Things to see and do at this stop:
Life in the sanctuary centers around water; it clusters around the creek, concentrates at the pond. Water-loving plants crowd pond edges and extend into the shallows: rushes, sedges, Pickerel Weed, Alligator Weed, and Lizard’s Tail provide shelter for a variety of animals. The pond is a magnet for wildlife – and for kids. As you approach the pond from the northeast you see the boardwalk crossing ahead and a smaller wooden path to your left that ends at a low “dipping deck” that allows children to lie nose to nose with tadpoles and fish or to capture them with small dip nets. The boardwalk also has a widened area for the same purpose. And at the far end of the pond is a serious “teaching deck” also used for feeding fish and turtles, or for long handled dipping.
The tall tree between the two wooden walkways at the entrance is a Water Tupelo. To the right at the end of the boardwalk is a native Bald Cypress which is developing characteristic cypress knees and a Pond Cypress, a variety of Bald Cypress. Across the boardwalk from them are a Montezuma cypress and a Nuttall’s oak, both with long branches sweeping low over the pond. Around the pond are Montezuma bald cypress which are native to South Texas and Mexico. Near the pond and on the small island are native Louisiana palmettos which, unlike the common dwarf species, have short trunks and very large leaves. All these trees enjoy being in or very near to standing water.
Fish in the pond are largely limited to chunky Bluegill Sunfish, colorful Sailfin Mollies, and minnow-like Mosquitofish which do, indeed, keep the mosquito population under control. The turtles you are likely to see are Red-eared Sliders, but we also have Common Snapping Turtles and, perhaps, the little Musk Turtle, known affectionately as a stinkpot. Our frogs are Bullfrogs and the fairly common but seldom seen Bronze Frogs whose mating calls sound like the twang of a stretched rubber band.
Above the surface of the pond dragonflies are on patrol: they form a basket of their legs to capture insects to eat while in flight. On warm summer days you should see plump, golden-bellied bullfrog tadpoles popping to the surface of the pond for a gulp of air: they are in transition from the gill-breathing stage to air-breathing frogs. If you are lucky, you may see a Broad-banded Water Snake or a Ribbon Snake, neither one venomous, both hoping to catch one of those plump tadpoles.
As you approach the cabin from the pond, you see the original front porch and front door of the cabin. The yard was for many years the home of Edith’s pack of very large, excitable, and much loved dogs. Within the yard, we have added several plantings of native Houston area plants and a tranquil bird-friendly area. Pause and enjoy them.
Directions to the next stop: