Thursday, May 31, 2007

3 Snappers

I saw THREE snapping turtles on the reach yesterday morning. I watched one of them struggle to climb over the cement shelf that creates "Cherrywood Falls." It succeeded, after some wince inducing slips. The other two were in the Bathtub. Cool.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Red Swing 026

A new red swing appeared mysteriously on the Reach recently, courtesy the Their goal is to bring playfulness to an increasingly complicated urban environment. They install these swings in settings, like the Reach, that make sense. Places where you might expect to find such a thing. But they've also installed them amongst debris and industrial clutter in settings that surprise. For example, they swung through New Orleans recently and left behind a wake of random swings in badly hit neighborhoods.

Ah, to swing the day away! I highly recommend it.

Thanks go out to the Red Swing Project for bringing some love to the Reach.

Friday, May 18, 2007


Some photos of wildflowers along the Reach this may (oh, and one interloper heron that I finally captured on film):

Indian blanket

Look Gale! It's a winecup!

Mustang grapes-to-be?

Mexican hat

Leaves of three, let it be. Yikes. Poison ivy.

Silver-leaf Nightshade

Night heron

Thursday, May 17, 2007

All along the Bathtub

The latest and greatest wildlife report:

Spiderworts--with a name that evokes witchcraft and cauldrons boiling--are shade loving, early spring blooming plants that are on their way out. The flowers bloom once, but during bloom time the plant produces so many flowers that it remains in flower day after day. Now, I only see the drooping seed heads, which means that soon, the plants will go dormant for the summer.

Some kind of morning glory is starting to make an appearance. (I tried to snap a photo this morning, but my surprisingly unsustainable digital camera sucks through batteries like an aphid on cocaine. So the photo here is snagged from the Wildflower Center.)

Sensitive briar, coreopsis, Mexican hat and Indian blanket have all made a come back since the last mowing. (But so has the Johnson grass, whose pink blooming stalks are shooting up around the banks.)

A came across a snake in the Bathtub this morning. (That combination of words is probably enough to strike fear in many of you. Don't even think about making it into a bad movie.)

Snakes are frighteningly beautiful and always slightly startling. The fear response is clearly an evolutionarily adapted response, and rightly so, especially here in Texas, where there are quite a few snakes that you don't want to get into a tangle with. The Reach is unlikely to have any poisonous snakes, but it's always best to use caution. The one I saw this morning was clearly non-poisonous, and beautifully undulating through the deep waters of the Tub.

Speaking of the deep-water Bathtub, it supports quite a healthy little ecosystem. Dave W. reported a large owl there just the other day (could be a Great-horned owl, which I also saw at the Reach last fall). The snapping turtle(s) also call the Tub home, and in fact, I saw two mating there last summer. It's also where we've recently seen Great Blue Herons taking a pit-stop during migration and wood ducks. By the way, if you're looking for the Yellow-crowned Night Heron, it usually likes to hunt in more secluded areas with overgrowth down the creek.

Wouldn't it be cool to stumble upon a fish being eaten by a snake just before the snake is grabbed by one of our hawks or owls? Nature rocks.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


David B. brought the CommuniTrees program to my attention. This could be a really great way to get even more trees than that with the KAB grant!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Brainstorms from 5/1/2007 meeting

Here are the brainstorm ideas from our meeting on 5/1/07. In attendance were Priscilla, Lee, Girard, David B (in absentia), Dolly, Dave W., John, Aaron and Gale. Numbers following items indicate independent mentions of the idea (remember, we were all given an open forum to throw out our ideas for the Reach and many of us touched on some of the same things). Items with no number means it was only mentioned once, but that doesn't mean the idea was or wasn't oohed and aahed by the others! I've tried to organize by category, but there is some inevitable crossover.


Plants and Trees
open mown spaces, including for human use like Frisbee and croquet (4)
wildflowers (3)
woodland areas or groves (2)
no mow areas (2)
no mow area from path to creek (2)
planting plan (2)
completely wild
crape myrtles
more trees
trees concentrated along the creek (eg, riparian trees, bald cypress)
tree/plant inventory
adopt-a-tree program
more native plants
more native shrubs and small trees (fruiting and flowering)
removal of invasive species over time
poison ivy control

more wildlife (snakes, birds, amphibians) (4)
butterfly gardens (3)
purple martin propagator (2)
certified monarch butterfly habitat
wildlife habitat certification
bat houses
more pools of water for wildlife

Paths and Hardscape
bridge (5)
wider path (overall or at points) (4)
move path away from creek in sensitive areas (2)
spur trails connecting to street at midpoints
subtle, landscape level lighting at choice points

Creek and Water
deal with drainage problems
small dams to control flow, create pools
better erosion control
native erosion control
prevent water from going under pipes
pipes crossing creek hidden or removed

Human uses
better enforcement of poop pick-up, more poop bag containers (2)
more trash cans and trash pickup
not too many picnic tables
maintain as greenbelt with low impact human uses
picnic tables
creek cleanups
regular maintenance plan
drinking fountain

Art, Education and Other Features
educational signs for trees, wildflowers and animals (3)
bulletin board or kiosk (2)
public art (2)
murals on bridge overpass
acknowledgement of the history of the area (ie, old dairy farm)
recycling dead trees for stuff in the park
community vegetable garden

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Hurray for Us!

I just heard that we've been awarded a Keep Austin Beautiful Neighborhood Beautification Grant for a tree planting and erosion control project at the Reach.

This is a great jumpstart for FLWR, and we're all very excited to be working with members of KAB, Austin Energy and the City of Austin Watershed Protection Department to enhance our greenbelt.


[Read this announcement in the Statesman.]