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ALL PRAIRIE ENTHUSIASTS!  REGISTER & ATTEND OUR FREE “Wildlife and Grasslands Restoration Workshop” Lunch will be provided. All are welcome for all or a…

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Our Blog includes the Report filed by Leigh Ann Ellis.

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The Fort Worth NPAT Chapter Saturday, 1pm to 6pm!Enjoy the fall afternoon touring the beautiful

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October 14, 2017 Report on Blackland Chapter’s Mathews/Clymer Meadows Prairies Field Trip

Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017

Report on Blackland Chapter’s October 14, 2017

Mathews/Clymer Meadows Prairies Field Trip

Brandon Belcher IS THE BEST! We adore him!! (he’s the North Texas Preserves Manager for TNC). He spent a lot of time with us, guiding us around the prairies.

Folks had a challenging time walking in Paul Mathews Prairie: It is dense and the indentions made walking hazardous for a few. Walking sticks were a big help.
A few folks left after lunch due to the heat. The forecasts called for low 90’s, but around Greenville it reached 95 degrees. 
We all sat together for lunch which was nice. It was good to hear all of the comments and feedback. A few folks said they like the smaller tour groups (in total, 8 folks attended). It was easier for group mobility and hearing the guide. I thought that was interesting. (Something to keep in mind for the future.)
We did gather a few grass seeds from Clymer for the future Texas Native Seeds Project…small amounts.  We left Clymer around 3pm.
Next month is Cedar Ridge Preserve with Tom Willard.

Thanks for everything,
Leigh Ann Ellis

 

Save The Dates: November 10-12, 2017 - Denton, TX

Wednesday, Sep 13, 2017

WATCH THE SKYS!  POLLINATOR MIGRATIONS ARE BEGINNING!

Tuesday, Aug 01, 2017

WATCH THE SKYS!  MIGRATIONS ARE BEGINNING!

MONITOR “LIVE” ON WEBSITES!

As we progress through the upcoming weeks of our LONG – HOT SUMMER, we can observe some of our feathered friends as they fly south to their winter homes in Central America and South America. 

Migrations begin for the Purple Martins, Hummingbirds, Monarch Butterflies, and Mexican Free-tailed Bats (just to name a few, plus swallows, cranes, and many more)!  Some of the migrations can be observed online thanks to some very clever technology:

MIGRATIOIN OF MONARCH BUTTERFLY Danaus plexippus

Observe the Monarch Migration - Report Summer Sightings on the U.S. Forest Service’s migration map!

Early Spring to Late Summer Timeline:
In late February or early March Monarch Butterflies awake from hibernation where they’ve been in the protected forests of oyamel fir trees in Central Mexico. They find a mate and begin the long journey northward for to spend spring and summer in warmer climates and pollinate plants as they travel to north or northeast areas of North America (U.S. and Canada).  Each generation lives 2-6 weeks; each progresses northward during those weeks, each generation will live long enough to lay eggs, then it dies.

The fourth generation begins migrating southward in early autumn; they must fly thousands of miles (taking several weeks) to reach their destination in Central Mexico by November.  There they will hibernate until late February or early March when they will mate and begin the long journey northward. (We have observed spring arrivals in Central Texas; they like to lay their eggs on milkweed plants.) Remember each generation (first, second, and third) usually lives no longer than a period of 6 weeks, during which they have mated, laid their eggs, and died. Some of the fourth generation fly as far north as Canada by May and June.

MIGRATE SOUTH FOR WINTER The Monarch Butterfly cannot survive cold winters of northern climates, so in early fall, monarchs living in eastern North America migrates south, funneling through Texas and hugging the Gulf Coast on their way to central Mexico.  The last generation is responsible for the Monarch Butterflies’ survival: it MUST fly to Central Mexico so they can hibernate over the winter months!  It is amazing to realize these butterflies have never flown the southern migration route nor seen the oyamel fir tree forest in Central Mexico.  (They were all born in far North America months after their ‘ancestors’, the first, second and third generations made their journeys living just long enough to mature, mate, and lay eggs of future generations before dying.  Each newly hatched generation lived to fly its portion of the journey.)  The entire Monarch Butterfly population will hibernate in fewer than 20 sites within the exact same oyamel fir trees in which their ancestors hibernated.  Imagine 20-30 million in clusters to keep warm. 
Photo of Oyamel Fir Tree in Central Mexico:

MIGRATION of the MEXICAN FREE-TAILED BAT Tadarida brasiliensis

“BAT-WATCH” LIVE!
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department collaborated with Bat Conservation International and recently introduced the site: Bat-Watching Sites of Texas!   It highlights 12 Texas bat-watching sites (4 are TPWD properties!) and covers general bat biology, lists bat species in Texas, discusses white-nose syndrome (WNS), and explains bat-watching etiquette.

The Nature Conservancy wrote that the Eckert James River Bat Cave is one of the largest bat nurseries in the country. Photo of Bats near the Eckert James River Bat Cave:

Mexican free-tailed bats are the most common bat found throughout Texas. These mammals are VERY BENEFICIAL, as they are agents of seed dispersal and cross-pollination for many plant species.  They join other beneficial pollinators, purple martins, hummingbirds and swallows, in helping control insect populations!  Each bat consumes close to its body weight in insects (they eat mosquitoes and numerous crop pests such as cutworm and corn borer moths).  Like the Monarch Butterflies, the bats, who are mammals, also winter in Mexico, but they settle into and remain in caves!  Mexican free-tailed bats begin their migration southward in October through mid-November (when the first cold fronts start to push through).  Like the monarchs, they also fly to central Mexico, but they spend the winter in caves.  Then in February they begin their northward migration to Texas.

The female bats form large “maternity colonies” where they will raise their young.  They require high humidity and high temperature levels (so Texas is perfect)! 
Once the bats mate, the male bats move into their new, smaller “bachelor colonies”.  They live away from females and pups and are not involved in raising the young.
The mother bats’ milk is very rich; so within 4-5 weeks they have grown and are ready to fly.  The mothers and pups remain in the ‘maternity colonies’; it gets VERY crowded. They roost in densities of up to 500 pups per square foot. The mother has miraculous hearing; each mother can return from eating insects and fly directly into the cave to her own baby by using her sense of smell and knowing the sound of their pup’s call.

Then, when the first cold fronts start pushing through in late October to mid-November, the Mexican free-tailed bats begin their migration to Mexico for the winter.

Wild About Houston Short Film Screening-August 23, 2017-Houston, TX

Monday, Jul 24, 2017

Wild About Houston Short Film Screening

Wednesday beginning at 6:30 pm - HNPAT Monthly Meeting

Co-presenting this event: Houston - NPAT, Katy Prairie Conservancy, and Coastal Prairie Partnership at the Cherie Flores Pavilion in Hermann Park.

The goal of this short film screening will be to “spotlight short (10 minutes or less) films” that focus on local conservation efforts or local wildlife/ecosystems.

We see this as a local complement to the Wild & Scenic Festivals that Citizens Environmental Coalition Houston and Bayou Land Conservancy are hosting.
We ​would​ love for ​you or ​your group to submit a film for consideration. If you would like to submit an entry please click here and fill out a short form.
We hope you can submit a film and make the screening!

Have You Watched Pollinators? by Barbara Keller-Willy

Tuesday, Jul 11, 2017

Have you stopped not only to smell a flower but to watch a pollinator extracting nectar from a flower?
Thanks “Strands Prairie - Follet Island,”
for allowing us to refresh our minds in your beauty and wonder!

Gratitude and photos contributed by NPAT’s Board President, Barbara Keller-Willy

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