Saturday, October 22, 2005

Today's walk in Mary Moore Searight Park

This is a municipal park of about 350 acres at the south edge of Austin. It's rapidly being surrounded by cityedge development. About a third of the park, I'd guess, is devoted to a frisbee golf course, where I venture to go birdwatching only in inclement weather or very early in the morning, when frisbees are unlikely to flying. Frisbee golfers seem a bit territorial--I think they feel perhaps resentful of birdwatcher intrusions onto their, um, what do you call it, anyway? frisbee links? Anyway, I try not to disturb their sport. There is lots of room in the remainder of the park for the rest of us.

Today was a good day for a walk. In October we have a last burst of wildflowers in Austin, mostly compositae, nothing to write home about, but something to enjoy. This is a Maximilian Sunflower.

They usually have multiple flowers close to the stem. The plants are 3 or 4 feet high. The roots are edible, though I have never dug one up to see how they taste--according to what I have read, they taste like the tubers of their close relative, the Jerusalem artichoke.

Live oaks and junipers, both common in the park, tend to get kind of gnarled and twisted as they age. So I started taking pictures today of gnarly stuff.

Here's a juniper trunk

Here's a live oak, half the tree dead, the other half alive

Here is some ball moss (Tillandsia recurvata) on a live oak limb. It's a bromeliad.

Here is a close-up view. (You can click on any of these images for a little more detail.)

And finally, a yet closer-up view. Here you can see some green. The plant appears silvery gray from a distance.

I finished my walk by crossing a small concrete dam across an arroyo, used to trap water for livestock when the Searight family was ranching here. This puts me behind the picnic ground and nearly back at my car. So here's a final photo of a father and daughter enjoying the benches in the shade of a juniper tree, as I left.

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