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BPTMN: Blackland Prairie Texas Master Naturalists's Journal

September 22, 2021

BioBlitz Observations from the incomparable Sally Evans!

September 9, 2021 Bioblitz at Brockdale Park

​The morning was perfect – the temperature was just below seventy and the skies were clear. I arrived at the park expecting to see many vehicles as folks came out to count the birds and bees and Texas trees but there was only one other car. That belonged to our hostess and caretaker of this beautiful little park. It was Lorelei with her leather shin guards and long sleeved shirt and her long hair tied up under a floppy hat. But her welcoming grin was all I needed. We exchanged some good morning words and she admonished me to take care around the ‘hordes of ‘bioblitzing folks’. I began my walk at the point that gave me a view of Lake Lavon with the sun coming up just above it and a reflection on the pond in front of me. The snow on the prairie plants were massed to my left with some tall gaura flowers sticking up amongst them. Some of the fox tail seed heads with the sun behind them gave me the impression of looking at x-ray pictures of a spine with the ribs sticking out in miniature. And everything was quiet.
​I had my camera and my iphone with me. The phone has become a necessity to stay connected to my family in case of a problem. That is the way with us older folks now. But the phone was also to record on iNaturalist the organisms I would find this day. But why should I take a photo of the Snow-on-the Prairie as all of those folks and I know what it is. I just stood and enjoyed the view. The gaura standing above it was entertaining some honey bees as they collected the nectar. As I moved closer for a better look two or three grasshoppers jumped from one leaf to another as I had startled them but they weren’t ready for the day yet. It needed to be warmer for them. Their coloring was such that I could hardly see them on the leaves of the plants. Again, not worth an iNaturalist photo in my mind. These small creatures did not make enough sound to break the silence of the early morning. I did glimpse a small female hummingbird checking some turk’s cap blossoms in the small garden along the walk.
​Slowly I walked along the concrete walk along the northern side of the pond. The water was still. No dragonflies or damselflies were flitting about in the air. I couldn’t see any little fish in the water and the turtles were not poking their heads out to see who was in their domain. There was a lot of algae along the pond’s edges but there were no snails or insects moving about. All was still.

​Lorelei came to tell me she had to leave for a bit and would I welcome anyone else who came. There was one other vehicle in the lot by this time but that person had put on her floppy hat and taken her camera and headed for the trails snapping photos as she went. As Lorelei and I talked we frightened a green heron out of the cattails along that part of the pond. It flew low across the pond and disappeared in the grasses on the other side. Again there was not a sound.

​Actually I am not being truthful about the noises. Way off beyond our vision was a roadway and the early morning traffic was a low roar but I had tuned it out as an unnatural sound. A dog barked way off in the distance. There were some crows far away that complained about something occasionally but that too soon passed as a part of this little spot on the earth. Two black vultures flew by and joined three others up on the roof top of the high point pavilion. Two more were sitting on the osprey nest platform but they weren’t talking about much either on this quiet morning. I think they were waiting for the heat and the thermals of air to help them in their gliding surveillance of the land.
​Finally I saw a turtle’s head watching me from the middle of the pond and soon another came to the surface and again checked me out to know if I were a predator or prey. Circles began on the pond as something came to the surface to feed. I suspect they were the evidence of small fish catching the insects that landed on the water. One fish finally jumped out of the water. And a single dragonfly flitted by and out over the pond. Perhaps I had just come between the night time life and the day time life. Whatever the reason I was aware that my beautiful morning was marred by the lack of birds singing or insect sounds like the cicadas or crickets. Perhaps this is the way a September morning is supposed to be.
​I took two photos of plants that were so healthy and lovely and put them into the iNaturalist listing but they were common plants – nothing to exclaim about except their wonderful adaptation to heat and lack of water. I had walked up to the pavilion and listened to the vultures walk about on the roof but they disliked my intrusion and flew off. Way out on the far side of the lake three white egrets were wading in the shallows looking for tidbits. And still no sounds.

