Galatyn Woodland Preserve – Richardson, Texas

Naturalists in Texas find ways to create small green refuges in the heart of the bustling metroplex that is Dallas/Fort Worth. The Galatyn Woodland Preserve is one such spot. The signage in this preserve is so well done that I’m including photos and extracting the text to share in italics. The 1/2 mile loop will take 20 minutes to amble through. Shall we? 😃

Let’s enter the preserve from the Blue Cross Blue Shield campus.

Nature buffers you from Central Expressway in the distance.

On sign:
Welcome to the Galatyn Woodland Preserve
The City of Richardson invites you to explore an 8-acre natural setting surrounded by the rush of 21st century commerce. The Galatyn Woodland Preserve and its 1/2 mile loop trail opened in April 2003. The level, 12-foot wide concrete path is perfect for walkers, runners, bicycle riders and nature enthusiasts alike. Enjoy a break from the regular daily routine and escape for a moment into nature. Maybe you will discover some of the wildlife that lives here.

The Galatyn Woodland Preserve is open daily from dawn until dusk.

The following businesses and organizations made this Richardson park possible:

Galatyn Park Corporation donated the land.
– Texas Parks and Wildlife Department provided grant assistance for the development of the park.
– The Rotary Clubs of Richardson, in Service Above Self, donated the interpretive signage. Rotary is an international organization that strives to improve the lives of others through humanitarian efforts and service projects.

Map legend:
Slope: level trail • Surface: 12-foot wide concrete • Length: 1/2 mile loop• Walking time: 15-20 minutes

On sign:
A Hidden Jewel
The Galatyn Woodland Preserve protects a small woodland and water habitat within an intense urban setting. It demonstrates that natural species can thrive in the midst of city growth. Sustainable wildlife habitat in natural areas, green belts, public parks and even in backyards can provide areas for appreciation and observation of native species in their natural environment. It can also provide places of relaxation and study for humans.

The name of this preserve comes from Albert Galatyn Hill, husband of Margaret Hunt Hill, whose family played a large role in the expansion of the Telecom Corridor and in the development of Richardson and Dallas County. The family name is traced to Albert Gallatin, treasury secretary for President Thomas Jefferson.

On sign:
What is an Urban Naturalist?
The City of Richardson has recently pioneered a new effort to assist in the management of its natural resources. Based on and assisted by the Texas Master Naturalist program of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Richardson Urban Naturalists (RUN) is a corps of “master volunteers” trained to lead public programs, conduct resource surveys and work on habitat conservation projects. Leading nature walks or conducting special classes, these volunteers are spreading a deeper appreciation for urban wildlife habitat.

Build them and they will come.
One of the projects promoted by RUN members is building nesting boxes for birds: In a natural setting, large dead trees provide homes for cavity dwelling birds, but these are usually removed in urban neighborhoods. Nesting boxes can help replace the dwindling habitat for these birds. If you look closely while walking through the Preserve, you may see some of the work of the Richardson volunteers.


Plans available for nesting boxes include the design and dimensions required to attract specific birds.

Fond memories of completing the field and classroom instruction to gain certification as a Texas Master Naturalist came back as I read that sign. Full-time employment and that thing called life ended my yearly commitment to the volunteer hours and continuing education it takes to remain certified.

On sign:
Beak and Feather
The City of Richardson set aside the Galatyn Woodland Preserve in 2002 and began work to reestablish the habitat shortly afterwards. As the area matures, bird life will increase. During seasonal changes, there will be migrant birds coming here on their annual flights. The year-round residents will also increase. You are likely to see herons and other wading birds near the ponds. You might hear the hoot of an occasional owl in the woods or the shrill cry of a hawk circling in the sky.

Birds of the Galatyn Woodland Preserve
The birds highlighted below in blue are rarely seen in urban settings but can be attracted by resources in preserves like Galatyn.

