Taking Refuge in Walktober

A view of Coushatta Creek

Earlier this month, I noticed several bloggers posting about an event called ‘Walktober.’ It didn’t take long to find the common link: an invitation by Robin, of Breezes at Dawn, to walk, ride, kayak, or hike into new territory or old as a way of celebrating this season of transition.

While many participants shared images of glorious autumn color, we’re still surrounded by mostly-green foliage here in southeast Texas; color changes in our trees often don’t appear until mid-to-late November. Still, autumn flowers and grasses, ripening berries, and lingering summer blooms add both color and interest to the landscape.

At the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge, seasonal variety on the prairie is complemented by the presence of a lake and riparian corridors. After visits on October 4 and 18, I became determined to allow even more time for exploring all of the Refuge’s delights.

Coushatta Creek, named for the tribe which began populating Texas’s Big Thicket in the late 1700s, rises in northeastern Colorado County, runs to the southeast, and eventually joins the San Bernard River.The lower part of the creek’s course bisects the Attwater refuge, providing a rich source of food and shelter.

Beautyberries (Callicarpa americana) are especially abundant along the creek’s edge
Drummond’s wood-sorrel (Oxalis drummondii), familiar in springtime, lingers on
A splash of yellow partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata) shines against the creek waters A beetle, a spider, a thrip, and a slug share a rosy palafox bloom (Palafoxia rosea)

After crossing Coushatta creek on a small bridge, a trail leads to Horseshoe Lake. A magnet for many of the more than 150 species of birds sighted on the refuge, the lake fills with waterlilies and lotuses in season.

White American waterlily (Nymphaea odorata)

A single Maryland Meadow Beauty bloomed on a hillside below the lake. Introduced to the flower on the Nash Prairie, I’ve often found it in east Texas, as well.

Maryland meadow beauty (Rhexia mariana)

The sandy trail leading to the bird blind was filled with sun-loving plants, including the small but lovely bracted fanpetals, and another flower that’s common here both in spring and in fall: crow poison.

Bracted fanpetals (Sida ciliaris)
Crow poison (Nothoscordum bivalve)

Brandon Melton, one of the biologists on staff at the refuge, identified this camphorweed for me. Although I didn’t hike to the other side of the lake, I’m certain this plant figured prominently in the lovely yellow glow I shared in a previous post.

Camphorweed (Heterotheca subaxillaris)

Insects were everywhere, of course. Some were familiar, but this small moth — a little worse for wear but still active — was a fine discovery. The adult reportedly flies from September to December, favoring many fall-blooming Texas species like Eupatorium spp.

White-tipped black (Melanchroia chephise)

Two common mistflowers were present on refuge land: one in a meadow near the lake, and one at the edge of woodland shade. After examining their leaves and stems, I’m more confident in my ability to identify the species in the future.

Gregg’s Mistflower (Conoclinium dissectum)
Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum)

Even absent the sight of an Attwater Prairie Chicken, the prairie itself is remarkably varied and beautiful.

The sight of Baccharis neglecta gracefully bending before the wind makes one of its common names, ‘false willow,’ understandable. Other names, referencing Roosevelt, the Depression, and poverty, recall attempts to recover from the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl by planting Baccharis species to revegetate drought-damaged soils.

Poverty weed, or Roosevelt weed (Baccharis neglecta)

Already fading but still lovely, heartsepal buckwheat spread across the land — a new addition to my growing list of favorite white flowers.

Heartsepal buckwheat (Eriogonum multiflorum)

Here and there, the buckwheat was accompanied by a few remaining stems of Lindheimer’s beeblossom, or gaura. Gaura is derived from the Greek gauros, or ‘superb’ — a perfect descriptor for these flowers. The specific epithet honors Ferdinand Jacob Lindheimer (1801-1879), Texas botanist extraordinaire.

Lindheimer’s beeblossom, or gaura (Gaura lindheimeri)

If this companion of the pretty white calf I photographed nearby was trying to hide, he needed to find something more substantial than a stand of airy bladderpod.

Bladderpod (Sesbania vesicaria)

While most of the leaves had dropped and the seedpods were drying, recent rains had encouraged new growth, including the emergence of this pretty bladderpod flower.