​It was time for me to return home and the chores of the day. As I walked back to the parking area a Carolina Wren flew up from a pile of sticks and scolded me for intruding on her day. But she took time in between scoldings to preen her feathers and scratch her head. And a blue jay flew over complaining that I had interrupted their neighborhood. Some spittle bugs were tucked in the notches of leaves on a low plant. And as I bid farewell to Lorelei, who had returned by then, two great blue herons quietly flew past the trees and around to another roosting spot or pond.
​I didn’t ‘bioblitz’ the way it should be done. I didn’t add to the data of the flora and fauna of Texas or this area. BUT I did allow my mind a rest from the everyday ‘blitzes’ and had a bit of mind blitz as I pondered over the extreme quiet and lack of wildlife. I was able to be outside and observe and listen and think about just what I was seeing - what was here right now. It was perfect and so quiet!
Sally Evans – Master Naturalist – September , 2021

Posted on September 22, 2021 20:43 by lisa281 lisa281 | 4 comments | Leave a comment

August 27, 2021

September 5 - 11! Cancel all of your plans and obligations. It's time to bioblitz!

Sam Kieschnick has done it again! He’s challenged all the TMN chapters in the DFW are to a “friendly” competition! On September 5 – 11, 2021, we will conduct another “fall socially distant bioblitz” in the Dallas/Fort Worth area on iNaturalist. Each chapter will count iNat observations in the counties that they serve (so the BPTMN counties will be Collin and Hunt counties). Which master naturalist chapter will have the most observations, most species, and most participation this year?!?
Much like last year, we will have daily challenges (with super hard ‘sub challenges’)! Big time props to whomever can check off all of these!

Ideally, we want you to get iNat observations in a public place (like your local park), but observations anywhere will count during this week. Remember, for our chapter, only observations in the two counties that we serve count towards the totals. If you jump over to Dallas and make observations, you’re helping our friends in the North Texas chapter! Time spent making iNat observations and time spent curating (uploading your own observations or identifying other observations) will count as Volunteer Hours.

For even MORE FUN, join some of your fellow BPTMN members for one or more of our group iNaturalist outings!

Attend as many outings as you want: you decide how much fun you can handle in one week! Wear appropriate footwear, bring plenty of water and a camera and/or smart phone, and any other naturalist tools of your choice.
Bring your friends and neighbors – these outings are not for TMN’s only! It’s a great chance to introduce someone new to iNaturalist!
Schedule of BPTMN iNaturalist Outings for the Fall Bioblitz

(Follow Sign-up Genius Link at the bottom of this post for details about where to park, maps, aetc.)

Sunday, September 5, 2021
(On your own)

Monday, September 6, 2021
Time: 8:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Place: Northwest Community Park, Frisco

Tuesday, September 7, 2021
Time: 8:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Place: Spring Creek Trail, Richardson
Park and meet in the parking lot at the "Woodcreek Plaza" office building, located on Renner just to the west of Routh Creek Parkway. Park on the outer edges of the lot, close to Renner. We'll walk to the nature trail from there.

Wednesday Evening, September 8, 2021
Time: 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Place: Oak Point Park, Plano

Thursday, September 9, 2021
Time: 8:30 – 11:30 AM
Blackland Prairie Raptor Center/Brockdale Park

Friday, September 10, 2021
Time: 8:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Place: Rowlett Creek Trail (park on Rollins Dr., just west of Alma)

And our GRAND FINALE
Saturday, September 11, 2021
Time: 8:30 – 11:30
Place: Paul Mathews Prairie map
We’ll be joined by: Brandon Belcher and Dr. Carly Aulicky
The Paul Mathews Prairie is special.
Owned by the Native Prairies Association of Texas, Mathews Prairie is a rare pristine prairie, providing a glimpse of the Blackland Prairie that once covered over 16 millions of acres of Texas. Located near Floyd, TX in Hunt County, it is 100 acres of extremely valuable remnant prairie that has never been plowed. It is densely grassed, heavily forbed, and riddled with deep gilgai impressions!
Brandon Belcher and Dr. Carly Aulicky are excited to have us conduct a bioblitz at Mathews Prairie, and they are both going to be there. Don’t miss this rare treat!
Sign up Genius Button
Sign Up!

Posted on August 27, 2021 18:56 by lisa281 lisa281 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 29, 2021

City Nature Challenge 2021

City Nature Challenge 2021
Be sure to get out this week-end and do some iNatting! Go alone, take the whole family, gather a few friends, or join one (or more!) of our chapter outings. Sign up for as many outings as you want: you decide how much fun you can handle! We'll be outside and expect to be socially distant, but bring a mask, just in case. (Who knows - we may all need to crowd around an exciting find!)

