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Doug Haass, Deer Park Photographer, Future HNPAT Blogger

Praying Matis - Doug Haass - largerDoug Haas, Deer Park Resident and Photographer, has started taking photos of  Deer Park Prairie and has volunteered to blog  and help with our website.  See his recent photos at http://www.doughaassphotography.com/Wildlife/Deer-Park-Prairie/ ;  browse through the rest of his photos at http://www.doughaassphotography.com/

Thanks, Doug – I  can’t wait to see more of your photos!

 

 

Praying Mantis Closeup by Doug Haass

 

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Birding at Deer Park Prairie on May 24, 2014, led by Damien Carey

Birding at Deer Park Prairie on May 24, 2014, led by Damien Carey

Damien Carey led a wonderful bird tour on May 24, 2014 at Deer Park Prairie. He explained the relationship of the birds and the prairie. At the beginning of the tour we saw a white-tailed kite – parent and offspring and he explained how the parent bird was trying to keep the offspring in the air. Some of the other birds seen were:
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Little Blue Heron
Cattle Egret
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
White Ibis
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Killdeer
Laughing Gull
Rock Pigeon
Eurasian Collared-Dove
White-winged Dove
Mourning Dove
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Chimney Swift
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
large falcon sp.
Eastern Kingbird
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Loggerhead Shrike
Blue Jay
American Crow
Purple Martin
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Common Yellowthroat
Eastern Towhee
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Great-tailed Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Sparrow
The wildflowers were also in bloom.
Thanks to Debbie Copeland Luhn for sending this photo. Attendees, please send me more photos for posting.

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Meadowlark Training Wednesday, June 4 & Saturday, June 7

Meadowlark Training Flyer

Still time to sign up for Meadowlark Training – please join us to learn how to sing for the prairie!

This a special two-part training (1) Teaching theory class at Katy Prairie Conservancy Home Office (3015 Richmond Ave., Houston 77098) on June 4 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm and (2) a field training at Willow Waterhole Prairie Management Area on June 7 from 9:00 am -11:00 am. Click here to register . If you cannot make the Saturday field trip, you may make that up in July.

See below for (1) how this works and (2) times/dates for the classes. (A similar class will be offered once more – in July – if you cannot make it this week.)


How this Works:
The idea is to learn to tell stories in the classroom about our pocket prairies, city prairies, and other prairies currently without interpretive guides. Then comes field practice on a (pocket) prairie. After that Meadowlark trainees can followed trained Meadowlarks (prairie interpreters) when they give tours until the trainees feel comfortable giving his/her own tours. There will also be written resources online.

When people request tours, an email will go out to who had taken the class. Whoever feels comfortable leading that particular group can volunteer. No ceremony when you switch from follower to Meadowlark guide – just volunteer to do a tour. We would like people who take the training eventually be able to lead tours, but there is no obligation or requirements that they do.

Possible locations: Deer Park Prairie, MD Anderson Pocket Prairie, Hermann Park Pocket Prairies (Whistlestop & Bayou Savannah), Buffalo Bayou Park Pocket Prairie, Willow Waterhole Prairie (SW Houston) – possiblities – Marysee Prairie(?) in E. Texas, UH Coastal Prairie (?).

Classes
​​
A special two-part training (1) Teaching theory class at Katy Prairie Conservancy Home Office (Houston) on June 4 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm and (2) a field training at Willow Waterhole Prairie Management Area on June 7 from 9:00 am -11:00 am. Click here to register
A special two-part training (1) Teaching theory class at Katy Prairie Conservancy Home Office (Houston) on July 2 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm and and (2) a field training at Lawther – Deer Park Prairie on July 5 from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm (evening tour). Click here to register.

This is part of the 2014 Power Series. To see more events of the power series, go to http://prairiepartner.org/page/prairie-power-series

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Seed Collecting & Wildlife Viewing on the Katy Prairie

On Friday, May 16, Sue & Bob Barry and Judy Thomas joined Lan Shen at a seed collecting trip to Warren Lake of the Katy Prairie.  Sue and Bob are currently taking the Texas Master Naturalist Class with the Gulf Coast Chapter and Judy is a GCMN.

