|Trout Lily (Erythronium albidum) pollinated by bee, Gateway Park, Great Trinity Forest in Dallas, Texas|
|Bobcat (Lynx rufus) hunting the open prairie in Dallas, Texas|
Here, free from flood and good shallow bedrock, Dallas built her residential subdivisions in the middle of century last. Just high enough to dodge the largest of floods but close enough to bottomland trees to enjoy filtered shade. The once worthless land became the high valued creek-lot backyards of the well heeled. With the homes came lot scraping construction, removing what was most likely near continuous colonies of trout lilies up and down the Trinity River drainage.
|White Trout Lily, Dallas County, Texas|
7 Years To Produce A Flower
|Known colonies of White Trout Lilies in Texas, 2010, USDA|
|White Trout Lily Flower|
|Trout Lily in the Great Trinity Forest|
|Trout Lily patch on Lower White Rock Creek, Great Trinity Forest, Dallas, Texas|
|Trout Lily pollination at Spring Creek Forest Preserve|
|At the Trout Lily Grove, White Rock Lake, Dallas, Texas|
|Bee collecting nectar from Trout Lily, Great Trinity Forest|
The race from bulb to flower to seed completes in a ten weeks. Short by any measure. Shorter still is the actual flowering period that when given the length of time flowers are actually open, can be measure in hours. Rare and special to see.
Trout lilies take so many years to mature, so difficult for seed to spread, so hard to see in other times of the year that they have become a splintered subset of colonies here in the Dallas area. Separated by great distances in geography and existing in ecological isolation, TWU is conducting DNA sampling in the various colonies in Texas to determine their genetic structure.
Scientists note there are two main threats to the trout lily colonies here in the Dallas area. Threat of habitat loss by humans and the spread of the invasive Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata). I would add especially in the Great Trinity Forest, the invasive Chinese Privet which is capable or choking out all beneath it. Visiting a few of these colonies most seem to be clear of encroaching invasive species, the exception being White Rock Lake where privet and honeysuckle are slowly making their move.
|3D photo of a bee on a Trout Lily, Spring Creek Forest Preserve (3d glasses required)|
If you stick around until the sun sets................
|Star trail time exposure in the Great Trinity Forest, Dallas, Texas, Winter 2013|
These open prairie fields are often interrupted by timber breaks and transition zones between open bare caliche and the floodplain timber below. The timber here is often rich in animal life far beyond what many expect. Were one to never visit or see it themselves they would never know.
With short days and long nights the woods down here along the White Rock Creek drainage give one great early evening foliage free viewing of the night predators.
Under the ghostly shadows of a February moon, the owls of these bottomlands come out to hunt prey as large as themselves.
In a rare comparison, the Trout Lily and Great Horned Owl share a common bond. Being first. The Great Horned Owl is one of the first birds to nest and rear young in the new year. Paired up and mating by New Year's Day, they bring young into the world earlier than others. Here, in these photos the male is actively hunting at night more than ever before in late February.
|Male Great Horned Owl Dallas, Texas|
Cat vs Bird
|Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) dismembering domestic house cat (Felis catus) backlit by the moon|
|Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) Dallas, TX|
The Great Horned Owl has no known natural enemies, is rumored to be immune to rabies and a whole host of diseases that vermin are known to carry. A true beast of a bird.
|Barred Owl (Strix varia) Dallas, TX|
The smaller native owl to this area is the Barred Owl, seen at right. Weighing in at a pound or two, they are smaller than a Great Horned Owl. They make up for it in the vocal department with blood curdling calls that fill the woods in the evenings around sunset.
Barred Owls are viciously territorial against other Barred Owls and make their presence known wherever they are.
Calls of the Great Horned Owl and Barred Owl, a comparison
A special thanks to some special people who shared their information on trout lilies in Dallas County with me, including some of their closely guarded secret spots: Tom Frey, Landscape Architect for the City of Garland; Bill Holston, Master Naturalist; Hal and Ted Barker, preservation advocates for White Rock Lake; Jim Flood, Master Naturalist.
Note: Jim Flood is hosting a series of Buckeye Trail hikes in the coming weeks listed on his website: http://www.texasbuckeyetrail.org/hikes2013.html
|Great Trinity Forest Trout Lilies, Dallas, Texas|