These outings are NOT for Texas Master Naturalists only!

Invite your friends, family, and neighbors to join us!


Go to Sign-up Genius for details about where to park, etc. !(Signing up is not required, but if you sign up, you'll be notified of any last minute changes, etc.) Here's the link to sign up for the outings:
Sign Up!

Arbor Hills Nature Preserve

Friday morning, April 30, 2021

9:30am - 12:00pm
6701 W Parker Rd
Plano, TX 75093

Frisco Commons Park

Saturday morning, May 1, 2021

9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
8000 McKinney Rd
Frisco, TX 75034

Oak Point Nature Preserve

Sunday morning, May 2, 2021

8:30 AM - 11:30 AM
5901 Los Rios Blvd
Plano, TX 75074

Mothing at Beaver Run Park

Sunday evening, May 2, 2021

9:00 PM - 10:30 PM
110 Elisabeth Way
Fairview, TX 75069

Stewart Creek Wetlands

Monday morning, May 3, 2021

9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Teel Parkway (south of Lebanon Drive where it dead ends)
Frisco, TX 75034

Posted on April 29, 2021 16:36 by lisa281 lisa281 | 2 comments | Leave a comment

September 20, 2020

BioBlitz Wrap-up

The first DFW Fall Socially Distant BioBlitz was a huge success! During these seven days, over 1100 people participated in the greater DFW 11-county area. Many of these people were Master Naturalists, but many more were not. Between all of us, we made over 35,000 observations, of over 2700 species. What a great way to kick the end-of-summer doldrums!

The competition between Master Naturalist chapters was friendly, but enthusiastic. Elm Fork’s service area had the most observations, with over 10,000, but Cross Timbers Chapter and our own Blackland Prairie Chapter were not far behind, with over 8000 observations each. (Note that Elm Fork had THREE counties, while we only had two. Just saying….) Overall, the Blackland Prairie Chapter made a terrific contribution. We had 45 members contribute over 7000 observations during that seven-day period. We observed 931 different species! To put that in proper perspective, over the comparable week in 2019, our members made only 379 observations. According to my calculations, we made around 19 times as many observations this year as last!!

We held ten small group outings during the BioBlitz, and all the participants enjoyed getting a chance to explore with fellow Master Naturalists. Twenty-five members attended at least one outing, with some hardy souls attending five, six, or seven! We kicked off the week with an outing to Hunt County, an area that has had very little iNaturalist activity. Manju Ruikar (Class of 2020) kindly invited the group out to explore her family’s Hunt county property. There were 384 observations made in Hunt county during the BioBlitz, so we still have lots of room for improvement out there. Still, compared to the 15 observations made last year during this time period, we’ve come a long way! We made other outings to places new and old, from the Heard Sanctuary and Erwin Park, to Parkhill Prairie and Breckenridge Park. On Friday, we had perfect weather for exploring the Woodfin property. (Thanks, Bill and Fran, for having us!) We saw more butterflies at the beautiful Stiff Chapel Cemetery than we’d seen all week!
In addition to the outings, many people worked hard collecting observations on their own. We had several people new to iNaturalist jump in with both feet! A big welcome to iNaturalist for Rochelle! (@delozier4) She just joined iNaturalist in August and made over 500 observations during the BioBlitz - wow! Matt (@outdoormatt) wasn’t too far behind her, and Brent, (@backfire) while not entirely new to iNaturalist, caught the bug this year and did some serious ‘Blitzing, too!

Identifying observations made by others is another area in which our chapter really contributed. We had more people than ever before making identifications during the BioBlitz. Twelve members each provided identifications for over 100 observations made by others, and several chapter members each made thousands of BioBlitz ID’s. This is such an important part of the outreach component of iNaturalist, so a big thanks to people who worked on identifications!

Kudos to Sam Kieschnick @sambiology for organizing this project and inspiring so many of us! Check out the whole project and results on iNaturalist: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/fall-socially-distant-bioblitz-dfw-urban-ecosystem Sam will be presenting a webinar reviewing the results and relevancy of the 2020 BioBlitz, on Friday, September 25, at 7:00 PM. Pre-registration required: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_ssLSn7T6Qe6r_HfTAjyCtg

Posted on September 20, 2020 22:08 by lisa281 lisa281 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 01, 2020

Schedule of iNaturalist Outings for the Fall Bioblitz

Sign up for as many as you want: you decide how much fun you can handle in one week! Everyone will need to wear a mask, and we will distance ourselves socially by forming small groups of no more than five people. Each group will have a leader who knows iNaturalist and can help those new to the tool. These outings are NOT for Texas Master Naturalists only! Invite your friends, family, and neighbors to join us!