Seed Collecting trip to the Katy Prairie on May 16, 2014

Seed Collecting trip to the Katy Prairie on May 16, 2014

Enjoying the unseasonable cool weather, we hunted and collected little barley (Horteum pusillum) seeds, since the dicanthelium (rosette grass) was not quite ripe.  Even though none of us were birders, at Warren Lake we saw a red-winged blackbird fly by.  We then went to Rock Hollow Creek, where we saw a scissor-tailed flycatcher landing here and there, splaying out its tail during landing to make an inverted Y.  There also we found a red harvester ant mound and followed its quite long trail.

Wonder why we are collecting seeds?  Read about it and join our email list for upcoming collecting dates at Prairie Seed Council of Texas webpage; more info also at Seed Collecting Resources for the Coastal Prairie Seed Increase Program.

 

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Blackland Prairie of the Sam Houston National Forest

On Saturday, May 17, Brandt Mannchen led a group of 11 who visited the Blackland Prairie of the Sam Houston National Forest.  This was both a 2014 Prairie Power Series event as well as an NPAT field trip. Half of the group carpooled from Houston.

US Forest Service Ranger Rusty Plair explaining to HNPAT visitors about restoring prairies in the Sam Houston National Forest.

US Forest Service Ranger Rusty Plair explaining to HNPAT visitors about restoring prairies in the Sam Houston National Forest.

Meeting us at the U.S. Forest Service District Ranger Office were Warren Oja (District Ranger), Dano Jauregui, and Rusty Plair.  Rusty explained that remnant blackland prairies “occur as small (2-40) acre openings embedded within the forested landscapes. [The] high quality sites are essentially treeless, dominated by perennial grasses [such as] little bluestem, Indian grass”. Several of these prairie openings were scattered throughout the Sam Houston National Forest.

At the largest prairie opening - formerly full of King Ranch bluestem - now full of Indian Prairie Plantain (Arnoglossum plantagineum)

At the largest prairie opening – formerly full of King Ranch bluestem – now full of Indian Prairie Plantain (Arnoglossum plantagineum)

Because of an Ironman Race in the area that was causing traffic jams, they decided to first show us the largest compartment and after that, a smaller one that was recently burned.

Rusty explained that before their restoration, that first area was full of the extremely bad exotic invasive, King Ranch bluestem that was herbicided. Native grasses were planted using a seed drill following that. We saw the grasses – many Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) – that they planted and the many prairie Indian plantain (Arnoglossum plantagineum), Prairie acacia (Acacia angustissima), and other forbs grew from the soil, after the herbicide treatment.

At the largest compartment, which was almost all exotic invasive King Ranch bluestem before restoration.

At the largest compartment, which was almost all exotic invasive King Ranch bluestem before restoration.

After viewing that area, we went to lunch and after lunch to Compartment 2, a smaller prairie opening that was burned about two months ago.

Compartment 2 was breath taking! Many of us have never seen so much purple coneflowers together!  The whole field was full of the Echinacea atrorubens! The prairie acacia, ratany (Krameria lanceolata), rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolia), and many other grasses and forbs were at this very biodiverse blackland prairie.

Thanks to our US Forest Service guides who gave up their Saturday and to Brandt Mannchen for organizing this wonderful, informative trip.  Some photos are below.  More are posted at the HNPAT Flickr site: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hnpat/ , “2014 Power Series Event” album.

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Bird Tour of Deer Park Prairie: May 24, 2014, 8:00 a.m. RSVP required.

ImageDamien Carey, who lead the bird tour at the Prairie Celebration, has agreed to lead another bird tour of Deer Park Prairie on Saturday, May 24, 2014 at 8:00 a.m.  RSVP is required to HNPAT@TexasPrairie.org.  We will email parking instructions, depending on the number of cars coming.

The photo of the bald eagle was sent by Mary Anne Weber of Houston Audubon, who found it in her photos of Deer Park Prairie after she got home from the Prairie Celebration on April 5.  After I forwarded it to Damien, he wrote back, “There are more bald eagle nests in and around Greater Houston than most folks can imagine. Our local population is proving metropolitan. The bird was likely out foraging for its eaglettes.

Lan