An emerging late bladderpod bloom

Coincidentally, I’d come across this somehow familiar plant on the west end of Galveston Island a week earlier. Finally, I found the common name: bushy goldentop. The name’s certainly appropriate, since the flowers are as golden as any goldenrod.

Bushy goldentop (Euthamia leptocephala)

Perhaps the greatest surprise on the prairie was the widespread presence of Gulf Muhly, a pretty native grass I’d seen only in landscape plantings. It complemented both the heartsepal buckwheat and a variety of yellow flowers beautifully.

Gulf Muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris)
A closer view of the prettiest grass in the world

Of course sunflowers were everywhere. I was intrigued to find the common sunflower, Helianthus annuus, less common than swamp sunflowers or the so-called tickseed sunflower, which belongs in an entirely different genus.

Swamp Sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius)
Tickseed Sunflower (Bidens aristosa)

But the final amazement of the day was this single white prickly poppy. One of my favorite flowers, it had set up shop in the midst of buckwheat and bladderpod only feet from the end of the auto route. If it weren’t entirely too fanciful, I might have imagined Nature saying, “Here’s one last flower, just for you.”

White prickly poppy (Argemone albiflora)


Comments always are welcome.

133 thoughts on “Taking Refuge in Walktober

  1. What a nice walk. I have photos lined up for a Walktober post and hope to get to it tonight! We’ll see. What a lovely variety of beautiful things are available just for the looking! A very enjoyable walk.

    1. I always find something new when I spend a day wandering, and often there are some real surprises. This refuge was a new spot for me, so I expected to find unfamiliar plants, but even in places I visit regularly, there’s just no predicting what will be found. As you say, it’s the looking that makes the difference.

  2. You might not have the glorious foliage of New England—at least not yet—but there is plenty of beauty to be found where you live. One of the best things about blogging is to see how different types of beauty fan out across the country, around the world. Wondrous diversity.

    1. One thing is certain; walking often is the best way to appreciate the small beauties that surround us. Driving an auto loop is one thing; it has its pleasures, and much can be seen. But it’s hard to spot spiders and caterpillars from a car, not to mention the small, hidden flowers or scurrying creatures. As the saying goes, there’s a whole other world out there.

    1. I think those of us who grew up with dramatic autumn foliage often are as nostalgic as envious when we see those glorious fall colors. We’re lucky to have our “second spring.” As you say, it goes a good way toward making up for leaf-lack!

    1. Thanks so much; I’m glad you enjoyed it. There’s a lot to be seen in every neighborhood, whether lighthouses or lightning bugs. The trick is to take time to look.

  3. Is the crow poison poison to crows? Does the mistflower grow in other colors than blue? You have uncovered so many new flowers. You always amaze me with the beauty you discover. Maybe because you look for it. It is there to be discovered by all who delve into their midst. Thank you.

    1. I’ve read differing opinions about the effectiveness of crow poison as a means of crow control, but it seems that the flower gets its name from the practice of mixing its mashed-up bulbs with grain, and then putting it out for the birds to eat. According to reports (or legend), crows that eat the mixture will get sick or die, and other crows will head to other farms.

      The mistflower can be found in white, too. All of them make wonderful garden plants, as they’re pollinator magnets, and butterflies are especially fond of them. Here’s a wider view of the blue ones.

      As I like to say, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, I’m like the bear who went over the mountain; I go out to see what I can see. Sometimes, I see quite a lot.

  4. When I see all these gorgeous pics, I only see green: envy. That sure is a wonderful idea, to capture Nature in her probably the most appealing. Unfortunately for us here, transition is non-existent. We’re having -12C temp. And I’ve gone out shoveling snow 3 times now in these couple of days. But your post is one wishful respite.

    1. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that you’ve had snow. After all, it is nearly November, and even my aunt in Kansas City has snow in her forecast. That doesn’t make it any more pleasant, of course. I hope you get a bit of a respite before winter closes in for the duration.

      On the other hand, there’s yet another storm entering the Gulf: tropical storm Zeta. Hurricane season does go until November 1, so no one here’s really surprised, but we’re as tired of storm-watching as you’ll be of snow shoveling come March!

