Downtown cellphone naturalist Christine Wilson sends some shots this morning of unauthorized tree remodeling on the banks of Buffalo Bayou east of Travis St. by Spaghetti Warehouse (across from the University of Houston Downtown building shown up top). Wilson says a chat with some Buffalo Bayou Park rangers confirmed the identity of the anonymous tree hackers as likely beavers. That aligns with a report from earlier this month from the folks at Save Buffalo Bayou of other activity in the same area by rodents of unusual size. More closeup shots of denuded trees below:
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COULD COYOTES BE KILLING THE KITTIES OF TIMBERGROVE AND LAZYBROOK? Over the past six years Jennifer Estopinal has recorded the violent demises of about two dozen house cats in Timbergrove and Lazybrook. Their manners of death have typically been grisly — some were beheaded, others bisected, in some cases paws were removed — and on some occasion the cadavers have appeared to have been left on display. It’s all been enough to raise suspicions that a sicko serial kitty killer was at work. There is now a hefty bounty on the alleged predator’s head: four different donors have cobbled together a kitty of almost $25,000 in reward money. But might the killings simply be nature taking its course? Last month a coyote was sighted brazenly attempting to enter the lobby of the Bayou Bend Towers at Memorial and Westcott. More recently, Estopinal and husband Mark saw another of the canine carnivores while out patrolling Timbergrove in search of the culprit. At the corner of Ella and Grovewood (not far from forested W. 11th St. Park), the Estopinals saw and pursued a coyote, watching as it attempted to raid a pet-food bowl on a front porch, then chase a cat, then scale a 6-foot privacy fence “with ease.” Mystery solved? Possibly, if only partially, Estopinal believes. “I’d like to believe a coyote is what’s been killing so many cats lately,” she posted in a neighborhood group message board. “I think its possible a few could have been but not all, as there are too many things that have been done that would’ve been impossible for a coyote.” [Houston News; CultureMap] Photo: Mark Estopinal
WHAT’S BEST FOR BUFFALO BAYOU? Let it flow, or let it be? Environmentalists and the Harris County Flood Control District disagree — at least when it comes to the 1.5-mile stretch that contributes to the “jungly ecosystem” of the Hogg Bird Sanctuary in Memorial Park, reports the Houston Chronicle’s Lisa Gray. A “restoration” plan proposed by the flood controllers, explains Gray, “would change the bayou’s course in places, fill in an oxbow here, reinforce banks there, widen the bayou’s channel, raising and lowering landmasses and generally move an enormous amount of dirt. [They argue] that the proposed measures are desperately needed to reduce erosion and improve water quality.” They’d do it here as they did it at Meyer Park along Spring Creek, reports Gray. But the environmentalists don’t seem to consider that to have been a “restoration” project, really: “‘Look at that!” [Memorial Park Conservancy board member Katy Emde] told me, outraged, showing me a picture of Meyer Park on her phone. ‘There’s no diversity! It’s not natural! It’s not habitat! It’s horrifying.'” [Houston Chronicle ($); previously on Swamplot] Photo of Hogg Bird Sanctuary: Bayou Shuttle
COMMENT OF THE DAY: IT’S RAINING AT SOUTH 75TH AND TIPPS “We’ve got Black Bellied Whistling Ducks nesting in trees on the East End near Mason Park. Parking cars in garages and broad-billed hats seem to be making comebacks around here.” [Dana-X, commenting on Comment of the Day: Disturbance at the Heron House]
COMMENT OF THE DAY: DISTURBANCE AT THE HERON HOUSE “We have six pairs nesting in an oak in our yard — they are beautiful birds, but foul creatures. For the next few months, our yard will be littered with crawfish shells and carcasses of frogs and fish. It’s living at the flamingo exhibit at the zoo. And then, when they are too prolific, they’ll start pushing the ‘surplus’ young out of the nests high in the trees and leave them to die in the street below. Again, they are beautiful to look at but difficult to live with.” [Txcon, commenting on Headlines: Marfreless’s Last Call; Salata’s National Expansion]
COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOUSTON’S ROOM TO SPREAD OUT “. . . We by far are not paving our wilderness in concrete. The Katy Prairie represents and extremely small portion of area getting developed. The land you see in the Katy Prairie exists throughout south central Louisiana were it’ll likely never be developed. The Texas Coastal plains is quite undeveloped also. All this crying over really nothing. Wildlife is quite more adaptable than we give them credit for and they’ll move easily where they have to. I’m more and more convinced that people that live in Houston that go after developers for building the outer suburbs don’t realized how much is not developed when they leave the city. I guess they fly everywhere versus drive. The drive from Houston to Dallas alone should demonstrate how uninhabited this state is. Better yet, drive US 59 in either direction from Houston.” [kjb434, commenting on Investing in the Grand Parkway]
A few fun — and not-so-fun — sights around town: First, Houston visitor Mike Smith’s photo shows some of the few letters left after Ike’s attack.
More hurricane photo souvenirs below!
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MONTROSE WILDLIFE Poet Mark Doty, while explaining Houston to the Travel set: “Here the city’s splendid tradition of patronage is on its best display, so the great old live oaks thrust their bowing branches out beside the Cy Twombly Gallery and the Rothko Chapel. The limbs dip perilously toward the ground, and the roots heave the sidewalks beneath them into little concrete alps, but since nobody walks anywhere it doesn’t make much difference. In summer the trees resound with cicadas, like electronic versions of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir chorusing an insanely repetitive song. Gangs of bronzy black birds—boat-tailed grackles—prefer smaller trees in busier areas; they like grocery store parking lots and the drive-through lanes at the Taco Cabana, and they shriek and holler long into the night, as if in avian parallel to the traffic below. They’re the loudest part of a plethora of urban wildlife: opossums, raccoons, the occasional snake slithering across the road, a sadly large population of stray dogs. Coyotes roam the cemetery north of Buffalo Bayou, where Howard Hughes is buried. All over town, tiny green lizards hold their heads up with notable alertness.” [Smithsonian, via HAIF]
Some residents of Glen Cove St. have been encroaching on the Hogg Bird Sanctuary with their lawnmowers and destroying the birds’ habitat, complains an area resident. The sanctuary is nominally a part of Memorial Park, but is adjacent to Bayou Bend, the former Ima Hogg estate.
Abc13’s Miya Shay comments:
there are about a dozen homes whose own lawn shares a border line with the sanctuary. One of the women who actually lives there is complaining her some of her neighbors are mowing the grass, and putting up a hammock in what is technically city property. Instead of respecting land deeded by the Hogg Foundation, the neighbors are using the land as their own property.. for free.. forget the birds. As you can imagine, some folks are not so happy about it.. and demanding that the Parks department do a little more than just send angry letters and putting up “do not mow” signs….
Shay reports that City Council wants to get to the bottom of it . . . and maybe store some construction equipment in the sanctuary too!