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Houston Regional Group - News
Little Creek – For the Birds, Beech, and Earth
Brandt Mannchen

April and it feels already like summer! That is what I thought waiting in the parking lot for folks to arrive for the Sierra Club Forest Walk to Little Creek in Sam Houston National Forest. Donna, David, Robert, and Michael all soon made their appearances and we were ready to push-off from Starbucks in Meyerland!

Off we went and before long our two car caravan arrived at Big Creek Scenic Area and parked near a gated Forest Service road. As soon as we got out and readied our packs we started hiking down to Little Creek. The breeze was welcome as were the partly cloudy blue skies.

We identified a number of East Texas trees along the road and Michael began his remarkable identification of birds, usually by song. He provided us with a lengthy list including Red-eyed Vireo, White-eyed Vireo, Downy Woodpecker, American Crow, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Plieated Woodpecker, Pine Warbler, Northern Cardinal, Tufted Titmouse, Summer Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Carolina Chickadee, Carolina Wren, Orchard Oriole, and unidentified thrushes. Truly a cornucopia of migrant and local birds! What wonderful ear candy!!!

We weaved in and out along Little Creek, its floodplain, slopes, and overlooks. These mini-vistas brought out the beauty of this tea-colored, clear, and cool stream, often lined with ferns and brought relief to these weary eyes. I was particularly impressed about the number of large American Beech trees that we saw along with other canopy occupiers like Southern Magnolia, Sweetgum, Water Oak, Laurel Oak, White Oak, Swamp Chestnut Oak, and Loblolly Pine. The damselflies were out in full force, hovering, darting, and flying over the clear waters of Little Creek. There were many seepage areas with tiny flowing, on the surface and under the surface, streams with Cinnamon, Royal, Netted Chain, and Lady Ferns. Christmas and Bracken Ferns also were present scattered across the hilly and swalely landscape of the floodplain.

Finally, there were shrubs, the medicinal Witch Hazel, huckleberry, American Beautyberry, and Sebastian Bush peaking out where giant trees had crashed to the forest floor, seeking the diffuse sunlight now made bright by the hole in the canopy. And all this when John Muir’s birthday and Earth Day had just past us by! I think John and Gaylord Nelson would understand why we were celebrating in the woods instead of the city. Hat’s off to you Mother.

June 2011

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