Habitats of the Llano Estacado
Photoessay – Tahoka Lake - May 1, 2009
Tahoka Lake is a large salina (salt lake) set deep into the Llano Estacado. The bottom of the salina is over a hundred feet below the surrounding plains. Cliffs of limestone, alkali seeps, draws with springs, sandy ridges, and freshwater pools create an amazing diversity to the location. Mrs. Clyde May, the owner of the western side of the lake is working to preserve the location as a non-profit education facility that educates folks on the history and ecology of the salinas of the Llano Estacado. Dr. Eileen Johnson, of the Lubbock Lake Landmark archaeological site, led an archaeological field school there to examine a pastores camp and stone fence, as well as to survey the site of American Indian use. Several researchers have studied the use of the salinas by shorebirds and other birds during visits to the lake.
Debi Cates and Donna Chafin were asked to photograph the site for a year by the Sibley Nature Center staff. Debi was only able to do it for a few months, but Donna continued contributing through the growing season and beyond.
The following photos were taken by Donna Chafin.
Related 2009 photoessays: Feb 7 | Feb 21 | Feb 28 | Mar 7-8 | May 12-13 | Jun 17 | Jul 6 | Jul 16-Aug 4
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Dawn on the first of May showed that the lake was almost dry.
A cattle trail led across the mud of the lake.
Why did 2 more cows wander across the lake?
Mimosa borealis has lovely pink blooms in the spring, but the sharp curved spines grab at unwary passerbys.
May is often muggy and hazy.
The haze persists for a couple of hours.
The mesquite is still leafless.
Squirrel tail grass is a very noticeable grass that blooms in the spring. Basket flowers are beginning to grow rapidly.
Does the withered tendrils indicate that this white evening primrose has been pollinated?
Indian blanket is a favorite wildflower of Llaneros.
Hackberry groves, when leafed out, are very inviting places.
Spiderwort gathered some dew on the muggy morning.
Soapberry groves have a different character than hackberry groves.
A buffalo gourd had begun to grow.
Yellow evening primrose is a common annual on the Llano Estacado.
What knocked the pollen off of the anthers – and is that a spider web? And is that a bug hiding behind one of the filaments of the anthers?
A small sucker in the soapberry grove had just begun to leaf out.
Are these juniper berries in very fresh fox scat?
Spiderwort from the side reveals a very delicate and wondrous beauty.
Salsify is an exotic wildflower than became common on the Llano Estacado in the 1960s.
Purple thistle bloom buds are architectural marvels.
A mouse had cached an owl pellet and some berries from the fox scat.
Dew dippled a copper mallow flower bud.
Chocolate daisies flowers have an amazing structure.
Holy sage sprouts in late April. This species of Artemisia is found in many habitats, while most of the other species are confined to one or two habitats.
New leaves popped out on hackberry … but one of the Sibley staff wonders if this is a chittamwood, instead.
Kisses (Gaura coccinea) is a common spring wildflower.
Spring means calves on the ranch.
Is this Verbena goodingii or V. bipinnafitida?
Flies gather on fresh cow poop, and photographers have to watch where they are going.
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