  5. You do such an amazing job photographing the beauty around you and narrating to your readers so we can enjoy the photos on a deeper level. These photos make me wish when I was in Texas one October that I’d have taken more time to enjoy the fields and flowers within..

    1. It’s such a rich and varied state; I’m sure you would have enjoyed seeing more of our natural wonders. On the other hand, none of us can see everything on a visit to a place. That’s one reason I like to return to special spots multiple times. Traveling farther is good, but traveling deeper has its rewards, too.

  6. You visit the most beautiful areas, Linda! In my little corner of North Texas, they’re too busy mowing down and digging up the fields of sunflowers to build yet more apartment buildings…

    1. Thanks, Jim. We are fortunate to have as many beautiful — and beautifully preserved — places as we do. There aren’t enough years left to me to explore them all, but I’m going to give it my best shot.

  7. Wow….just as our oranges and reds and yellows are dropping from the trees, leaving gray and brown naked branches, you come up with the most beautiful wildflowers – still in bloom! Thanks for sharing!

    1. We’ve moved into what we call our second spring. As temperatures moderate after the heat of summer, fall flowers begin to bloom, and even some spring flowers appear for a second time. Beyond that, it’s pure pleasure to be outdoors again. In August and September, people wilt as surely as the plants do!

    1. Sorry I couldn’t provide a bus for you, but it’s easy walking around this place, with occasional shade and a few places to sit along the trails. Unfortunately, the visitor center is closed because of you-know-what, but it’s still staffed, and the people there are as friendly and helpful as can be.

  8. Are you kidding me?…. all those wildflowers still blooming along the coast? I am impressed! Beautiful photography and narration. I’m already longing for spring. We were shut out of public places during this year’s bloom, so it’s great to see some FLOWERS! Thanks so much.

    1. Nope, not kidding — not even one little bit. Our fall blooms can be impressive, especially the fields of goldenrod, sunflowers, and camphorweed. My one regret is that I lost the chance to show so many of the beach flowers that were starting to bloom in our area. The storms literally wiped away my favorite dunes, so I’m going to have to roam a little farther afield to see what I can find.

      We do have some real treasures in this part of the state. I’m glad you enjoyed them. With luck, things will have opened up by next spring. Restrictions are easing around here, and people are beginning to relax a bit: still careful, but not so panic-stricken.

    1. Well, you know the old saying: so many flowers, so little time! Now that the days are getting so short, day trips to the farther-flung places are less convenient. Still, we persevere!

  9. Lucky you to have just a mild climate and fall still coming in your neck of the woods! Whether you believe it or not, we had snow last night. But the leaves are still on the trees and beginning to turn.

    1. I do believe your snow; a friend from Calgary mentioned that she’s shoveled three times already, and of course I’ve read about the hopes that the snow will help to ease the fire situation. I do fear that some places in our state where nice autumn color often is found will be less impressive this year. They’ve been in drought, and it may be that the leaves simply will turn brown and fall. We’ll see!

      1. A touch of frost will bring out the fantastic fall colours in our region. The snow is still on the ground this morning. But hopefully it will melt in the next couple of days.

  10. How delightful! I am enjoying the Ontario fall right now, with the colour in the trees and bushes. It is so much richer than where I grew up, where all of the trees would change colours at once, and after a hard wind would be bare. Fall lasted a week or so. I was so intrigued when we moved to Kitchener from Toronto (only 100 kms to the south), to find that fall came a week or two earlier. The ambient heat of the city made quite a difference. This s probably my favourite season.

    1. I laughed at your remark about fall lasting a week. There are various ways to describe the four seasons in Texas, but they all sound roughly like this: Pollen season, hurricane season, pollen season redux, and January.

      Like you, I love autumn, although spring is a close second. It’s the changes I enjoy — and the more moderate temperatures. Texans get cabin-feverish in late summer just as northerners do near the end of winter. I hope you have a nice, lingering autumn this year. Heaven knows we can use all the delights we can find.

  11. What a wonderful wildlife refuge to visit. So many wildflowers similar to our own in Australia. The Beautyberrries caught my eye as did the bracted fanpetals (which looks similar to a hibiscus).

    Great photos. Sharp focus and great lighting.

