Saturday, March 31, 2012

Gulf Coast Marsh Snake in Port O'Connor

 Rarely encountered and declining.  Four cats had this cool animal cornered below the Hockey's house this evening, too afraid to move closer within 24 inches of it.  It was a about 24-26" long.  I had first thought it was a Crayfish Snake until I checked Tennant....A very good find for me this evening...Here are a few photos in the event I need to be corrected on ID.  The range is restricted to the immediate coast  from about Portland to the Louisiana border (Tennant)....It likes to live in crab burrows, shoreline rubbish etc. etc.  And it has been a very long time since I have encountered one.  And a Crayfish Snake even scarcer....This darker individual had me wondering until I saw the ventral color pattern.

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Gmail - hummingbird on nest in POC -

Gmail - hummingbird on nest in POC -

Toothache Tree -The Stripper

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Red-shouldered Hawk preys upon Texas Coral Snake

  I have often wondered, but never had anything for sure and still don't for photo documentation on the following.  However late this evening I saw an adult Red-shouldered Hawk with a small, non-limp Texas Coral Snake, Micurus fluvinus perched in one of the many dead oaks on the property.  The bird with prey, flew before I could get a photo, which would have been a bad photo anyway given the light conditions and distance.   This is truly a lifer for me as I have forever wondered what a Coral Snakes predator could possibly be knowing how venomous even a small snake is..  The hawks are nesting very nearby so I see them often, usually with prey items I can not identify, so I assume they already have chicks though that would be much earlier than they typically do, or perhaps this is just part of the courtship.

  Saw my first Whip-poor-will of the year today during a walk through my woods.  I flushed it from a cedar limb...Wish I had known it was there before I flushed it.  At 8:20P on the dot I heard one close and a second distant Whip for about 20 seconds before they closed down.  Unfortunately at the same time the area pairs of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks came circling around making a clear hear difficult.

  A Hooded Warbler male was also in the yard today which I got to see, but unfortunately I had to spend most of the day inside on the PC.   Per my critter cams the Juncos, Spotted Towhee and  Gray Fox are still visiting.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bluebonnets, But which one?

    It has been a long time since I have seen this in my area.  Last year and much of the last decade this sandy field was almost barren. This was once a watermelon/sweet potato field up to the 70's, and it is just down the road from me, its sandy soil does not hold water very long. Note the dead trees in the background.   The December rains made for a huge difference.  The blue flowers are Bluebonnets (a native Lupine), however these are just one of the 6 similar species recognized as the state flower.  This the Sandy Land Bluebonnet is a  species found east of the escarpment on sandy soils  These were photographed near Utley, in Bastrop County
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spear Grass Time!!

 Before TV, before radio and when children still played in field and pasture there was that early summer grass that gave youngsters so much entertainment and sheep farmers so much grief.....Spear Grass Nasselia leucotricha, or also called "winter grass".   There are far to many memories of this grass for me to publish here,  and sadly many of the younger readers now will likely never fully grasp the hours kids in the past could spent with this species as a primary "toy" in season. But did we ever have so much fun during recess at school when we found these in patches along the property edges. We threw them like the little spears they were at each other, even at the girls, often returning to class when the bell rang, recess over, with the "spears" still hanging from our clothing.
   A native species, it's highly specialized seed gave non-native animal species at times serious problems in the past, but less so these days as everything is mowed or treated.  I once spent 100.00+ dollars at a vet having one "spear" surgically removed from the eye of a dog I owned. And oh my, how so hard they were to pick out of our socks.  For those that remember those fun days....This is a photo of the special patch that I save for the memory of those days on the property.  The patch did poorly the last 4 years due to the drought, but has bounced back incredibly this year.   Here, the seed heads are ripening, just a couple of weeks from maturing, then the entire stand will dry, brown and go dormant in mid June not to sprout again until late December.  Seed available on request :-)
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Monday, March 12, 2012

Bastrop State Park Is Growing Back

  ....Just over six months after the devastating fires literally destroyed the Bastrop State Parks forest, life is returning and flourishing in areas.  Seeds, spores, bulbs and the roots that managed to escape the intense fires are proving just how tough they can be!...I even found a tiny pine sprout about 2" tall.  Animals too, are returning, Armadillo tracks were all over the place and today I saw my first amphibian since the fire, a Leopard Frog on the forest floor.

  What is very interesting is that I found only one non-native plant that I recognized, that being a handful of Sow Thistles.   Poke Salat is every where, Were this not a state park one could gather as much as one could eat.
A southern delicacy, the last photo shows a couple of plants.  And anybody that knows Poke, knows how they love ash and are often found in the remnants of old burn piles and disturbed soils.

 There are still a few places that are mostly growing stones, but they will come along

  Here are a series of photos, Bastrop State Park is coming back from the ashes.  These were taken in one of the most intensely burned areas  in a closed section of the park

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Friday, March 2, 2012

Ice Chest Tomatoes

Here I show you 5 varieties of tomatoes (plus one chest of late cabbage) grown strictly in salvaged ice chests from mostly the coast. This is the larger of the two "gardens" I have 27 ice chests in all growing peppers, tomatoes, squash and even one with bird house gourds....This year I have bird house gourds planted everywhere the soil is good and I can get a hose to. Also just today I put in Okra in select spots....A good hot weather plant I love to eat raw when about 2.5-3" long..
Last fall I just threw out some 2 year old turnip seed from the freezer for the birds...It went ballistic even on unprepared soil so have been enjoying greens, but it is now time to harvest the roots before they get to tough. Great in beef soups and stews.

Click on the photo to enlarge on the 'maters. The plants in these recycled ice chest include, Super Beef Master, Black Krim, Celebrity, Big Zac  and Patio tomatoes...The 3 pepper s are TAMU mild jalapenos, except one Serrano grown from seed (all of these plants were grown from seed except the Russian Cabbage which will be coming out next week to make room for cukes.).

Will send another photo in a month or two of this "garden"..My other "garden" of about 10 ice chests for now contains only small seedlings or as yet unsprouted veggies. I also have red potatoes that I just "planted" in a huge compost heap. The green above surface stuff is growing like crazy...2+ feet high....But I don't know what is going on under ground yet.  I add coffee grinds to the mix every day as shown to the tomatoes and use fish emulsion every other week....B
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