This is Henbit and as you can see it is winter hardy! You are likely familiar with this member of the mint family as an unwanted invader in your yard. The closest area that Kirby has to a "yard" is the grassy hill in the Nature Play area. The green clumps you see in the third image are all Henbit in glorious winter bloom. Even though it is technically an invader its flowers do provide a winter and early spring food source for pollinators. Finally, as they say, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" as to whether or not you welcome seeing the purple blooms in your yard in January. I actually enjoy the winter color! #DoctorBot #LakeKirby




The Destination Imagination team at Wylie Intermediate School is hosting a walk-a-thon

The Destination Imagination team at Wylie Intermediate School is hosting a walk-a-thon this Saturday to benefit Lake Kirby Nature Park. Please watch the video to learn more and plan to come out Saturday morning to join us. I will be there with some do-nuts provided by Ryan Wilson and Shipley Do-Nuts! Here's the details:

Destination Imagination Walk-a-Thon
Location: Wylie West Intermediate (NOT at Kirby!)
3158 Beltway South
Saturday, February 1st
Registration at 9:30 am
$15- Adults
$10- Kids
Kids 5 and under are free
Link to the KTAB story: http://ow.ly/o20n50y9I1l


Kirby wildflowers in bloom

Kirby wildflowers in bloom providing some welcome winter color! I found just a few Pin-Clover plants in bloom yesterday near the Nature Play area before the morning drop in temperatures. This species is interesting in that the flowers, which are just under the size of a dime in diameter, bloom early in the day and then will drop their petals by late afternoon. You can see the fallen petals in the third image. Pin-Clover is a member of the Geranium family and is native to Europe. #DoctorBot #LakeKirby




It's going to be a warm and beautiful day at Lake Kirby Nature Park!

It's going to be a warm and beautiful day at Lake Kirby Nature Park! You can enjoy a stroll on the boardwalk to the sounds of birds and maybe even some insects. Or, bring your children or grandchildren out to the nature play area to get a healthy dose of vitamin N! Of course, that's "N" for "Nature"! #DoctorBot #LakeKirby



Upcoming event for Lake Kirby Nature Park!

Here's a heads up for an upcoming event that will benefit Lake Kirby Nature Park! The Seven Leaf Clover Destination Imagination Team at Wylie Intermediate School is sponsoring a Walk-a-thon on February 1st to raise money to help purchase trees. Please come and support these middle schoolers and your favorite park! #DoctorBot #LakeKirby


Nature discovery workshop last weekend

DoctorBot leading a nature discovery workshop last weekend for Abilene area daycare instructors. The workshop was sponsored by Workforce Solutions of Abilene. The goal of the workshop was to help these caregivers learn how to use the resources at Kirby to connect their children to the natural world around them. I admire and am thankful for the commitment of Workforce Solutions to help instill this appreciation for nature in our area children. It's a wonderful gift to give! #DoctorBot #LakeKirby




Frosted baby bluebonnet leaves

Frosted baby bluebonnet leaves on a chilly Kirby morning! An individual bluebonnet leaf is called a rosette and is composed of 5 leaflets that are arranged in a star shape. Each leaf is only about the size or diameter of a nickel at this point in the growing season. The leaflets are covered with lots of hairs now but will lose them by the time they mature in late March. One purpose of the hairs is likely shown in the photos: to keep ice crystals from direct contact with the leaf surface. #DoctorBot #LakeKirby



Hackberry bud galls on a hackberry branch along the boardwalk

Hackberry bud galls on a hackberry branch along the boardwalk. Earlier, I told you that the nymphs of a small winged insect called a Psyllid live inside over the winter. I did carefully dissect one of the galls to see the nymph but they are hard to photograph. Think of the gall as a winter home for the nymph with everything that it needs to survive the winter and develop into an adult. For food the immature insect just feeds on the the inside of the gall. It's like a bedroom and hackberry fast food all in one! My thanks to Jerry Butler for the photo of the adult. #DoctorBot #LakeKirby



Insect gall from a few days ago

You may remember this image of an insect gall from a few days ago. These small, English pea-sized galls are numerous on some of the younger branches of Kirby's hackberry trees. It's easy to spot them as you walk along the Boardwalk. In my earlier post, I promised to reveal what lives inside. These galls are specifically called Hackberry bud galls and the inhabitants are called Psyllids. These small, winged insects spend their fall and winter as immature nymphs living inside the gall. It's a pretty cozy setup for the juvenile insect. Details in part 3! #DoctorBot #LakeKirby


How do you spend the winter?

How do you spend the winter? I've asked this question before. Well, if you are a juvenile insect you might spend the winter all cozy and warm inside this fuzzy-looking "house" pictured here. These "houses" sort of look like fuzzy winter leaf buds on this hackberry tree along the Kirby boardwalk. Each house is about the size of a pencil head eraser. Stay tuned for part 2 and I'll let you know what lives inside! #DoctorBot #LakeKirby




Yesterday was a warm, wonderful day to be out at Lake Kirby! I was exploring on the boardwalk when I came across this cocoon, suspended by two long silk threads across several branches in a hackberry tree. This is a winter cocoon of the Basilica Orbweaver spider and the individual "beads" are egg sacs. This is how many spider species survive the winter. The adult female lays the egg sacs and wraps them up in silk to build a cocoon that can survive the winter weather. The ultimate sacrifice for a parent! Stay tuned for more posts about about how this species is adapted to survive until spring. But dangers lurk just around the corner! #DoctorBot #Lakeirby



A note of thanks!

A note of thanks! We now have 1395 followers on the Lake Kirby Nature Park Page!! We at the West Texas Science Center and Friends of Kirby Lake thank you for all of your interest and support. And all of your fellow creatures at Kirby thank you too! Here's a collage of some of your favorite "likes" from this past year in celebration. Enjoy! #DoctorBot #LakeKirby


Kirby Snow Day!

Kirby Snow Day! Here are two more pics from yesterday's morning snowfall. The tracks are from one of our resident feral cats. Second image shows juniper boughs or branches full of snow. #DoctorBot #LakeKirby



Baby Bluebonnets at Lake Kirby!

Baby Bluebonnets at Lake Kirby! I am so happy that the Spring 2020 generation has arrived! The first two images show recently germinated leaves (probably no more than a week old!). Bluebonnet leaves are arranged in a rosette of 5 leaflets connected to each other at their base. These baby rosettes are just under the size of a dime across in diameter. Can you see the condensed water droplets in the second image? The third image shows last spring's mature plants in full bloom. Enjoy and please share with your friends! #DoctorBot #LakeKirby




Thank you Master Naturalists!

Thank you Master Naturalists! West Texas Science Center would like to thank the Big Country Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists for donating $300 to help fund the ongoing projects at Lake Kirby. It is very gratifying when area organizations and individuals recognize and contribute to the work that many are doing to improve Lake Kirby! #DoctorBot #LakeKirby


Leafless Western Soapberry

First image is a winter view of a leafless Western Soapberry tree along the Kirby Boardwalk, with its remaining summer fruits at the tips of the uppermost branches. The second image takes you back to a fall photo of a grove of Soapberry trees along the Kirby Dam Road, showing off their soft, yellow fall color. #DoctorBot #LakeKirby



Cedar tree on the Kirby North Trail

Cedar tree on the Kirby North Trail. This species is actually a redberry juniper (Juniperus pinchotii), but is commonly referred to as cedar. The tree pictured here is a male and the clusters of yellow color on the branch tips are male pollen cones, which release their pollen into the wind. If you suffer (like I do!) from seasonal allergies in the winter, this is your culprit! #DoctorBot #LakeKirby


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