From Exploring the Woods to Peering into a Microscope

Happy day. I am enjoying my second Texas Master Naturalist conference very much. It’s so nice to just enjoy learning with no pressure at all.

The prairie area

This morning I went on a field trip to the Spring Creek Forest Preserve. Wow, the people presenting me so much about the area. My head is full of little tidbits about prairies, forests, and riparian areas.

I also saw so many beautiful seed pods and fall plants. Lots of photos were taken by everyone.

Dew and webs.
iNaturalist says this is liatris.

The forest was really special. It was once a quarry site, and it was cool to see how big trees have grown since then. Closer to the creek there are many huge old chinquapin oaks, pecans, and native elm.

Biggest pecan tree any of us have ever seen.

Of course, there were a few scary things. There were two widely different poison ivy types, one in the limestone and one in the woods.

Poison ivy of the limestone.
Poison ivy of the woods.

And we encountered a little baby copperhead. It just froze and let us walk by. Of course, all of us Naturalists were excited, not scared!

Baby with green still on its tail.

We enjoyed looking at the creek, which is among the cleanest in the area. It was absolutely clear. I could have stayed there all day. Maybe I’ll come back to see the trout lilies in February and bring friends.

Spring Creek never goes dry.

Microscope Time

When I got back, I switched gears and put my brain into high learning mode. I took a four-hour class on sedges and rushes led by Dale Kruse. I was determined to do a better job using keys to identify plants. (Keys are step-by-step ID tools.)

My partner and I eventually got the microscope under control, and dissected some tiny seeds and figured out were looking at. By the end of the day, we did mostly by ourselves. It is hard, but fun.

Failed attempt at microscope photography.

I’m also a lot more confident that I’ll be able to figure out what plants are in our arroyo.

Confession: I came back to my room after listening to Trammell Crow ramble on about Earth X so I can listen to the Yoe game on the radio. It’s almost like I’m with Cathy, Sara, and Paula.

He’s more than just real estate.

I need introvert time!

Hackberry bark. Ahh.

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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