Outdoors

  • Native Plants,  Outdoors

    Milkweeds at Gus Engeling WMA

    I’ve written two posts about Gus Engeling WMA, Rhexia + Green Lynx Spider and Amorpha paniculata in the wild! but I’ve never finished sharing or writing up about our first trip to the WMA. And then we’ve gone two more times last summer, which means I have a lot to share. This WMA is in my top 5 natural areas in the state and is named after Gus Engeling, a game warden who was shot and killed by a poacher at the age of 41 in 1951. Prior to its name change it was called Derden WMA. The habitat at this WMA is astonishing and diverse, with deep sandhills and…

  • Native Plants,  Outdoors,  Texas,  Travel & Places,  Wildflowers

    September Wildflower Walk at Watson Rare Native Plant Preserve

    In September we drove over to the Watson Rare Native Plant Preserve to help with the scheduled wildflower walk. The preserve typically holds monthly guided wildflower walks for visitors, with a break in July and sometimes August as well as some of the quieter times such as December-February at the preserve. I had primarily been volunteering on work days and wanted to come out for a bit of a lighter load than a work day—really I just wanted to take some photos and enjoy the blooms instead of doing the never ending task of trimming back ti-ti! It coincided with Chris’ birthday and I didn’t have to twist his arm…

  • Outdoors,  Texas,  Travel & Places

    Limpkin Invasion!

    It was Saturday late afternoon in September before dinnertime, and Chris decided he needed to run to Dollar General to get a Monster energy drink to cure his lingering headache. Off he went and minutes later I get a phone call from him telling me about a Bird Alert. A Bird Alert is usually when we see a rare or uncommon bird in the area, something to get worked up about! We’re not birders per se, though my Chris is much more in tune with birds than I am. I gravitate towards the more gregarious species and generally ignore the little brown jobbers. Yes, I know this makes me a…

  • Cemetery Botanizing,  Outdoors,  Wildflowers

    Cemetery Botanizing – Roberts Cemetery | 4

    I have spent the last week catching up on editing a pile–a PILE–of photos from the last year and even some from our New Mexico trip in June 2022! That doesn’t even count the many photos I had edited months ago that are uploaded to Flickr that I never wrote about. This spring will be the Catch Up Spring. At one point in my blogging days (and for most of us) I would write almost daily but now no one has the time to to sit and read (they are scrolling instead) and so even batching posts and scheduling ahead of time for every day of the week seems excessive.…

  • Gardening,  Memes,  Outdoors,  Wildlife Wednesday

    American Lady Caterpillars (Vanessa virginiensis) | Wildlife Wednesday

    Last spring we were fairy negligent about weeding our paths. Up popped all sorts of interesting but less desired native and non-native plants, including what I think was Pennsylvania cudweed, Gamochaeta pensylvanica. I knew they hosted American lady caterpillars but I had never seen any on the plants around our yard before so I left them to see what would happen. We had adults flitting about the Texas ragwort that grows in the front yard during March-late April and I knew there was a good chance we would see the caterpillars if I gave them time. And they arrived! The caterpillars make little leaf nests like other species such as…

  • Hiking,  Outdoors,  Texas,  Travel & Places

    Thanksgiving at Lake Brownwood State Park

    The lake was very low, still feeling the effects of the drought. Don’t cut hearts into the prickly pears, y’all. We made Thanksgiving camping reservations a little later this year and paired with only having the four days off instead of taking the entire week, we needed to go somewhere mid-range, not making the trek to South Llano River SP or the Davis Mountains as per what we’ve done frequently in the last several years. Plus, we’d already hit the Davis Mtns back during Spring Break in 2023, though I could easily go there twice a year or more if time was available. Lake Brownwood is “out there” in that…

  • Memes,  Outdoors,  Texas,  Travel & Places,  Wildflower Wednesday,  Wildflowers

    Large-flowered False Foxglove, Aureolaria grandiflora | Wildflower Wednesday

    Bumblebee on large-flowered false foxglove BONAP range iNat Observations Aureolaria grandiflora and it’s Aureolaria cousins have been on my to-see list for quite a while now. Imagine my surprise when Chris found them growing at Watson Rare Native Plant Preserve last July. I wasn’t expecting them to be there but I should have checked iNaturalist and paid more attention. The bumblebee video is from July at Watson. The other photos are from stumbling across the plant alongside the road in the Turkey Creek Unit of the Big Thicket last September. We’d just come off the Turkey Creek Trail and were walking back to the truck when Chris saw them growing…

  • Hiking,  Outdoors

    A Pre-Freeze Hike on the Lone Star Trail

    This bright red-orange sapling tree was stunning but I’m not totally sure what it is. First thoughts were black gum, Nyssa sylvatica, but closer looks at the leaves suggest maybe a Prunus or Pyrus. ID is welcome! Machine clearing in lieu of fire along one section of the trail. You know the terrain is getting good when you find the dwarf palmettos and the river cane! Lots of Sparse-lobed Grapefern, Sceptridium biternatum, along the trail right now. The floodplain section begins… Caney Creek A new find for us in Sam Houston and the westernmost plant on iNaturalist, Georgia holly, Ilex longipes. Hiker crew! Keely crossing a small creek. Ahhhh, the…

  • Memes,  Outdoors,  Texas,  Travel & Places,  Wildflower Wednesday,  Wildflowers

    Meeting Nabalus barbatus, barbed rattlesnake root | Wildflower Wednesday

    We went camping at Martin Dies Jr State Park in October, and while I had some usual suspects to check out on the trails there, I had a plant in mind I wanted to attempt to scout out in Jasper County—between Jasper and Kirbyville. Nabalus barbatus, aka barbed rattlesnake root, came on my radar a few years ago. It is relatively scattered and uncommon in east Texas as you can see in the map from iNaturalist above. Being uncommon and also trying to make sure I’m in the area at the right time for a bloom, well, it hadn’t worked out for a while to visit. I asked Chris to…

  • Hiking,  Outdoors,  Texas,  Travel & Places

    Exploring the Big Woods Nature Trail

    In December, after the three of us went to a volunteer workday at Watson, we stopped by the Big Woods Trail in Woodville at Heritage Village. I only found out this trail existed back in October when I did a different volunteer event at the Village with a couple of other Watson folks but at the time I didn’t have time to explore the trails. This time I had an agenda (hopefully more on that soon!) and I was also just curious about the trails, too. Here’s what we saw: There are less than a mile of trails but all of the little side trails make it feel as if…