[I bolded the bird names below instead of shading them blue. 😊]

Swainson’s Hawk
Eastern Screech Owl
Eastern Bluebird
Wood Duck
Heron
Great Blue Heron
Yellow-Crowned Night Heron
Great Egret
Cattle Egret
Mallard
Mourning Dove
Rock Dove
Yellow-Billed Cuckoo
Chimney Swift
Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker

Great-Crested Flycatcher
Blue-Headed Vireo

American Crow
Blue Jay
American Robin
Purple Martin
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Carolina Wren
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Tennessee Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Magnolia Warbler

American Redstart
Black-and-White Warbler
Wilson’s Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Orange-Crowned Warbler
Northern Parula
Ovenbird
Northern Waterthrush
Northern Cardinal
Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

Summer Tanager
Indigo Bunting
Baltimore Oriole
Orchard Oriole
Common Grackle
Brown-Headed Cowbird
House Sparrow

On sign:
Life Along the Edges
This woodland area was once part of the “edge” environment on the Blackland Prairie of Texas. It then became a boundary along the agricultural fields that moved into the prairie. As urban development expanded into Northern Dallas County, natural areas such as this have become isolated. The Galatyn Woodland Preserve exists today as a mixture of remnant native plants and species brought in to reestablish the woodland area.

Along the water edges, the riparian area in the Preserve is a vegetation zone that is an important transition between the local upland and aquatic ecosystems. Invertebrate and insect life thriving in this environment becomes food for small fish; the fish then become food for amphibians, reptiles and water birds in the local food chain. It is in these areas that you generally see the most wildlife — if you are quiet and observant.

A healthy riparian area:
– Stabilizes stream banks with dense vegetation, reducing damage from erosive flood waters.
– Reduces flood velocities and bank erosion, minimizing property losses.
– Filters sediment, maintaining good water quality, reducing siltation of ponds and lakes.
– Improves wildlife habitat and fisheries by providing cool water, food and cover.
– Provides shelter for wildlife during weather extremes.
– Increases late summer stream flows for water supply, wildlife and fisheries by recharging groundwater.
– Provides popular recreation sites for walking, picknicking, fishing and wildlife watching.

Will we see a heron today?

On sign:
Galatyn as a Gateway
The Galatyn trail is only one of many in the Richardson trail system. From here you can connect directly across Glenville Drive with a trail north into the 51-acre Spring Creek Nature Area.

Like many of the early settlers in what is now Richardson, Jacob Routh and his family were interested in preserving the natural setting of the area. By the late 1800s, they created an undisturbed habitat for native birds and animals on their Spring Creek lands. The city eventually acquired this property in 1992 to preserve the wildlife habitat along the waterway. Spring Creek Nature Area now has almost 2 miles of multi-use trails for recreation and nature study.

To the south of Galatyn Woodland Preserve, a paved trail provides recreational access along the DART right-of-way.

[Map showing “Richardson’s Trails in the Galatyn Vicinity”]

Wonder what critter took those very precise bites out of these leaves?!

On sign:
Tooth and Fur
As development surrounding the Galatyn Woodland Preserve has reduced the local habitat, several mammal species find homes or hunting grounds here. You may spot some of them as you quietly walk the trail. Others are identified by tracks or evidence left behind. Notice the wire wrapped around some of the trees. This is to protect them from the beaver that have moved into the wetlands area.

All the leaves are brown … I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day. California Dreamin’, anyone?

On sign:
In the Water and Out
Much of the animal life in the Galatyn Woodland Preserve is sometimes heard but not always easy to find. Amphibians — frogs and toads — depend on available water sources for their lives. They hatch as tadpoles in the water and then are able to move onto land as they mature. Listen in the early evenings to male toads and frogs calling to attract mates.

Reptiles — turtles and snakes — also can be found along watercourses hunting for food and using the available moisture to help regulate body temperature. The sounds you may hear from them might be a rustling in the grass or a sudden splash into the water.

This looks like a great spot to quietly observe woods and water!

On sign:
Linked by Rails and Roads
Railways and roadways have played an important role in Richardson’s history. The town was established in 1873 when the Houston & Texas Central Railway built on donated lands north of the earlier settlement of Breckinridge. The new town site was named for railroad contractor E.H. Richardson.

Richardson grew slowly, connected with Dallas from 1908 to the 1940s by the electric Interurban Railway. It remained a sleepy farming community until the 1950s when Collins Radio and Texas Instruments moved to the area and established an “electronic suburb.” Central Expressway (US 75) was extended within Richardson’s transportation corridor in 1954 and provided a better road link to Dallas. With the arrival of new companies in the 1980s, the “electronic suburb”. became the Telecom Corridor.

Listen for an approaching train
You will hear a DART train pass by while you walk the Galatyn trail. Beginning in 2002, the light rail service of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) continues this important transportation connection for the area. It is also a link to the past, for it uses the old roadbed of earlier railways.

After a special Saturday ceremony, DART officially began service through the Galatyn Station on Monday, July 1, 2002.

