|80 Acres: Sun! Water! Grass! Crawdad! Bluebonnet!
||[Mar. 15th, 2009|10:57 pm]
The clouds shifted east and the sun came through about 4 pm, so I dropped what I was doing, grabbed the camera, put on shoes, and was out the door by 4:15. Left a note for Richard on his desk (he & Michael weren't back from the city.) It was gorgeous outside, still cool, but with a south (not north) breeze. The ground was soft enough to take footprints. I made one mistake (OK, two) in my eagerness to get out--I grabbed the cap I got at Weta in NZ last spring, and not my real sun hat, and I also didn't put on sunscreen. I love that cap, but two hours in central Texas sun is too much with just a cap.
The near meadow had water running across it a few days ago, in the rain, but not today of course, which made walking easier. The near meadow swale, below the #3 gabion, had clear water in it...and a crawdad had burrowed back up, raising a mound (not a proper chimney, but the sort of desperate eruption of mud a crawdad who'd nearly died of drought *would* raise as it clawed upward.) I got a picture that just shows the claws (if you blow it up.) There was water behind the #3 gabion, with water still trickling in from both the ditch and the natural drainage. I walked the natural drainage all the way to the highway--several little pools, all clear. The greenest things out there were invasive non-native weeds, of course--sow thistle and the like. And I hadn't brought either work gloves or a week stick, silly me.
I walked back west to the dry woods (no water in the dry woods swale) and partway into them on the Fox Pavilion trail, but decided I'd better get down to the creek woods rather than be lured into the hammock at Fox. So down to the creek woods I went, finding along the way prairie verbena and one of those ADYFs in bloom. (Texas has innumberable yellow Compositae, many of which look a lot alike...so they're often lumped as Another Dad-gum (or other D word) Yellow Flower.) Center Walk showed green, because we keep it mowed as a maintenance path. I just missed seeing a toad or frog (not sure which) that hopped into its hole--took a shot of the hole, but when enlarged there was no critter peeking out.
The creek woods haven't leafed out as much as they usually do by this time, but there are leaves, and most of the trees appear to have survived until this rescue rain. Not all (new dead hackberries and a cedar elm) and not all those leafing out retained all their limbs. One of the American elms on the creek bank lost a big one we'll need to drag a little distance. I was looking for any sign of flowing water--nothing in the overflow channel--water just soaked in, apparently; the layer of leaves looked undisturbed. In the main creek bed.water had pushed leaves around in only one place. The one remaining puddle was about a foot across, and it was clear the water had moved under the leaf layer to fill the hole there. That one will be gone by tomorrow.
Light was still on the solar panel at Owl, so the water was running there --lot of birds in both the creek woods and near Owl. Cardinals, blue jays, a phoebe high in a tree, sparrows of at least three species (by ear) and others I'm not sure of. That hammock was too much for me, and I relaxed in it for a little while until a glance at my watch brought me upright. I still needed to check the NW end, so I came through from the SW to the NW meadow on the rock bridge, as the west woods are one mass of mud after a rain like we've had. No sign of water flowing in the channel, though. I went north along the gully system (no pools, no puddles, no wildlife) then recrossed the creek at the north end--wet rocks, no water. Took the quickest (but relatively safe) way across the fields to the house lots, spotting the first bluebonnet of the year (a week ago, they didn't even have buds--this plant was three times the size it had been!) , and then, re-crossing the secondary drainage ditch, a nice ichneumon wasp landed on elbow-bush right in front of me.. I heard the raw squeal of the stall gates and sure enough Richard was home and had already fed the horses when I got that far.
So it was a grand walk-around, and things that looked dead may not be--some definitely aren't. If we'd get rain later this next week--or even the next--that would be wonderful. Oh--lots of tracks, too. Deer, raccoon, dog or coyote, and something that looked bobcat-like to me but may prove to be a dog very good at holding its claws up out of the mud. Definitely not house cat--way too big for that.
But I will wear the big hat next time. And sunscreen. And the work gloves. And carry the weeding stick. And binoculars, for all the little birds in the woods I can't see bare-eyed or even through the carmera. And all the other things I usually carry. And I'll take the ibuprofen before I go, so I won't be complaining for the next several hours (before I gave up and took it) about the stiffness.