An Evening at Kickerillo-Mischer Preserve
In late June we took an evening out in the middle of the week, dinner at a new to us Tex-Mex restaurant and then a walk/hike over at Kickerillo-Mischer Preserve. The park is down near The Vintage in the Willowbrook area of NW Houston off of SH 249—so it is rather urban/suburban but once you get into the park it doesn’t feel like it unless you pay attention to the background noise of the roads in the distance! The park itself was very busy with joggers, strollers (not the baby kind–well, probably a few of those, too!), and fisherfolks. If we lived closer than a 25 minute-ish drive I know we’d be around the park much more often.
Driving up and down 249 over the last few years I had noticed the park being built but it wasn’t until recently that I put some effort into figuring out more information about the park. In early summer I had the intention that we would get out and do some evening hikes in the middle of the week but here it is the middle of August and this was our only foray into the greater world beyond our house during the weekday evenings. It didn’t help that for about half of July Forest and I were recuperating from an upper respiratory infection. Summer whizzed on by and I don’t know what happened.
Alas, there were some great things seen in our couple of hours spent circumnavigating Marshall Lake. Let’s rewind to June for a lovely post-rain stroll!
Mustang Grape, Vitis mustangensis — I love the fuzziness of the leaves!
After getting out of the car we took off down a peninsula that juts out into the lake towards the west. We ended up having to make a loop out of it because there was no access to the main trails from there.
One of the duskywings—not sure which because I had to stalk it around a few trees before I was even able to capture this photo.
Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis
The buttonbush were in full bloom and an enticing stop for Forest to check out. A highly underrated shrub that really should be utilized more in the landscape.
An unnamed tributary creek that flows into Cypress Creek.
The ever delightful Clematis crispa, swamp leatherflower. This brightened up the walk a bit as we made our way around the lake.
Tropical Checkered-Skipper, Pyrgus oileus
While Forest and Chris were poking around looking at something else I meandered to a grassy clearing to look for wildflowers and spotted this tropical checkered-skipper…
and this pretty wedgling moth, Galgula partita.
As we rounded the corner on the east side we came across a stunning display of American Buckwheat Vine, Brunnichia ovata. I’ve always loved this vine but haven’t really been able to enjoy its full blooming glory before. The scene was perfect with a grey-ish sky and the darkness of the forest behind the vine to get some interesting shots. In my reading about the vine, it is/was apparently used for honey production in Arkansas but a producer was shutting down because the vine forage material was continuously being damaged from herbicide drift.
Eventually we came to Cypress Creek itself, a creek that flows quite a ways through northern Harris county before merging with the larger Spring Creek and not long after, the San Jacinto River.
This side of the park was heavily dominated by Passiflora incarnata vines, which were in full bloom and lovely as can be.
Another Clematis crispa, this time with some mood.
The suburban/creek interface.
My first gulf frittilary caterpillar of the summer! It’s only been in the last week that I’ve seen any caterpillars around my yard.
Look at that passionfruit forming!
I spotted some kind of weevil on one of the passifloras but I have yet to identify it.
Black Elderberry, Sambucus canadensis
Loads of Helianthus annuus, which enticed Forest to want to pick all the flowers!
American Basketflower, Plectocephalus americanus
Halloween Pennant, Celithemis eponina
Halloween pennants are one of more common dragonflies I saw in south Florida and while I know they are in Texas based on iNat observations, I just do not see them. So, when I saw this one I was ecstatic! They are one of my favorite dragonflies!
We arrived back at the car close to dusk, hoofing that last quarter mile or so before it got too dark to see. It was a great feeling to have done a mid-week excursion like that and as I said, I had ever intention to do more but it just never came to fruition.
It took me a while, but I finally snapped to the Kickerillo name — Vince K. is the big-time Houston developer, and I found his corporation or foundation or whatever helped with the preserve development.
It was fun to see three of my favorites: the clematis, the passionvine, and the basketflower. When I think of 249 I always mentally locate it somewhere around Tokyo, or at least Austin. It was interesting to see that they offer nature photography workshops. I just missed this weekend’s, but it might come around again.
The one I’d love to see is Willow Waterhole, but it’s probably 45 minutes from me, if not more. I’ll work on seeing everything around here first!
Love the pictures! Summer was over toooooooo fast!!!