The ongoing saga of the Allen’s Landing trees coming down recently in bits and pieces — apparently the handiwork of an elusive Buffalo Bayou beaver or 2 — has come to a likely end with the non-rodent-assisted removal of the final stumps, Swamplot’s semi-regular Franklin St. correspondent and wildlife tipster notes. But life around the White Oak-Buffalo confluence goes on! Spring is here, which means the ducks have been out and about, while the cranes are busy pulling fledgling parking garage superstructures up into the air:
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:
Urban wildlife cellphone videographer Christine Wilson sends some footage captured from Allen’s Landing documenting the eons-old nature vs. civilization struggle, which played out earlier this week in the form of tiny ducks dodging their way through the floating trash field where White Oak and Buffalo bayous join up. Wilson caught sight (and sound) of a duck and 4 ducklings struggling across the White Oak outflow toward the Buffalo side of the confluence, which she notes is significantly less debris-spangled. That’s the Harris County Jail in the background for most of the shot, across White Oak from the main building of the University of Houston Downtown. (The footage cuts out mid-scene, but Wilson says the ducks did eventually make it across.)
This month the Galveston Bay Foundation and Houston Advanced Research Center released their second annual report card on the health of Galveston Bay, boiling down a wide range of measurements into a series of letter grades. The report card, which looks at the bay itself along with the bayous that drain into it, aims to be easy to understand for folks with or without scientific training. Each of the 6 main categories of grade — including subjects like wildlife population trends,pollution sources, and human health hazards — is broken down with explanations of what specific measurements that rating is based on (and more details in the full report, for those who want them).
The agencies have also put together a Find Your Watershed tool, which lets you check in on how your own part of town is affecting the bay’s GPA. (That’s Buffalo Bayou watershed’s report shown above; the bayou did exceptionally well in dissolved oxygen and nitrogen content this term, but failed wetlands.) You can look up any address and see how the surrounding runoff area measures up in some of the report’s subject categories. (Note that the search tool’s map doesn’t use the same color-by-grade scheme that the rest of the report employs — you’ll have to click on each watershed to see the actual marks).
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]
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!