Nature Trail Tour January, 2007
Take a virtual tour of the Sibley Nature Tour!
[Additional Tours: February, 2006 | April, 2006 | May, 2006 | July, 2006 | August, 2006 | October, 2006]
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Rabbit tracks led photographer Richard Galle down the trail. Near the playa, yellow tumbleweeds provided a splash of color in a black and white landscape.
At the pond in the playa, the dock was motionless, locked in ice. Beyond the cattails, a cottonwood with a very cold Harris's Hawk looked toward the skyline of Midland.
Normally a welcoming respite, the benches under the Siberian elms only look cold, and the photographer's blind seems unapproachable.
The workmanship at the Junior Master Gardener compound was made even more evident by the addition of snow to provide contrast.
The trail underneath the snow is smooth "chat" (ground up caliche), so why was the snow's surface bumpy? Rabbit tracks were everywhere for the Sibley property has a very elevated population of them because of the ease of finding food in the surrounding watered park land.
What dug here, and why? Was it one of the resident skunks? Or a fox? Or a visiting coyote? Had a mouse been under the snow?
The smaller species of yucca often reproduce by rhizomes (suckers). One tip of one yucca leaf had turned yellow.
Algerita (agarita) is native to the breaks east of the Llano Estacado, but grows well on it. Notice the one dead leaf on it, too.
Under the mesquite is where a rabbit stopped briefly. In the right corner, and behind the mesquite are tasajillo cactus.
On the western edge of the property are a number of live oaks that are never irrigated, and are much bigger than those trees in the irrigated section of the park. The reflected light on the snow revealed the color of the trunk.
Three Harris's Hawks resided at the Sibley Nature Center during the 2006-2007 winter. It had been over ten years since another family had spent the winter. Small family groups of the species stay together and survive by team-hunting rabbits.
The golden and reddish stems of the bluestem grass provided a bright splotch of color to the landscape.
Fence posts make good snowdepth gauges but the rabbits could care lessall they want is something green to nibble, and that can be hard to find under the snow.
Is this a Vermilion Flycatcher or a House Finch all hunkered down in a snow-covered mesquite?
During a different storm, a cottontail remained motionless. A few mesquite leaves were still on the branches of the bushes.
When the snow began to melt, peculiar shapes of snow were left on the bare ground. Was the snow deeper in those places because of wind currents as it fell?
Cory ephedra (the dark green patch) is endemic to the Llano Estacado and the surrounding region. Yuccas, mesquite, and broomweed also dot the cold landscape.
Golden tan desert holly forms rhizomatous clumps under mesquite, and become more noticeable against the white snow cover.
Algerita, again, as the snow falls. A cactus wren remained hidden on the other side of the bush as Richard took the picture.
Tasajillo berries are the brightest bit of color in the landscape, but the golden seed umbels of the broomweed are almost as bright.
In yet another storm, the ground was covered with a mix of ice and snow, and was so slick and slippery that walking was a challenge.
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