The Galatyn Woodland Preserve is part of the 500-acre Galatyn Park, a mixed-use, rail-transit-oriented development alongside the DART rails and Central Expressway (US Highway 75).

Chess or checkers? Our referee: a juniper tree!

What did you think of the walk around the preserve? Wanna return in the spring? If we come at dawn, there’ll be birds — and birdsong. I’ll bring a thermos of chai and many munchies! 🌿🌿🌿

Who said Dallas is all concrete and commerce?

With a job market in the nation’s top five, Big D needs structures to house all of that wheeling and dealing and shopping and dining. The metroplex is even home to the largest furniture mart in the States, but helping offset this dubious distinction are pockets of greenery everywhere. Need proof? Come walk with me.

Hear cottonwoods rustle in Breckinridge Park.

Cottonwood trees in Breckenridge Park (Richardson, Texas)

Wanna stroll around the pond?

So many butterflies! Check out this phaon crescent feasting on frog fruit, a Texas ground cover and butterfly magnet.

Butterfly on frog fruit, a Texas native ground cover

Let’s chill in the gazebo

Gazebo in Breckinridge Park

with some good reeds.

Reeds and rushes around the water feature at Breckinridge Park

Let’s ascend the gentle incline to the parking lot for this view of Breck.

Pond and sky at Breckinridge Park

Then it’s 70 mph down Central. We’ll offset the hurtle and make like turtles with chai and samosas at home.

***
Credits:
This poster helped me ID the butterfly: Common Butterflies of Texas

Glencoe Park – Dallas, Texas

This 14-acre Dallas gem has it all. Two tennis courts, a basketball court, soccer and softball fields, a kiddie playscape, a picnic pavilion, and a tree-lined paved trail.

With all those facilities, you’d think the park would be crowded, but it’s not. It manages to be lively and serene at the same time. You’ll find foursomes playing spikeball, their boombox playing MNEK. The easy rhythm of tennis volleys. Pickup basketball spiked with reggaeton. Walkers and runners hitting the trail.

Glencoe Park provides a leafy respite even on the hottest days. Thirty-two mature trees line the inner perimeter of the trail, 46 ring the outer, 10 young trees circle the playscape, and 15 more surround the tennis courts, some of them conifers. That’s more than a hundred trees in a 14-acre space!

Because most of the park’s acreage consists of the playing fields the trail encloses, the expanse of open sky above presents new and surprising sights every time. You can catch a glimpse of two skyscrapers from the south edge of the park.

That skyscraper near the middle of this photo is new. I watched it go up. Eastline Residences with *stunning* views.

When your eyes have dropped from the cloud collage in the sky, there’s artwork on the retaining wall to take in. See those doves in flight on the far right in the pic below?

That’s an SMU building by Central Expressway, which flanks the park on the west.

Find a bench. Check out the sky. Rest those computer eyes. Butterscotch, peach, and lavender mingle in this twilight scene. So yummy.

See a rainbow arc through just-washed air.

I ❤ Glencoe Park.

***
Here’s the Dallas Parks and Rec listing.

Web designers of White Rock Lake

Today I wanted to zen out by looking at turtles, so I drove to a spot where they tend to hang out. Especially on sunny days!

Three ducks underneath pedestrian/bicycle bridge at White Rock Lake

From that footbridge on White Rock Lake, I saw many turtles in the water — box turtles, map turtles, Texas sliders — swimming, touching snouts. Baby turtles darting about. Under the bridge, three ducks sat conferring in the shade. Take note of the triangular supports in the above photo. You’ll soon see them again from a different angle! 🙂

Going to White Rock Lake is predictable in some ways. The views are lovely no matter which approach you take, but every visit brings surprises too. Come, have a look at what I found today!

Spider web straddling bridge cables
Concentricked out!

I definitely wasn’t expecting to see spider webs.

Spider web in the vertical plane
Some a little bare from wear and tear
Spider web and duck in the water
A photobombing duck!

In the next few shots, you’ll see webs in the span between two triangular supports (remember those from the first photo?). Every bit of bridge “real estate” between the supports — air, really — had a spider’s web in it, allowing for capture of their amazing creations against the darker background of lake water.

Spider web on a horizontal plane
My first time seeing a spider web in the horizontal plane. I’m looking down at the water for this shot.

And now for a high-rise development: three webs layered in the same real-estate rectangle.

A layering of three webs at different heights

This spider chose a corner of the triangle to build, bucking the mega mansion trend with a tiny house.

A small web on the pedestrian bridge

And now for a sprawling creation!

