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Explore, Enjoy and Protect

Houston Regional Group - News
Roll On Mighty Trinity, Roll On
Brandt Mannchen

Going someplace new is always exciting for me. I call such trips adventures. On May 14th I had an adventure with the Houston Sierra Club. I led a trip to a unit of the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge (TRNWR) that I had never visited. The name of the unit is, Boar’s Den, which makes you feel a little uneasy and provides some mystery, that’s for sure. It is found on the northeast side of the State Highway 105 bridge at the Trinity River.

The TRNWR was established in 1995 and has grown to include about 20,000 acres of important river bottoms in the Trinity River Floodplain. Many migrant and resident birds, as we found out on this trip, and other animals live here among the tall, hardwood trees, of the deep, dark, river corridor.

We arrived about 9:15 am and got ready. I told everyone (there were eight great people – Alma, David, Michael, Tom, Kim, Petra, Pat, and myself) that we were a team and that meant looking out for ourselves and each other and also sharing any knowledge or asking any questions about what we saw.

Our first visit was to a lake that was about one and one-quarter miles away. We walked to the lake on a dirt road and power-line right-of-way. Even though we were in the TRNWR the road is shared by private landowners who live nearby. We waved as several of these friendly folks drove by and they waved back.

While we walked the road we enjoyed the shade of many bottomland tree species including American Elm, Cedar Elm Hackberry, American Sycamore, Cherrybark Oak, Water Oak, Bald Cypress, Water Tupelo, Green Ash, and maybe Nuttall Oak. Switchcane and Muscadine Grape grew in many places and cypress sloughs (dry) were scattered beyond the roadside.

Several of us looked for birds and found many surprises. Thanks to Michael, who knows his bird calls well, we identified Bluebird, Great Crested Flycatcher, Black Vulture, Snowy Egret, Cliff Swallow, Prothonotory Warbler, Mississippi Kite, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Killdeer, Whistling Duck, cormorant, White Ibis, Red-eyed Vireo, Painted Bunting, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, American Crow, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, White-eyed Vireo, and the piece-de- resistance, a Bald Eagle. How cool is that?

The lake was drying up at the edges leaving some American Water Lotus in moist soil. The treat was the water lotus was blooming and had a two inch wide yellow blossom that stood about two and one-half to three feet tall. Talk about your long, tall, Sally! Lord that was gorgeous. In addition, it was evident Raccoons and other critters had been having a feast which was revealed by all the large mussel shells that we found scattered about among the water lotus.

We later walked along the fence-line for several miles through the floodplain forest and then followed a creek and turned around at a power-line right-of-way. Frogs, Anoles, and Ground Skinks could be seen near water, scurrying on the forest floor, or hanging on low-lying vegetation. An Armadillo escaped from our intrepid hiking group by disappearing into a culvert.

Finally, we took a look at the Trinity River, which seemed as full as it usually is despite the drought. The River was mighty and showed that it too was alive when we saw and heard fish jump. Down past the bridge we saw people on the sandy banks of the River enjoying its cool repast.

The adventure was a success! Not only did we get to visit with many of Nature’s occupants but we saw the Trinity River. That is worth even more than the ice cream we got on our way home. Roll On, Mighty Trinity, Roll On.

June 2011

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Last updated:  07/24/2011.   Content 1999-2011 by the Sierra Club.