Journal archives for November 2017

November 13, 2017

Digging deeper on my visit to a hidden nature park

On the last day of my trip to Corpus Christi for the Tx Master Naturalist conference, I decided I would stop by somewhere small on my way home that didn't have any observations on iNaturalist. I was barely out of town when I pulled over, googled "nature park" and came across Fred Jones Nature Sanctuary in Taft, TX. I drove past lots of farmland, and unexpectedly zipped right on by the hidden park entrance, which is little more than a wooden sign on a gate overgrown with vegetation.

I backtracked and took a quick peek, confirming boots would be required. The place was incredibly overgrown and looked uncared for. At the front was a structure with picnic tables underneath, but it was in bad disrepair. The flora was mostly new to me, so I spent as long as I wanted just wandering around, often trudging through grass growing chest high. I tried to follow what used to be walking paths, but I could only go so far with the overgrowth. I spent 20 minutes just watching the wind create waves in the grass and dragonflies chasing each other around. It was so peaceful.

I was excited to spot Allocyclosa bifurca, a spider (deep in the dark corner of the structure) that I'd never seen before. The plants I'm still trying to ID!

But the reason for the post is what I found out tonight while uploading the pics. It turns out this property was the original homestead of Fred B. Jones, amateur botanist and one of the founders of the Audubon Outdoor Club. He authored "Flora of the Texas Coastal Bend," 1977, and "Flowering Plants and Ferns of the Texas Coastal Bend Counties," 1961. He also contributed the majority of the 4600+ specimens at the Welder Wildlife Foundation herbarium.

I found a video by a young man named Tyler Neimeier. It looks ENTIRELY different in his visit from March, 2017, only 6 months earlier. I never came across the metal feeder (?) or any standing water. No boardwalks either. I probably accessed only 2 of the 9 acres it's reported to have. I suppose it's due to a combination of Hurricane Harvey and donations to the AOC. I sincerely hope it will be put back in order very soon. It's a great little place. Thank you Fred Jones!

PS. It's probably a good thing I didn't push on through the high grass. Alligators don't care whether you have boots on or not.

Posted on November 13, 2017 07:42 by kimberlietx kimberlietx | 2 observations | 7 comments | Leave a comment