June 2014 - Crosstimbers Connection


June 2014 - Crosstimbers Connection
Frog Calls
Newsletter of Crosstimbers Connection
Volume 2, No. 2
June, 2014
Springtime Exploration
Our Walks & Presentations at PrairieFest and Beyond
This spring we offered several nature walks and presenta-
We also offered several “herp walks” at the Fort Worth Na-
tions to the public. This was our first year to participate in
ture Center & Refuge, taking people out to see some of the
PrairieFest, an annual celebration of the prairie held at the
wonderful places at the 3,621 acre refuge. This year is the
Tandy Hills Natural Area. We had a booth within the “prairie
50th anniversary of the nature center, and we are proud to
circle” and talked with many visitors, showing them a couple
make any contribution that we can to it. We scheduled the
of reptilian natives of the north Texas prairies. Our Great
herp walks for the first Sunday of April, May, and June, and
Plains ratsnake and ornate box turtle got lots of attention
we plan to schedule more later. However, July and August
and drew many questions from kids and adults alike.
have been so hot and dry the past few years that we
Frog Calls
June, 2014
Springtime Exploration (continued)
thought indoor presentations might work better for the next
may have been one reason that we did not see any green
two months (see page 3)..
treefrogs, although we searched among the reeds for some
Then, on April 26, the hilly 160 acres of prairie at Tandy
Hills Natural Area bloomed with hundreds of people who
turned out for PrairieFest 2014. We led a couple of walks
through the hills, and on one of them we got to know
Shane, a young her-
Ironclad beetle
Then, in a walk through the bottomland woods, we came
across an ironclad beetle, which is an insect with a blotchy
pattern of black and cream color. These beetles feed on
fungi which they find on trees, and they are said to have
Shane (left) and the Texas brown tarantula (right)
one of the hardest exoskeletons (the hard layer of chitin on
the outside) of all the invertebrates.
petologically-minded guy who was delighted with the Texas
brown tarantula that we found under some downed branch-
A highlight of the walks in May and in June was a walk along
the Crosstimbers trail, with a channel running alongside it
es on a hillside.
where turtles pull out and sun themselves. While some of
The first walk this spring was on April 6, a cold and drizzly
day. Nevertheless, Mark and Michael met Sharon, a master
naturalist who was ready for whatever we might find. We
had a great walk, even if it did not feel much like spring!
Then, on May 4, we had 16 people for the herp walk at the
nature center. We walked out on the boardwalk, but the
drought had shrunk the water to shallow pools in the middle of the marsh, and the dry conditions among the reeds
River cooters
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Frog Calls
June, 2014
Springtime Exploration (continued)
the turtles were red-eared sliders (possibly
our most common turtle), many of the
ones we saw were river cooters. Females of
this species have shells that can exceed 12
inches in length, and among the identifying marks that separate them from redeared sliders is that cooters do not have
the red patch on the head behind the eye.
About 20 people joined us for a walk on
June 1, and nature center staff Laura, Troy,
and Allyson helped provide guidance and
information along the trail, for which Michael was very thankful! Among the highlights of that walk was a great blue heron
seen along the Crosstimbers trail. We’re
grateful for everyone who came along on
Great blue heron
these walks, and we look forward to seeing
you again!
Let’s Get Together
Some Upcoming Events
Where: Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge
When: on the first Saturdays of the month - July, August, September - 2:00-3:00pm
Meet us at the Hardwicke Interpretive Center
July 5:
- come and meet, in pictures and stories, the venomous snakes of our area. Learn to identify them and
discuss how to stay safe when you're outdoors. You'll hear stories of encounters with all our venomous species, including
rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, copperheads, and coral snakes.
August 2:
- come hear about our non-venomous snakes, and meet a couple of them firsthand. Some of these
animals have amazing abilities to climb, swim, and even put on a big bluff to try to scare enemies away. Learn about how to tell
them apart from venomous snakes.
September 6:
- Find out what's leaping and hopping in our ponds and wetlands. These amphibians have
fascinating life stories, including starting out as tadpoles and having distinctive voices that are not anything like the ribbits and
croaks of cartoon frogs. We'll have lots of pictures as well as audio recordings of the frog calls heard in our area.
(While Crosstimbers Connection does not charge a fee, there is an entrance fee to the nature center-see their website, www.fwnaturecenter.org)
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Frog Calls
June, 2014
Amphibians and the Food Web:
“… amphibians play a major role in many ecosystems, in some places the
amphibian biomass is greater than that of all the other vertebrates.”
-- Andrew Blaustein, professor of zoology at Oregon State University
Imagine the weight of all the amphibians in an area being larger than that of all
the birds, mammals, fish, and reptiles there. That’s a lot of frogs, toads, and
This means that amphibians are “heavy” players in the ecosystem,
serving as a major source of food for other wildlife.
Crosstimbers Connection - Connecting People with Nature in North Texas
We take people out into the woods and prairies, looking for reptiles, amphibians, and other wildlife, learning and
having fun. And we do it without charging anything (but we gladly accept tax-deductible contributions to keep us
going). We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization - please visit us on the web at: http://crosstimbersconnection.org.
Michael Smith, President
Debbie Dorman, Secretary
Rob Denkhaus, Board Member
Jo Smith, Treasurer
Nic Martinez, Board Member
P.O. Box 151882
Arlington, Texas 76015
Please visit Crosstimbers Connection on Facebook!
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