    1. Just as you noticed, the fanpetals are in the mallow family, along with the hibiscus. Their color reminds me of a good orange sherbet, and it’s fun to see all those hibiscus-like details in such a small flower. This one was just under an inch wide. The beautyberries are one of my favorites. On a back road in Arkansas once, I found a field of beautyberry and goldenrod combined. It was glorious. I’d love to have another crack at photographing it, or something like it. I think I could do a better job now.

  12. Happy white prickly poppy in October. I’ve likewise been seeing several things out of season in Austin this fall. The buckwheat in your close view provided a nice frame for the yellow-orange flower in the distance. Gulf muhly presumably got its name from growing on the coastal plains not too far from the Gulf of Mexico. It’s good to see some in the wild, as opposed to all the ones that have been planted, as you mentioned.

    1. I’d like to try photographing the muhly in earlier or later light. It was nearly noon when I found it, and the light was a little harsh. Still, it was quite a sight: not as dense as in landscape plantings, but clearly thriving. I really liked the buckwheat, too. While looking for more information on it, I grinned when I found this photo by Bill Carr. He travels in style. There have been times when I’ve wished for a vehicle like that.

    1. I knew the beetle and slug were visiting the palafox, but I didn’t see the thrip and the spider until I put the image up on the computer. I’m sure it’s a crab spider; they’ve been especially common recently. So have the green lynx spiders, for that matter. That makes me happy, since they’re one of my favorites.

    1. It’s a commonplace to talk about variety within Texas, but even spots like the Attwater preserve can be enormously varied. It’s going to be fun to return later in the fall to see which birds might have arrived for their winter sojourn.

  13. What a beautiful walk-in-October. Gorgeous array of plants, some I know, some not. Your photos are spectacular–I look forward to more of your visits and should probably plan one of my own–someday!

    1. The bushy goldentop, the buckwheat, and the camphorweed were new to me. I needed some help sorting out the swamp sunflower; I’d confused it with the Maximilian. It certainly was helpful to have both mistflower species there. My confusion lessened, at least a bit!

      When I looked at the iNaturalist plant list for the refuge, I resolved on the spot to keep an eye on the place in coming months: it will be awash in spring wildflowers.

  14. Wow, I cannot believe all the great stuff blooming in this place, all at the same time! Most of them, I’ve never seen, I like that Blue Mistflower a lot, and that wood sorrel. What an absolute wealth of flowers, and everything thriving. And here we’re headed below freezing at night already.

    1. Another one I would have liked to include was peppervine; a native that sports pretty leaves and a lot of berries that begin pink and become black. But the wind was pretty stiff, and I wasn’t happy with the photos, so I’ll try again later. The mistflowers are a great autumn flower. They attract lots of butterflies,hoverflies, and bees. When I find a big patch of them, I often can hear the buzzing from some distance away.

      All of these reports of snow and freezing temperatures seem so odd, mostly because we’re still warm and humid.Our time will come — but not just yet.

        1. No, I haven’t. When it comes to berries, my foraging’s limited to dewberries or blueberries. I’ll leave the rest for the birds or other critters, especially since some that they seem to adore are toxic for humans. I know that peppervine and beautyberry can be made into jellies — like prickly pear fruits and agarita — but if I want jelly I’ll stop by the store. I know how much work those homemade jellies entail!

  15. Linda, the beauty you’ve found still blooming nicely contrasts with the soon-to-be-brown landscape we’ll be seeing before long! Thanks for letting me tag along — and I’m delighted you joined Walktober this year. It’s great having new places to see and new eyes to see what we’re seeing! Yes, I think you’ve saved the very best picture for last — how stunning!

    1. The browning of the year — that’s not a bad phrase to describe it. Short days, long nights, and a significant lack of color sometimes make late autumn and winter seem unattractive to us, but even nature needs a rest now and then. ‘Walktober’ is a great way to appreciate what we have while we prepare for what will be, and like you, I always enjoy seeing how things are in other parts of the world. There’s a lot to enjoy.

  16. I so enjoyed looking over your shoulder during your walktober excursion, Linda. What lovely views and details. I had never heard of the aptly named beautyberries, made even more beautiful by the horizontal roof-like leaf. I finally found the filigree spider on the palafox and marveled at the pinkness of your “prettiest grass in the world.” Truly, there is beauty wherever one gazes.