A magnificent spider web in the horizontal plane, its strands visible against the water
How could one not marvel at the industry of this arachnid whose canvas is a thousand times the area of its body?

Add sunlight for staging and greenery for curb appeal.

A bokeh of web images, haha

A few minutes in nature and I feel renewed. I know, I still owe you turtle pics! 😀

Webbed feat

The natural world is full of highly skilled builders. Take this spider in Vancouver, for instance. Spotted in the tranquil moments before my SkyTrain ride to the airport and return to Dallas couple years back.

Spider building web; Vancouver, British Columbia

These arachnids don’t step back to look at their work and make changes. They skip sketching in pencil to paint with silk in three dimensions. [Charlotte even solves crosswords with a ballpoint pen when no one’s looking. 😉]

This is the spider’s reality: Build a web so you can eat. The concentric shapes, tensile strength, and gossamer appearance of those filaments are beyond awe-inspiring for me. I’m counting almost 60 rings in this stunner of a food-catcher. I totally lucked out with the dark foliage background and sunlight hitting the web just right.

Spiders are big risk-takers, too. Their handiwork could be destroyed in a flash, but it doesn’t stop them from doing their dharma. Now that’s just fly!

Peace by piece

Jigsaw puzzles enjoyed record sales in 2020. They became “such a favorite pandemic pastime” that retailers had “a hard time keeping them in stock,” said NPR. Cooking and baking saw similar spikes in interest, as did crafting and DIY projects. Considering that many facets of urban life moved online, screen time ballooned beyond watching TV, playing video games, and using mobile devices.

Not surprisingly, a desire to wander without WiFi led to the pursuit of more tactile hobbies. Nothing like kneading dough by hand or building a trellis for a respite from glowing pixels and haptic feedback.

In some respects, jigsaw puzzles offer additional advantages that few other pastimes can claim: a predictable outcome and closure! Work and life are full of gray areas, dead ends, and corner cases. In a jigsaw puzzle, a piece either fits or it does not. No two ways about it. Sponge cakes might rise to the occasion or fall flat, and ferns can be finicky. While pastimes like baking and gardening are worth every bit of effort, there are times when the path of least resistance holds great appeal. I traipsed down that road with a 500-piece puzzle.

It took a small amount of effort and some focus without being mind-bending. I would probably not opt for monochromatic puzzles as watching the picture emerge is part of the thrill for me. That being said, I wouldn’t mind a map puzzle in two colors as I’ve always been a bit of a cartography geek. M.C. Escher illustrations would do the trick, too!

Bird by Bird

If you’ve browsed this blog, you know that the avian world holds a special place here. This puzzle was meant to be a fun outlet and mental break, so I tried not to overthink it. I started with a rough game plan — probably nothing new for jigsaw puzzlers — and it worked well for me!

Find the corner pieces. There are four in any square or rectangular jigsaw puzzle. Then suss out all the pieces with a straight edge. These will interlock to frame the puzzle.

Pick a bird you love or a color you can easily spot in the jumble of pieces. The mauve bird was a breeze to assemble for this reason. So were the bird with lime green and brown plumage and the bright red cardinal.

Find a way to make sense of the background pieces. Once the birdies find their spots, the bits for the “connective tissue” or sky – the blue background and music notes and marks, in this case – need to fall in place. I separated the jumble of blue pieces left over into three types: music notation; tiny bit of plumage; and the birds’ little feet. And then it was a matter of finding homes for all those shapes.

Oh, the quiet sense of accomplishment when the 500th piece snugged down! What’s more, these winged cuties put a smile on my face and a song in my heart!

***
That vast shopping mall that is the internet holds an infinite number of puzzle options. Here I chose the Galison number, Songbirds. I remember doing one on cheese varieties from a different company many, many moons ago and displaying the fromage homage on a kitchen wall. Have a photograph you’d like turned into a jigsaw puzzle? You can do it on Shutterfly! The possibilities! 😀 Enjoy!

Retail therapy

It’s not what you think, and it don’t cost a thing!

a box of cards at the craft store

Love at first sight

The highlight of my weekend showed up in the produce section!

How sweet you are to end my melon-choly

A beverage container lifted my spirits!

Yes, indeed!

Does the world weigh down upon your soul?
Need to find some mirth so you feel whole?

Just look at all the labels and the signs
In stores, on fruit, and e’en adorning wine
The words shape-shift and take you by surprise
The chuckles hit — you laugh until you cry!

***

Thanks to CLJ for the bev idea! 🙏💙