These suck.

Fortunately they suck in a good way. Gray Redhorse Suckers or Moxostoma congestum.

 
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See here for documentation.

No, these are not a new discovery. These are the same fish, perhaps even the same exact fish, that I have complained and moaned about ever since first exploring this stretch of Walnut Creek 4 years ago.

My first glimpse of these natives and my foolish brain instantly read “carp”. Carp evolved into grass carp and common carp and invasive and bad, bad, bad. I was the one that sucked.

Late last year, I even went as far as to go all “Gladys Kravitz” by reporting my latest sighting to the Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database (NAD) AND a biologist with the City of Austin. Luckily, Matthew Neilson and Todd Jackson set me straight and treated my naiveté with the respect that it certainly did not deserve.

I was prejudiced against a school of fish.

I have only ever apologized to a fish for being undersized and fatally swallowing a hook. I sincerely apologize to the entire Congestum species for my ignorance.

I am delighted that this is all behind me. They are actually quite lovely to watch and I would even consider trying to land one of the larger ones. I must hunt for a proper recipe first and quite possibly a certified scale. I sincerely doubt that there is a record for Walnut Creek and any one of these healthy inhabitants would be a fine candidate for the history books.

Perhaps, I will just let them do their yearly spawn in peace and wait for their friend Mr. Channel Cat to come back.

Look Who’s Back in Town

I am pretty sure that this is the same overachiever from 2017.

A little over two years has passed since we have seen this gentleman and all of his splendor. What a monster he has turned into. Here is a link to the the video from 2017 if you want to compare. https://youtu.be/1jV1ReBlX9k

If this is indeed the same beautiful creature, we need to borrow a little biological research from Charles W. Ramsey and the Wildlife Management Handbook to get a very rough estimate of his age. The minimal changes to his physique and the mature antlers in 2017 suggest that he was at least 5 1/2 years old back then. This puts his minimum age today at 7 1/2. We cannot know for certain unless he makes a dental appointment.

It could be the camera, but the deer in 2019 looks younger and healthier. This could be attributed to just coming off a period of drought. As always, I enjoy hearing everyone’s thoughts, comments, and feedback.

I know there are more than a few readers who would like to adorn your wall with this fine specimen. Please remember that Sparkle Farm and it’s neighbors are only big enough for the viewing of wildlife only. If you would like more information on how to hunt a trophy of your very own, please contact the Texas Parks and Wildlife department for information on hunting on public lands.

https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/public/

Who else grew up with one of these?

We would pack one of these boards where ever we went hunting. The new ones are all reproductions, but the one we learned on was made with actual preserved jaw bones. My brother and I would spend hours putting each other’s finger on a set of teeth with our eyes closed. Reading each group like Braille and trying to guess the corresponding age. Clearly, this was pre-internet but we found it to be quite entertaining while holed up at deer camp. and more importantly, it kept us out of the hair of the all too serious domino players.

Sandhill Cranes

I was sauntering down to the creek this morning to see if I could catch a glimpse of the Wood Ducks that have graced us with their presence once again, when I heard the cawing of migrating Sandhill Cranes above. They were circling with a lone vulture trying to fit in. Maybe the creek looked inviting next to the neighbors fallow corn field? Whatever the luck, I was fortunate enough to watch them meander across the sky. Happy Friday on the Sparkle Farm.