    1. The beautyberries are a favorite. They’re large shrubs, and quite dramatic. Here’s another view of the way the flowers and then the berries arrange themselves around the leaf axils. Sometimes they develop horizontally, and sometimes vertically — and sometimes they just flop. Whatever they decide to do is fine in my book.

      I grew up thinking that grass was green: end of story. What a revelation the prairie grasses have been! The Gulf muhly is especially pretty, but the bluestems,Indian grass, switchgrass and all the others have their own good qualities.

      1. Simply lovely, no matter if they align horizontally or vertically.
        And I share your fondness for grasses. We are trying to encourage some native Colorado prairie grasses to make their home in our yard, but won’t know until springtime… Fingers crossed!

  17. This was such a gorgeous walk. Thank you so much for sharing all the beautiful sights with us. I was trying to pick a favorite image and I find it nearly impossible. It was also interesting to see the familiar (partridge pea flowers, swamp and tickseed sunflowers, and beautyberry). Thank you for joining in Walktober this year. I’m so glad you did.

    1. This was great fun, Robin. I always enjoy seeing the differences between places as well as the similarities, and October certainly is a month for differences in a country as large as ours. While friends in the north are getting snow, we’re back to summertime conditions; it seems the flowers here will be blooming for a while longer!

  18. As always, I marvel at your flora and fauna expertise, not to mention your gorgeous photos of both. I’ve never heard of Walktober, but I will add it to my vocabulary and my plans for next fall!

    1. I hadn’t heard of Walktober until this year. As it happened, I’d been roaming the Attwater preserve recently enough that it made a good subject for a post. I originally landed there because I was looking for a destination that was away from the coast, and the swarms of coastal mosquitoes that were making life unbearable. It worked out rather well!

  19. Wow, did you manage to find a lot of beauty on your walk! We’re having a lot of Fall colors here, but we’re also having much cooler temperatures. Personally, I’d rather put both off for a few more weeks!

    1. It’s a kind of double-edged sword, isn’t it? Without the cold temperatures and shorter days, we wouldn’t have our fall color, but the cold and dark linger much longer than the pretty leaves. What I remember from the midwest is the wonderful phenomenon known as Indian summer. After the first cold weather, things would warm up, and we’d have a stretch of perfect weather: usually in October. I hope that’s part of your autumn this year!

  20. What a glorious collection of wildflowers. I very much enjoyed doing this virtual walk with you and seeing unusual flowers (to me) in closeup.

    1. When I peeked at your most recent blog entry, I smiled to see you highlighting one genus I held out of this post: Gaillardia. The refuge was awash in G. aestivalis, rather than the more common G. pulchella. There’s a white variant of G. aestivalis that’s out of this world, so it’s time to do a compare-and-contrast post about those.

      Both blue mistflowers are beloved by gardeners here. Pollinators flock to them, and when large stands of the flowers develop, the fragrance is wonderful.

      Thanks so much for visiting today. I appreciate it.

  21. Your fascinating tour is perfect to take me out of walled in exile. Thank you for the exquisite photos and your delightful guidance through a Walktober outing.

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Dor. At this point, I’ve been exploring our refuges and natural areas long enough that I recognize many plants, but just as often it’s a matter of seeing something interesting or pretty, then coming home to figure out what I’ve seen. If I’m going to introduce you to some of my wildflower friends, I at least should know their names! I’m glad you enjoyed meeting these.

    1. I’m glad, Melissa. You certainly would have enjoyed being there in real time. By the way, I found the plant I mentioned to you when I was looking at your painting: the one that had leaves that turned orange-sherbet color as they faded. It was a species of Croton. It wasn’t the one we have here at the coast, and I’m not sure exactly which one it was, but it was exceptionally pretty.

      1. I had a Croton houseplant that I cherished until it began touching the ceiling and casting an eye on the rest of the room. They are really nice looking plants. It is cool that you have them growing in the wild down there.

        1. I wonder if your Croton was the houseplant that’s in a different genus. Our coastal croton is Croton punctatus, which is quite different from the houseplant croton, or Codiaeum variegatum. They’re selling that one at my grocery store just now.

