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HomeHomeWildflower Repo...Wildflower Repo...Texas Wildflowe...Texas Wildflowe...Field Report: Willow City Loop, Texas 16, RR-965Field Report: Willow City Loop, Texas 16, RR-965
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3/12/2016 7:45 PM

Field Report: 3/12/2016
Routes: US 87, Texas 16, Willow City Loop, RR-965

Texas 16 Roadside Bluebonnets - These were up close the fence-line.

Good News: Overall what I saw was a mixed bag of hope and wondering.  I saw blooms right along the roadsides of Texas 16, Willow City Loop and RR-965, spotted through the shoulders and up along the fences. Some of these blooms looked mature, but not at peak yet. Some blooms were just starting their journey up the bloom stalk and others somewhere in between.  Then there were plants without blooms and in different stages of development. There were tiny ones barely the size of a quarter, some the size of a silver dollar, others the size of the palm of my hand. The ones with blooms were bushed up, but small compared to others I have seen in the past. There were a fairly good number of plants everywhere I checked. Most spots had long stretches with plants no more than a few inches between them. Several areas the plants were spread so close together you could not pick out where one plant started and the other stopped. So all of that gave me hope. But I am wondering how we got to this point on March 12th?  And why such a diverse range of blooms and plant sizes? My working theory is that the combination of late fall rains that went into early December combine with warm temperatures resulted in germination at different points in time. So we have some plants that germinated in early October, some in November and more in early December.  Perhaps the ones that germinated in late November into early December got "stunted" in growth due to the sudden drop in rainfall in January and February. It makes sense to me when I see early blooms right along the roadside, yet I also saw blooms there and throughout the shoulders and along the fence lines. And I also saw other sizes of blooms and plants throughout the same range of locations.

Texas 16 Roadside Bluebonnets

Bluebonnet Rosettes along Texas 16 at same spot of the two photos above. Note there are lots of small plants not ready to bloom but some beginning.

About Willow City Loop: I only checked the north end of the Loop from Texas 16 to Click RD. I saw blooms all along the road much like I saw along Texas 16. I also saw blooms out beyond the road along the banks of the creeks. There were easy to see plants without blooms yet.  If I had to call it today, I would say the Loop will have an average season and it is at least 10 to 15 days from peak. Given some more rain in the next two weeks, the Loop should be at peak for the Easter holiday weekend. There is plenty of water in all of the creeks and even running right along the edges of the roads at times. There could be some interesting spots that go beyond average.

Soapbox Moment: Although I still give an early season report on Willow City Loop, I rarely ever go back during the peak of the season. This is due to the really overwhelming large crowds of people in cars, bikes and bicycles. Today, I saw more than I would normally see this early in the season. And so many already parking along the road, and out in the fields. I even saw one guy down below the small water fall of a creek - probably 20 or so yards down that creek. Willow City Loop is a working ranch road and there are livestock throughout the length of the loop at times. The property owners go through constant stress and worry during the bluebonnet season. Sometimes the county sheriff sends a patrol car out to move people along and get them out of the fields.  The owners do not want people to stop and get out or off their vehicles along that road. I respect that request and shoot my photos from the car window.  Okay, I am back down off the soapbox.

Texas 16: Same as noted above, but it does appear there will be some surprise spots along Texas 16 north of the intersection of RR-1323 to past the intersection with RR-965.  I easily saw early blooms and other plants still developing. I was able to spot some blooms and plants along Sandy Creek.  Given we continue to get sun plus a couple more rain showers, I think the bulk of the plants along the road should peak close to Easter weekend. There will be a portion that will peak much earlier, but there are plenty plants yet to bush up. I would be surprised if fields fill in before the end of March – but it is a weird season so I am not putting bets on that either way. Where’s that wildflower hedge fund! 

RR-965: I did not go all the way to the entrance of Enchanted Rock SNA, but I was able to see plants and early bloomers along some key spots that in the past have produced very nice displays. With good conditions this could provide some nice bluebonnet displays.

Bad News (little more soapbox):  Where have all the wildflowers gone along I-10 from Leon Springs to Comfort?  I saw maybe two small clumps of bluebonnets, a sprinkle of paintbrush and pinch of other wildflowers. This used to be a really beautiful portal to the San Antonio area. Now it is green winter grass! The grass is nice and healthy and looks like the area got enough rain based on my analysis. So where are our wildflowers?  I hope it is just too early and not that the winter grass has taken over our wildflowers. What a sad thing if that has happened. 

US 87: Also pretty much void of plants in the locations where I have seen them before. Again, hopefully it is just too early.

Bottom-line: It is clearly early out there, but then there are the early bloomer defying that statement. Still overall despite the early bloomers it is easy to see plants that are not ready to take the stage and bloom for the audience yet.  You know, that uncertainly is one facet of wildflower hunting that keeps me wanting to come back for more! 

HomeHomeWildflower Repo...Wildflower Repo...Texas Wildflowe...Texas Wildflowe...Field Report: Willow City Loop, Texas 16, RR-965Field Report: Willow City Loop, Texas 16, RR-965