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Prairie Facts

Report on Maddin Prairie Preserve, June 9, 10 & 18, 2017, by Kirsti Harms

Maddin Update June 9-10 and 18, 2017

Submitted by Kirsti Harms

June 9-10, 2017:
I had made plans to meet Joanne Haddock, from Citizens for Prairie Dogs, at Maddin so she could bring 10 more prairie dogs to our colony. She was unable to make it this weekend due to car trouble. She will try to come next weekend, and I plan to meet her there. But I decided to go this weekend anyway.

Another Maddin sunset. This time with almost no clouds.

Bewick’s wren nest. I think there are little ones in the shadows here.

It is now summer in West Texas.
Sundown is around 9 and the heat lingered in the mid 90s until 7 p.m. Luckily the breeze picked up around dusk. Birds are still singing and active. We’ve got a couple of Bewick’s wrens nesting in the empty meter box on the utility pole. Pat and her family crew had stopped by earlier Friday and had left notes of their observations in the journal. Sounds like they had some good wildlife sightings.

My plumbing skills at work. This continued at home when my kitchen sink drain was clogged.  But my brother’s plumbing skills helped with that.

Feeding the irrigation pipe with a hose. Mostly worked, except for some backflow.

I managed to fix the outdoor faucet, so we’ve got a water source again. Getting the water storage tank back in use will be a more complex project. I just stuck a hose in the irrigation pipe and that was good enough to refill our wildlife water troughs down the hill. It was also VERY nice to have some cold well water available for a rinse on a hot day! I’m considering bringing a portable kiddie pool out there next time… a margarita and a soak would be lovely.

Did some work at the prairie dog town.
Found a couple of burrows that looked inactive.
I put the rabbit fence between those burrows and the active areas to keep the newbies from interacting too soon with the other residents.
Also mowed down some of the catclaw and mesquite clumps that are getting tall from all the recent rain.
Need to maintain the sight line for our doggies. It’s their best defense.
I also covered a couple of the larger holes with hogwire, to keep badgers out (or bug them into moving along). I didn’t see signs of badger activity—most of the burrows look like they are occupied by prairie dogs or ground squirrels.. or burrowing owls. I flushed one owl as I visited the colony. I also saw a horned lizard along the road to the prairie dog colony.
We could use some more mowing this summer. The roads are all overgrown. Being able to see the horned lizards on the road is one good reason to keep them open!

I visited the “toad pond, (Too bad this tank doesn’t hold water. ) it had dropped down about 15 feet and was now home to mosquitoes, flies and dragonflies. No toad chorus this visit. I realized how lucky we were to witness the chorus during our last visit.

I stayed until midday Saturday when temps headed back into the mid-90s. I plan to go out next Saturday and stay through Sunday. Y’all are welcome to come out, even though the next few months are not the optimal time to visit… unless you like the heat and chasing reptiles…

June 18, 2017

I made another quick trip to Maddin this weekend. (I spent Saturday night in San Angelo since the temperatures were supposed to reach 106 degrees in Colorado City!)

I got to Maddin early Sunday morning and the wind blew briefly from the northeast bringing the 10 degree cool down…
Still very birdy. It’s been a good spring. Saw one horned lizard along the road to the prairie dog town.
Other lizards were out as well along with many insects, including butterflies, grasshoppers, wasps, moths, praying mantis, etc.

I did another inventory of available (unused) burrows and chose a different three than last week’s (those looked like someone was actually using them).

Joanne Haddock of Citizens for Prairie Dogs (Lubbock) came out around 10:45.
She had about 10 rescue, wild prairie dogs that she’d been holding for a few weeks and months.
She just pulled them out of their cages (by the tails) and deposited them in the burrows.
We decided that one prairie dog looked too old to be left, so she took him back with her. (He seemed quite content to munch carrots in his cage.)
She left a bunch of carrots around the burrows and I added some fresh grass cuttings. They don’t have far to go to get grass.
It has been such a rainy spring that our grasses are doing very well. I hope these guys make themselves at home in our colony. I did put up a stretch of rabbit fence to keep them kind of separated for a while.

Joanne is not doing prairie dog relocation anymore, it’s just too physically taxing. She says nobody in Texas is doing it right now. But she gets prairie dogs from the Lubbock wildlife center every now and then. People catch them when they are wandering. I told her we could accommodate a few now and then too. But most of our burrows are in use.

I also tinkered with the irrigation system and managed to get more water in the trough, but this is just a temporary solution till we get that water tank back in place. Since summer is in full (heat) blast, I’ll probably go out in mid-July to add more water.

Joanne’s method is to reach into the cage and grab these guys by the tail. There were a couple of scruffy-looking doggies in this bunch. I think they may have been fighting.

Two types of milkweed at the prairie dog town: antelope horns and zizotes.

One the southeastern side of the prairie dog town. I put the old cages next to the burrows to make them easier to spot. The rabbit fence will, hopefully keep them separate for a little while…
Kirsti Harms