            1. I’m still glad you mentioned it. I’d forgotten about the pretty houseplant, and it might just be something for me to pick up. I never had houseplants while Dixie Rose was alive, because she loved eating everything in sight, but that’s not a problem any longer.

            2. What a beautiful cat although if she was anything like my prickly little Westie, she stopped being a cat and became the being who shared your heart. I’m sorry you had to let her go.
              We are currently watching over the remaining of our two huskies. 13 is as old as they get, generally. He is doing all those things~circling restlessly, murmuring discontentedly (how well you put that). He’s losing his sight and has arthritis and I think he had a small stroke this week. How hard it is to see this happening and be powerless to stop it.

  22. That was just what I needed. A wildflower treasure trove to wander through while having my lunch in the office on a Monday!

    I feel sorry for those unseeing people who gaze out over a place like this and think, “There’s nothing out there but weeds.” I’d be willing to bet that none of them ever spent hours on their stomachs when they were children and stared in wonder at the the minute beauty of what was growing and living in their backyards.

    1. I suspect you’re right. Those are the people who drive lickety-split across Kansas or Iowa, moaning about how boring it all is, or who walk through a nature center staring at their ‘devices.’ To each their own, as they saying goes, but I really don’t understand them, and I suspect you don’t either.

      No matter! As the old song has it, we’ve got the sun in the morning and the moon at night — and a lot of gorgeous flowers to surround them. I’m glad you enjoyed seeing these.

  23. Oh my goodness, this was an utter delight, Linda. Thanks so much for this in-depth study of the flowers and grounds of Attwater. In Calif. we still have quite a few flowers and berries, but they are starting to show autumnal colors, much like you have presented here. I am impressed with your identification of the numerous wildflower species, and appreciate it, as it helps me to learn. I have a warm place in my heart for Attwater, having visited there in May of 2014 prior to a family reunion in Houston. We were hoping to see prairie chickens, but it was too late, they told us to come back in March, but acknowledged even then there are few. We know better than to expect any one bird species, so we were easily enchanted by the multitudes of spring prairie birds we were seeing. Singing, breeding prairie birds like the dickcissel and bobolink, birds that you don’t see anywhere but on prairies. I saw the only bobolink I have ever seen at Attwater. Thanks for this autumn Walktober through gorgeous Attwater.

    1. Jet, I remembered our brief exchange about your visit to Attwater, and I was hoping you would see this post. I knew that you’d enjoy seeing the grasses and forbs; I only wish there had been more birds to show you. Now I know to look for dickcissel and bobolink next spring — or perhaps even in late winter. I’m especially eager to return in January and February, when the absence of foliage will make the birds more visible.

      You’re right that there’s no certainly about what will be seen on a refuge or prairie on any given day, but there’s always something to delight the eye — or, in the case of birdsong, the ear!

  24. I’ve never seen a tickseed sunflower. We have tickseed around here, but the one you photographed is much prettier than ours. All of your prairie photos are lovely, of course. Such an inviting place to visit. Thanks for taking us along on your walk.

    1. I’ll bet your tickseed is Coreopsis. They’re pretty, too, and they’re a great garden flower. I think they might come in various colors, or color combinations, but I know they’re often that same cheerful yellow. I thought Walktober was a great idea; it’s fun to see different neighborhoods from around the country.

    1. It seems that winter’s crept into Texas, too — but in areas closer to you. The Panhandle especially is cold — but that’s nothing new. Even if you don’t get many more flowers this year — or any, for that matter — I hope you do get a respite from the snow. On the other hand, people trying to cope with fires have to be happy about the snow; I hope it helps them out.

    1. I’m such a fan of cows, and the variety that was wandering near the windmill and tank was especially pleasing. I still have a photo or two of special flowers to share, but it seemed to me they deserved a little extra attention!

  25. What lovely collection of blooms on your Walktober you showcase in your photos. Where was the white calf photo you mentioned?

    1. It’s always an amazement to this former midwesterner to see how many flowers keep blooming, even in the depths of our ‘winter.’ The calf was on my photo blog. There’s a link tucked into the text, but perhaps the color didn’t appear on whichever device you’re using. Here she is.

