A lot closer than the Big Thicket, what East Texas used to be like

We have some really cool trees in East Texas. Our magnolias are like a scaled-up flower, with their large, leathery oval leaves, and their even larger white blooms that mature into cone-like structures good for throwing. Our bald cypresses have knees and knobs sticking out of the ground, and improbably feathery leaves for such a large tree. You could weave a skirt out of the strips of loose bark, were you so inclined. There are more than 750 other plants in Jesse H. Jones County Park, tucked away just north of the main airport (IAH) down Kenswick Dive, off 1960. It is apparently a 300 acre contribution towards a green belt along Spring Creek that they hope will reach 12,000 acres. I had no idea such a great project was part of the Houston environs, but the Spring Creek Greenway is up and running, walking, paddling.

People fish in Spring Creek. It has a sandy beach on the northwest side of the park, though I couldn’t imagine swimming in the creek. This is a real Texas park, complete with an indian village, and a settler’s village, and re-enactments of those times the second February of every year. February and March are great months here, good for outdoor festivities. My husband always says the problem is we have great weather at a time of year with short days. Back in Michigan the great weather comes with the long days, though not as long as we had in Denmark!

There weren’t very many people in the park last Sunday. A few were fishing. A happy-looking middle-aged couple were facing each other on a bench, holding hands, talking, laughing. We were there with our bird class, and what we saw was typical of the season. The parula warblers were buzzing and singing all over. Cin-Ty figured we saw about 10 different individuals. The students struggled to see any, but, I think, all succeeded. We would go to this park more often if we lived on this side of town.

You can look up who Jesse H. Jones was. On the good side he started a charity he called the Houston Endowment with his wife, Mary Gibbs Jones, and these names are scattered all around Houston on all kinds of buildings and parks they gave funding for. That funding started with lumber, a nice word for tearing down forests. Jones also joined and then took over the Houston Chronicle. He is responsible for a lot of the growth around here, including getting the funding for the ship channel, according to Wikipedia. He was very conservative, and met in a hotel room regularly to twist political events with his cronies. He was before Molly Ivins’ time, and I would have loved to hear her take on his dealing. But, don’t forget the good of the Houston Endowment. We didn’t think about it as we enjoyed the sunny springtime park.

Cin-Ty’s bird list for the day.

Location:     Jesse H. Jones County Park (UTC 038)
Observation date:     3/20/11
Number of species:     28
Cattle Egret 10
Black Vulture 1
Turkey Vulture 1
Cooper's Hawk 1
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Mourning Dove 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 5
Downy Woodpecker 2
Pileated Woodpecker 2
Eastern Phoebe 1
White-eyed Vireo 2
Blue Jay 10
American Crow 10
Carolina Chickadee 15
Tufted Titmouse 15
Carolina Wren 15
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 5
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 10
Hermit Thrush 1
Northern Mockingbird 6
European Starling 20
Northern Parula 10
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 20
Chipping Sparrow 20
Great-tailed Grackle 2
American Goldfinch 15
House Sparrow 5

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)


IMG_5176.JPG
Those knobby cypress knees.IMG_5186.jpg The clouds raced overhead that day.

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About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
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