BONUS: We'll have small door prizes ( or should I say "OUT-door prizes?") for blitzers at each outing!

Bring plenty of water, appropriate footwear, masks, a camera and/or smart phone, and any other naturalist tools of your choice.

Go to Sign-up Genius to sign up for as many outings as you want! Here's the link to sign up for the outings:
Sign Up!

Sunday, September 6, 2020
9:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Manju Ruikar's property (Hunt Co.)

Monday, September 7, 2020
8:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Frisco Commons Park  in Frisco

Monday, September 7, 2020
5:30 PM - 8:00 PM
Bonnie Wenk Park in McKinney

Tuesday, September 8, 2020
8:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Breckenridge Park in Richardson

Wednesday, September 9, 2020
8:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Heard Museum in McKinney

Wednesday, September 9, 2020
6:00 - ?
Miramonte Meadow in Frisco

Thursday, September 10, 2020
8:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Parkhill Prairie (Collin County)

Friday, September 11, 2020
8:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Erwin Park  in McKinney

Friday, September 11, 2020
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Chalk Hill Farm in McKinney

Friday, September 11, 2020
6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Pond behind Hilton Garden Inn in Richardson

Saturday, September 12, 2020
8:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Holifield Env. Learning Center in Plano
 

Posted on September 01, 2020 14:39 by lisa281 lisa281 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 29, 2020

Fall Bioblitz Part II: ID Blitz

VH Opportunity:

Part II of the Fall Bioblitz Challenge involves getting as many observations as possible to Research Grade, which means each observation much have at least two agreeing identifications. We are going to have two group identification sessions via Zoom, where we'll break out into small groups and work together to identify the observations made during Part I of the bioblitz. If you've never tried identifying observations made by others on iNaturalist, this is a great way to get started! 

Sunday, September 13
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
and
Tuesday, September 15
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Click below to sign up:

Sign Up!

Posted on August 29, 2020 16:22 by lisa281 lisa281 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Socially Distant iNaturalist Outings!

Don't forget! Fall DFW iNaturalist BioBlitz is coming soon! ( September 6-12 ) Be sure to be out there collecting observations in Collin and Hunt counties during that week!

For even more fun, join one or more of our group outings!

We'll have at one or more outings scheduled each day of the bioblitz. Sign up for as many as you want: you decide how much fun you can handle in one week! Everyone will need to wear a mask, and we will distance ourselves socially by forming small groups of no more than five people. Each group will have a leader who knows iNaturalist and can help those new to the tool. These outings are NOT for Texas Master Naturalists only! Invite your friends, family, and neighbors to join us!

BONUS: We'll have small door prizes (OUT-door prizes!) for blitzers at each outing!

Bring plenty of water, appropriate footwear, masks, a camera and/or smart phone, and any other naturalist tools of your choice.

Go to Sign-up Genius to sign up for as many outings as you want! Here's the link to sign up for the outings:
Sign Up!

Posted on August 29, 2020 15:56 by lisa281 lisa281 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Fall Bioblitz

VH OPPORTUNITY: Fall DFW iNaturalist BioBlitz: September 6-12

We have all missed out on participating in public BioBlitzes this year. Most of us have just been whining about it; but DFW Urban Biologist Sam Kieschnick has done something about it; he has created the Fall Socially Distant BioBlitz for DFW Master Naturalist Chapters!

Date:

September 6–12, 2020

Time:

You choose! Any time between 12:01 AM on September 6 and 11:59 PM on September 12: seven full days! Any observations are made in Collin and Hunt Counties during September 6-12 will automatically go into the BPTMN project iNaturalist site without any extra steps.

BPTMN Contact:

Lisa Travis – listrav@gmail.com
Posted on August 29, 2020 15:39 by lisa281 lisa281 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 26, 2020

City Nature Challenge 2020

Posted on April 26, 2020 18:43 by lisa281 lisa281 | 1 comment | Leave a comment

March 01, 2020

Get ready for the City Nature Challenge!

Posted on March 01, 2020 13:54 by lisa281 lisa281 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

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