  26. What a fine Walktober post, Linda! I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the rich diversity of wildflowers Texas is famous for (thanks to LadyBird J.). Much different from my area, it seems you have a greater variety, and certainly a longer season to enjoy them!

    1. I know we have more than 5,000 species of native plants, thanks in part to our state’s diversity. The mountains, the pine forests, the beaches, and the prairies all have something to offer. I’m glad you enjoyed this selection; it pleased me to find a few flowers that were new to me, and the white prickly poppy — one of my very favorites — was a bonus.

  27. My aunt gave us a beauty berry bush – I can’t wait to see what it does next spring/summer. It doesn’t look like much right now.
    LOVE the beetle, spider, thrip, and slug photo! I had to google the thrip before I could find it.
    I love everything about this post! It was balm to my soul. Thank you!

    1. I suppose you’ve seen photos of beautyberry flowers, but if you haven’t, here they are. The birds love the berries, so having one will be a double treat. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos, and I’m glad I got to Attwater when I did. We’re finally getting some rainy, cool weather, and some of the flowers will begin fading.

    1. It is instructive to see how much sharing goes on in nature. We hear a lot about competition for scarce resources, but it only takes a few glimpses of a dozen skippers on the same thistle, or a variety of insects on a single bloom to see there’s more to the story.

  28. Your photos are beautiful and have captured the vibrancy of the season where you are! I have never seen beauty berries but I love their color. Thanks for the walk. Enjoyed it.

    1. The birds love the beautyberries, too. Once they ripen, they can disappear pretty quickly; finding un-nibbled branches can be a challenge. I’m glad you enjoyed the little walk. I’m anxious to return as the season progresses, to see how things change.

    1. We do have remarkable variety across the country, and it’s a pleasure to see others’ worlds through photos. I’m so happy you enjoyed this glimpse of my world.

  29. I have been so busy here lately, and I am very glad I waited until I had plenty of early morning time with my coffee, to enjoy your photography and experience your walk through the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge. I wonder, because of the name, if perhaps prairie chickens once inhabited the area, or have maybe been reintroduced to the area? We have a program to reintroduce the prairie chicken to the northwestern region of Oklahoma, and I’ve read that Kansas also has seen a remarkable increase in numbers. Regardless, you’ve shown us the vast beauty to be seen in your neck of the woods (prairie).

    1. The primary purpose at Attwater is the nurturing of the prairie chicken. There are other places around the state where the chicks are raised, but when it’s time for release, Attwater becomes their home. The prairie is managed in such a way that it provides a natural habitat for the birds. During the spring, when the ‘booming grounds’ are filled with prairie chickens with mating on their minds, it’s possible to visit and see them, but access for humans is limited, and sightings may or may not happen. The prairie chickens’ needs come first.

      One of the most interesting details I cam across concerns the presence of cattle. I knew about grazing as a prairie management tool, but I didn’t know that there’s a special reason to have the cattle at Attwater. As the cows graze and pull up grasses, they create cleared areas that the chicks can use as “highways” to move around the prairie.

      I didn’t realize that Oklahoma and Kansas are nurturing the birds, too — that’s wonderful. I learned something else this week after another Oklahoman commented on my recent Gaillardia post: the Gaillardia, or Indian blanket, or firewheel, is the state flower of Oklahoma! Good choice.

  30. Oh my goodness, you have some beautiful things still blooming down there. I want to visit!! Loved so many, but my favorite was the beeblossom…until I got to that white poppy, sooooo beautiful! Your photography is wonderful. Thank you for taking us along!

    1. Dawn, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. That white poppy is one of my favorite flowers. I searched for it for a couple of years, but once I found some, I began to see them everywhere. I suppose there’s a lesson of some sort there — familiarity doesn’t necessarily breed contempt. Sometimes it breeds recognition!
      I was lucky to pick a good day to visit. I went back last weekend, and things had changed substantially. Once autumn decides to arrive, there’s no turning it back.

  31. WOW – There is enough feasting for the eyes and soul here, to last through an hour of perusal. I will have to come back. That was quite an expedition you enjoyed. The palafox flower is the place to be, for those littlest critters. But the White-tipped Black — simply elegant on the blade of grass.

