A Story about Phlox

by Sue Ann Kendall

This is a post I wrote to my ranch blog, but since all the flowers are where we have our Chapter Meetings, I thought I’d share it with my Master Naturalist friends, too.

Ah, Phlox drummondii. Here’s a Texas native I have lifelong memories about.

When I was young, in the good old 1960s, these grew in great abundance in north central Florida, along the roadsides. There would be miles and miles of phlox blurring into a riot of pinks and purples.

Lucky for me, my mother loved to look at these wildflowers as much as I did. She’d ask my dad to please take us for a ride so she could get herself some phlox.

She’d take pitchers full of water in the car, and when she spotted the ideal field of phlox, she’d shout out for Dad to stop NOW!

We’d all pile out and brave the bees and ants (at least this was pre-fire ant) to pick huge bunches of these flowers. We had to be careful not to pull up the roots.

Back in the car, I’d marvel at all the colors and patterns in the blossoms. So much variety! I don’t think they lasted long in Mom’s vases, but they made her happy.

While the area where I live doesn’t have phlox, I’m happy that you only have to drive a few miles east to see some. It’s not like the old days in Florida, but they are pretty.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these flowers from the field next to Milano Methodist Church. They sure sent me down memory lane.

What’s a wildflower that brings YOU memories? Send Sue Ann your stories, in email, on Facebook, or on a piece of paper.

Annoyed by Trash

by Sue Ann Kendall

I’ve been thinking a lot about trash bags and how they endanger our domesticated and wild animal friends. So, you can imagine how perturbed I was when I got behind this garbage truck outside of Temple last week.

See the huge open bag? It was releasing its contents along the road. Above the caution sign at right is a genuine bit of trash that flew out.

The darned thing was blithely spewing trash, and plastic bags in particular, all along the highway. I couldn’t quite make out the license plate, though I was tempted to call this guy in for polluting the road.

I know this truck isn’t alone. The particular stretch of road we were on must be a trash route, because there was a LOT of debris on the roadside. What made us most sad was the plain evidence that people had quite recently walked the road and picked up trash, since there were black trash bags evenly spaced among the fresh new mess.

We really have a lot of education and enforcement work to do, don’t we?

We Had a Little Spring. Now Chilly.

Sharing this post, since it’s all about the spring blossoms and our crazy weather! Remember to send me your ideas and nature sightings, fellow Master Naturalists–Sue Ann

The Hermits' Rest

My friends the blue-eyed grass have returned.

Well, shoot, just when I was really getting into long walks and frolicking amid the wildflowers, a late cold front has driven me indoors. Yesterday, we hosted an event at 11 am at our office. The front showed up right as all the attendees were coming in or trying to find us. A big wind and brief rain surprised everyone, and blew away my meeting signs. March decided not to go out like a lamb after all!

We have a patch of pink evening primrose that is nearly white. It’s striking against the green grass.

But, I did get a lot of flower-viewing, pet walking, and iNaturalist uploading done before the front! It’s a great year for flowers, thanks to the winter rains, so I know I’ll be out finding more to share soon.

Yellow Flowers

The wild and crazy collard green in…

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Intense Hawk Action

I thought I’d share some action thoughts of the hawks who are nesting near my office in Austin.

The Hermits' Rest

Swooping! You can easily see tail stripes.

I got a request for an update on the hawks at my workplace. You know I just love requests. Since the people in our office spend a LOT of of our break time looking at them, there’s no problem with coming up with a report! The raptor couple are the talk of the water cooler, which pleases me a lot. We have a lot of budding birders being developed!

Thinking about sitting on that ledge.

Here are some of the behaviors we’ve observed:

  • Eating small animals. They like to do that at the parking garage.
  • Working on the nest. Every so often, a special new stick comes over.
  • Dealing with windows. There’s a report that one of them went BOOM into a window earlier this week. Both birds seem okay, now.
  • Dealing with ledges. While I’ve seen one of them successfully land on…

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Dung Beetles of Doom

Last fall, there was a dung beetle invasion at a ranch in Milam County. It’s today’s featured re-blog (we’re waiting for more contributions from our fellow Master Naturalists).

The Hermits' Rest

bug3 This friendly looking guy is the gazelle scarab beetle. They like to eat poop and attack tack rooms.

It seems like every year we get a different plague. This year’s infestation was quite a surprise. And how it managed to infest our tack room was quite ingenious.

You see, the room where we store all the equine food, saddles, and other equipment may not look great, but it is very well sealed, so that mice and other intruders can’t come in and eat our delicious beet pulp and expensive supplements. It’s also air conditioned, so that the leather tack doesn’t get all moldy and icky.

floor I recently dropped some black sunflower seeds, and from a distance, they do resemble dung beetles.

So, yes, we were surprised this weekend when what we originally thought were black sunflower seeds that we’d spilled were actually a LOT of dead bugs. I uploaded a…

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