September 01, 2018

Dunbar/ LPP I

I got out for a while this morning to start an informal inventory of what I've begun to think of as the unrestored "Lubbock Prairie Park." Neither the city or anyone else with any power has declared this area for a future prairie park, but since the internet is filled with crazies making bold claims, I'll make my own.

I'm pretending to be somewhat systematic in this venture, so I tried to (mostly) focus on one island created from the web of bike trails.

Like most other unmowed areas in Yellowhouse, there is a mix of good and bad. The prickly pear needs to be addressed and the Siberian elms need to go. This side of the area doesn't have nearly as much kochia as the southeast side.

If it were to be ever be restored, it would look amazing.

Posted on September 01, 2018 18:12 by rowdius rowdius | 60 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 30, 2018

Dunbar Uplands II

I've been sick the past few days, but had to get out of the house. So, I hacked and coughed my way around some more of the uplands just north of Canyon Lake 6.

2018-08-30 Dunbaruplands

This area is pretty typical of the other rocky feral areas of Yellowhouse canyon. The city's mowers can't mow them down, so lots of endemic prairie species for both the Llano Estacado and the Rolling Plains are able to exist. Sideoats grama, blue grama, hairy grama, and (I think) black grama all have a presence. I haven't seen any little bluestem yet, but it wouldn't surprise me. I was surprised by some sand sagebrush today. Just a tiny pocket of sandier soil up top in a spot.

Of course, there is bad with the good. The dominate tree is Siberian elm, and both kochia and russian thistle have a strong foothold.

I've secretly hoped to see a tiny horned lizard this week. There are enough harvester ants, and there are enough observations in other places across town that I suspect they are there, I've just not been lucky yet

I would like to see the City of Lubbock commit to restoring some native prairie. What little feral park land Lubbock has is steadily decreasing while things like disc golf courses increase. Amid all of the various sports complexes and courses, Lubbock does not maintain any native prairie that is open to the public.

Lubbock Lank Landmark is a jewel, but it isn't city owned or maintained. Lubbock should seek to emulate the success of the restoration at LLL somewhere else in the city. One suggestion might be the city owned land between Hell's gate and the loop. Take everything between those two points and north of the creek and it would be ~100 acres that is crying out for restoration.

Currently that land is open for public use and features bike trails. Restoring the landscape to native prairie would allow the bike trails to remain while adding better scenery, possible interpretive uses, and improve the ecosystem services that bit of land could provide. Once the restoration was complete, maintenance costs would be low.

There might be other areas in the city that would be suitable, this is just one example.

lubbock native praire park

I would also suggest the creation of a Natural Resources Manager/urban biologist position in the City of Lubbock who would be tasked with being the land steward for this new native prairie park as well as seeking innovative ways to increase biodiversity in all of the existing parks and promote nature.

Just daydreaming while being sick.

Posted on August 30, 2018 18:29 by rowdius rowdius | 35 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 27, 2018

Dunbar Lake Uplands

I had an hour to bum around this morning, and wasn't sure where to go, but noticed the uplands around Canyon Lake 6 isn't getting enough observation love.

I wish I could have spent more time there today.

Posted on August 27, 2018 20:33 by rowdius rowdius | 36 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 25, 2018

IPS Trip 2

Made it over to the northwest side of the Llano Estacado today.

There's some good country in there, but you have to drive through a lot of cotton and corn to get to it. Missed my chance at a good C. viridis photo, but couldn't be helped.

I found some photo locations I need to revisit at magic hour. It may lead to the book cover photo I need.

Posted on August 25, 2018 23:38 by rowdius rowdius | 22 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 23, 2018

Impromptu Trip

It's not that I do not love my job. I do. I get paid to write, to research, to learn, and more. But, some days while driving to work I get the urge to just see some country.

This was one of those days.

~130 miles. My first goal was to see some country off the Llano for a little while. After that, each turn was random.

Unfortunately, the North Fork of the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos turned me back at one point:

I was hoping for some horned lizards, but no such luck.

3 American kestrels (only two with photos though)
3 Swainson's hawks
dung beetles
2 loggerhead shrikes (only able to photograph one)
1 group of blue grosbeaks that wouldn't cooperate for good photos
cowbirds
1 DOR C. atrox
1 DOR bullsnake

It probably seems silly to go through the effort to add a map, but I'm trying to keep a better record of effort and how far afield I'm going, so it works for me.

Posted on August 23, 2018 19:17 by rowdius rowdius | 14 observations | 1 comment | Leave a comment

August 22, 2018

LLL prescribed burn- One month post burn

It's been a dry month; however, we did get 0.99 in spread out over three days last week. It doesn't make up for the hole we're in, but it is enough to start to see some response on the burn unit.

Late summer fires tend to promote forb growth, and suppress warm season grasses to a certain extent. This is because warm season grasses have just poured a tremendous amount of energy into reproduction (flower and seed growth) and removing the energy collection portions of the plant (the leaves) doesn't allow the plant to store much energy for winter, and thus, next spring's growth. We burned in late July, so while warm season grasses might take a slight hit, there should be a good balance between forbs and grass regeneration.

ONE MONTH PHOTO POINTS

Still doesn't look like much response from the photo points, but that spot is at the highest elevation, and some of the poorest soil. If you look closely, you can see some forbs.