    1. That’s the first white-tipped black I’d ever seen. The markings made it easy to identify, but I had to laugh at the number of sites that described it as ‘common’ or ‘quite common’ in my area. I don’t know where it’s been hiding, but I’m glad I finally saw one. Black and white is elegant: it’s the insect world’s equivalent of the little black dress with pearls.

  32. Wow. You certainly did your version of Walktober to the max. As we approach Autumn’s end here, it is wonderful to see such a great variety of wildflowers still blooming in Texas.
    Those bunches of Beautyberries are beauteous. And I liked your framing with the beeblossom peephole.

    1. See? You’re not the only one who can fall behind in responding to comments. I’m not sure I’ve ever gone three years, but I know I’ve missed a few for a year or so. It happens.

      Beautyberries are glorious, for sure. I found an entire field filled with a 50/50 combination of beautyberries and goldenrod in Arkansas one year, and it was quite a sight. I wasn’t able to capture the vision with my camera, but I certainly remember it.

      When I went back to this spot after a couple of weeks, the changes were remarkable. I’m glad I got there when I did, because autumn was having its way.

      1. Ha! Just two days. I can do that in my sleep. LOL I am sure there more, possibly even older. For the most part I discover them when linking an old post in response to a comment on someone else’s post.
        We wait all year for certain happenings, whether spring ephemerals or fall foliage, and then it’s gone in what seems an instant. I guess that makes the times more special and we might get bored with prolonged experiences but I’d like to take that chance.

    1. Despite the differences in our worlds, there’s beauty to be found in both. I’m glad you enjoyed this walk; I’m looking forward to exploring the beauty of your flute music, which was entirely new to me.

  33. Thank you for the wonderful walking tour of this beautiful place. Exploring nature’s details on foot is high on my list of pleasures, so your photos and commentary were a great treat. So many lovely flowers I’d never seen, and rich colors like the purple tones of the wood sorrel and beautyberries and that rose and green grass.

    1. Out of curiosity, I went looking to see what was available in terms of southern California gardens, and my gracious: you have quite a selection of wonderful spots for on-foot enjoyment, as well as the coast, the desert, and such. I suspect your restrictions are tighter than ours at this point, but limited numbers and timed entries have made most of our best sites available. Still, I prefer the just-slightly wilder refuges and out-of-the-way spots, and I’m lucky that this one is doable as a day trip.

  34. You, my friend, were clearly in your element! These are all real gems, just gorgeous in every way. I especially loved those purple berries near the top but so many gorgeous blooms and butterflies.Or was it a moth? And those wonderful yellow ones blowing about, the white poppy. Your eye and camera are so good, the detail is outstanding. And of course you are in a weather spot wher eyou are seeing things that either I’ll never see — or their floral cousins I’ll not meet up with for another six months or more. What a lovely visit!

    1. The little black and white critter is a moth: quite small, but very elegant: like a little black dress with pearls. The beauty berry is a beauty, and the birds think the berries are quite tasty. I’m so glad I made the decision to visit when I did. I went back again after a couple of weeks, and autumn was making its presence known in a big way; many of the flowers had faded, and the grasses weren’t quite so elegant. Still, I’m looking forward to seeing it a little later in the year. I suspect there will be winter birds to make up for the lack of pretty flowers, and besides — the birds are easier to spot when the trees begin losing leaves.

  35. That is a “Walktober” to remember!

    You highlighted what caught me by surprise during our first visit, also in the fall. I was not prepared for the diversity of the flora! We found several species which were new to us and some which were familiar “cousins” to those found in Florida.

    We can’t wait to return!

    1. It’s a beautiful spot. Now that the heat and the mosquitoes both have declined, I’m eager for another visit. When I was at the refuges last weekend, I saw precisely one mosquito. It was heaven.

    1. I’ve not been back to this place since making this walk, primarily because of the short winter days and bad weather; it’s a five-hour round trip at minimum, and that doesn’t leave much time for prairie walking. Now, with the longer days, it’s more doable, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s happening there. I’ve also stocked up on mosquito repellent!

    1. That was a beautiful day. Needless to say, I’m glad you enjoyed this one, and I’m eager for a return trip. Just now, it’s a bit early for the spring flowers, but only a bit.

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