radio or weather app would be very handy out there. It is so hard to get a reliable weather report for this area and these spring storms can get a bit scary. But I did get some really good sky shots and the temps were nice and cool…

Morning Sky at Maddin Prairie

Morning Sky at Maddin Prairie

Otherwise, they’ve recently had rain and it shows.Things are about as green as it gets out west. The creek is up a bit, but they’ll need a lot more rain to get it running again. Still lots of bird activity. Northern bobwhite quail were everywhere–running around wondering why I’m driving on their roads. Heard several scaled quail calling in the vicinity of the trailer.

I counted 30 prairie dogs when I approached the colony on foot. That’s the most I’ve been able to see at one time. They tend to run and hide when I get too close. A couple even stayed out and “barked” at me as I did a walk around the town.
On my way home, on Hwy 208 to San Angelo, a badger lumbered across the road! That’s my first badger sighting.”
NPAT’s Pat Merkord from Conroe plus Kirsti Harms and Phillip Quast from Austin make frequent trips to Maddin Prairie.  Anyone wishing to visit this prairie or help maintain this prairie (especially Mitchell County residents or Texas Master Naturalists), please contact