May 02

Copying Nature: Water Feature

Posted: under Activities, photography, Plantlife, Wildlife.
Tags: , , , ,  May 2nd, 2010

We’re already drying up, though much is still green and flowers are still blooming…the long-range forecast is for a “mild drought.”   Last summer, in the worst of the drought, we reworked the backyard water feature (which had become overgrown with water irises, among other things.)   We started it before we had the 80 acres, designing it for wildlife use from the beginning, with sunny, shady, quiet, and fast-moving sections of varying depths and shapes.   In the extreme drought that ended last fall, it was crucial to our wildlife, because neither of the small guzzlers out on the 80 acres was big enough to sustain a good population of amphibians or odonates.

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Apr 30

Crane Flies

Posted: under Activities, photography, Wildlife.
Tags: , , , ,  April 30th, 2010

Crane flies are odd insects with long legs relative to their body size–they’re mistaken sometimes for giant mosquitos, which they aren’t.   For such delicate looking creatures, they’re important in the ecosystem:  crane fly larvae feed mostly on fungi, decaying organic matters, sometimes on plant rootlets–some are predatory.   The adults are food for birds.  There are roughly 1600 species of these guys north of Mexico.

Here’s one of our craneflies I’ve seen just about every year:

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Jan 22

Annual Report: In

Posted: under Activities, Officialdom, Politics.
Tags: , , ,  January 22nd, 2010

Every year we have to file an annual report with our county tax appraisal district.    We have to use the TPWD form, which–being written for much larger properties mostly focused on game animals–doesn’t really fit us.   So every year, in addition to filling out the state’s 9 page form, I write “Please see attached supplemental pages” many times and then devise a supplement that goes through the same required activities from our perspective, with pictures.    In detail sufficient to prove that yes, we are doing everything we say we’re doing, and yes, what we’re doing does fit the requirements.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Jan 17

First 2010 Rain, New Species

Posted: under Activities, Land, Plantlife, Water, Wildlife.
Tags: , , , , , ,  January 17th, 2010

We’d had some sprinkles, but the first real rain came Thursday & Friday, about two inches, and set the secondary drainage flowing across the near meadow again.  Creek was up and a little turbid, but the flow in the grass was crystal clear.   Today, I finally photographed a common (supposedly) species of butterfly around here, which I’d never been able to catch in the lens.

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Dec 27

Midwinter Walk

Posted: under Activities, Plantlife, Wildlife.
Tags: , , , , ,  December 27th, 2009

We had clear dry weather today to get some work done, and no choir duties.   Our first chore was moving water iris taken from the lily pond (which had overgrown with them) out onto the land, to see if they’ll naturalize in some of the temporary pools.  We were successful with a few transplants a few years back.

floating-iris-pond063 Read the rest of this entry »

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Dec 10


Posted: under Activities, Water, Weather.
Tags: , ,  December 10th, 2009

Every day brings changes to the land–the seasonal changes being among the most obvious–but from year to year we see changes–both desired and undesired–as a result of what we, our neighbors, and the weather do.

eastern-gama-flowers368 Read the rest of this entry »

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Nov 25

New Blog Page: Activities

Posted: under Activities, Update.
Tags:  November 25th, 2009

There’s a new page at this blog that will explain the “activities” tag to readers not familiar with the Texas law on conversion of agricultural land to wildlife management.  I’ve outlined some of the things we do to satisfy the requirements of each of the seven listed activities.

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Nov 25

Managing Population

Posted: under Activities, Mortality, Wildlife.
Tags: ,  November 25th, 2009

Wildlife managers know that in natural systems (few of which still exist) there’s a reasonable balance between predators and prey, so that the prey don’t degrade the resource (plants and water) they need.  In nearly all managed lands in the US,  large predators have been eliminated or reduced to the point where predators cannot effectively control prey population.  Thus the grazers and browsers can grow in numbers to the point where they are on the edge of starvation.

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Nov 12

Spring in Fall

Posted: under Activities, photography, Water, Wildlife.
Tags: , , , , ,  November 12th, 2009

Two years of drought followed by heavy rains in a warm fall has produced bursts of spring flowering and some spring butterflies even as it’s produced sudden fall color…a very odd combination.


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Nov 07

First-of-Season Winter Sparrows

Posted: under Activities, Wildlife.
Tags: , , , , ,  November 7th, 2009

Forgot to mention yesterday that though I had heard a White-crowned Sparrow call in the yard a few days ago, I hadn’t spotted one until yesterday evening, up in the dry woods.  I came into the south end of the dry woods trail and startled some White-winged doves, who flapped off with their usual noisy behavior, but one smaller bird just hopped to the top of a cactus and sat there.

white-crowned_sparrow198 Read the rest of this entry »

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