Grass regrowth

Scarlet globemallow ( Sphaeralcea coccinea) responding

Mesquite

Fire is part of what kept mesquite density low on the Llano Estacado. Regular fire supresses and can kill mesquite; however, mesquite older than about three years, resprout mesquite, and mesquite that has had its bud zone buried is largely immune to normal fire.

Example:
Looks dead

Look closer:

It is already resprouting.

We set back quite a bit mesquite on this fire, but it had been seven years since the last fire in this pasture. So, some of it escaped death.

There are also some new mesquite sprouts showing up after the rain. This is too be expected; fire is not a one time use thing (no management tool is for that matter).

There were quite a few other forbs beginning to emerge. I couldn't identify all of them, but buffalo gourd, scarlet globe mallow, ragweed, , silverleaf nightshade and several others were coming up. If we get our fall rain, it should really take off before winter.

Speaking of taking off, I'm about to hit the busy part of my year, so I probably will not update the post fire monitoring until winter, and then perhaps once spring green-up begins.

Posted on August 22, 2018 21:55 by rowdius rowdius | 35 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 01, 2018

LLL prescribed burn- 1 week post burn

See my previous post for details about the actual burn.

In the week since the burn we had two 0.04 inch rain events. It wasn't really enough moisture to trigger regrowth, but little is better than none I guess.

Today's walk through the burn unit produced 8 different wildlife species including 2 American kestrals, 2 Swainson's hawks, 3 to 5 jackrabbits, 2 cottontails, 8 dove (both mourning and white winged), 3-5 western kingbirds.

1 WEEK PHOTO POINTS



It is interesting to see the trails from animals
traillllburn1wk

It is obvious that despite little moisture and regrowth, wildlife are continuing to use the area.

I think my next update for this burn unit will be at ~ 1 month.

I did see a hispid cotton rat outside of the burn unit. Their population has crashed here in the last year, so it is notable.

Posted on August 01, 2018 18:18 by rowdius rowdius | 9 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 27, 2018

LLL prescribed burn 25 July 2018

The Llano Estacado is a landscape shaped by fire. Grassland needs grazers and fire to remain grassland. We shot the bison, smothered the fire, and created our brush troubles. We'll save cattle for another post. If we want to restore the prairie, we MUST restore fire.

Prescribed burning has been used for a few decades now, and both the art and the science of it improves each year. We know prescribed fire restores prairie. We know prescribed fire prevents wildfire.

Lubbock Lake Landmark conducted a prescribed burn on 25 June 2018 for a prescribed burning training, and for prairie maintenance.

The burn unit was ~34 acres on the north end of the preserve.

That is certainly a small fire by rangeland standards, but it represents perhaps a 10th of the preserve. The land stewards at LLL have used prescribed fire for many years now, and this rotation of fire throughout the preserve is a perfect small scale example of how the Llano Estacado could look with proper stewardship.

On the day of the fire, both black-tailed jackrabbits and Texas horned lizards were observed in the black following the burn.

Before

Conditions:
Surface winds: ~4-9 SE
Transport winds ~7-9 SE- S
Mixing Height ~11,000 ft
1 HR fuel moisture 1: 6%
1 HR fuel moisture 2: 9.8%
RH: ~24-30%
Temp ~78- 86 F

Twenty-Four Hours Later

The associated observations were 24 hours after the burn, following a 0.04 inch shower.

There were a ton of western kingbirds ( Tyrannus verticalis) in the burn unit As well as rabbits, mockingbirds, killdeer, and a ton of harvester ants.

Photo points:



If I have time, I'm going to try to follow this up in the coming weeks.

*I am not associated with LLL in any form. While I was a participant in the prescribed burn training, I am just a naturalist out observing on my own time.

Posted on July 27, 2018 12:33 by rowdius rowdius | 13 observations | 2 comments | Leave a comment

July 12, 2018

Studies in office blues no. 7

I've been stuck in the office lately. I know there's plenty of things to look out just outside of my office, but I'm itching to get back on a couple of my projects. The llano estacado is a big place, and I need to get out in it ASAP if I am going to have enough material to finish up all of the things I want to do.

Back to the office though.

Every hour or so, I try to wander around a little bit to keep sane. These observations are just from that. The Toxostoma curvirostre are such great and curious birds. If I leave the exterior door and my office door open, I'll sometimes look up to see a thrasher peeking in on me.

Of course Quiscalus mexicanus are everywhere. I actually like them. I know that makes me weird.

Of the three rabbits/hares we have here, I probably have more photos of S. audobonii than any other. They're right out side the office (though so are L. californicus and I can't help but waste a few minutes watching them.

I think yesterday was the first time I've seen the Haemorphous mexicanus around. I'm sure I've just not been paying enough attention.

Anyway, my break is over; back on my head.

Posted on July 12, 2018 12:42 by rowdius rowdius | 4 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 03, 2018

IPS Trip 1

Took a quick trip to the western edge of the Llano Estacado for the IPS trip. I didn't get all of the species I needed, but it was a really nice trip. Saw a ton of Swainson's hawks, pronghorn, and more.

133 miles
53 observations
22 species

Posted on July 03, 2018 03:47 by rowdius rowdius | 53 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

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