September 2022
Note from the Environmental Education Center

While we look forward to cooler weather and the official start of fall, nature has already begun the transition. Fall migration can begin as early as July for some species and last through November for others. John Paul Landing serves as a gathering point for purple martins gearing up for their migration south — with as many as a thousand seen in the park. By late August or early September, the purple martins will move on, while other migrants continue to arrive.
Birds may get a lot of attention, but they aren’t the only ones on the move. Butterflies, dragonflies, and many other animals also begin their journey south. Even the park’s flora is starting to change. The hot, dry summer will surely have an effect on our fall plant community. But hopefully, bluestem grasses, crotons, and fall wildflowers will soon thrive.
They provide vital resources for incoming winter residents and migrants passing through. It is a fun time to come out for a walk and see what new species you can observe. We hope you will share your adventures with us.

Photos by Megan Ahlgren
September Events at John Paul Landing
A Closer Look at Nature:
Life in the Lake

Wednesday, Sept. 14,
2 3 p.m. or

Saturday, Sept. 17,
10 11 a.m.

Designed for school-aged children. Registration required. Click here for more information.
Nature Discussion Group:
The Narrow Edge

Thursday, Sept. 22,
12:30 1:30 p.m.

Suitable for adults and older students with a keen interest in nature. Click here for more information.
Backyard Naturalists:
Houston Bird Week

Saturday, Sept. 24,
10 11 a.m.

Suitable for adults and children 10 and older. Click here for more information.
Nature Notes
The northern bobwhite is a small but charismatic quail found throughout much of Texas and the eastern United States. These grassland birds are more often heard than seen and are instantly recognizable by their whistled “bob-WHITE” call. Nesting and dwelling on the ground, these quail have short tails and round bodies with brown, black, and white patterning that helps them blend into their environment. Most of the year, bobwhites are social birds, living in groups of up to 20, called coveys. In the spring, they split off into pairs to prepare for nesting. During breeding season, males may sit in trees or on fences and call to defend their mate and territory. Their displays offer some of the best opportunities to view and photograph these striking birds. 
Northern bobwhites were once common in our area but have declined rapidly in recent decades. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the northern bobwhite as Near Threatened (NT). John Paul Landing Park sits on part of the Katy Prairie and retains some quality grassland habitat. A few northern bobwhites from the original Katy Prairie population still make their home at John Paul Landing. This year, we were excited to see evidence of nesting success, as a female bobwhite paraded 12 young birds around the natural areas near the Environmental Education Center. Life can be dangerous for bobwhite chicks. But as they get older and more daring, they can be seen throughout the park. Keep your eyes open on your next visit; you might catch sight of them foraging in the taller grass or running across the lawn.

Photos by Sarah Kuzio (top) and Megan Ahlgren (bottom)
How many species of quail are found in Texas?
a. 2
b. 4
c. 6
Discussion Preview:
The Narrow Edge

Each year, red knots complete an epic 19,000-mile migration from South America to the Arctic and back. Along the way, they feed on the eggs of horseshoe crabs, an ancient animal vital to humans. As part of our celebration of Houston Bird Week, we will discuss Deborah Cramer’s book “The Narrow Edge: A Tiny Bird, an Ancient Crab, and an Epic Journey” on Thursday, Sept. 22, from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. Join us to learn about the interwoven lives of red knots, horseshoe crabs, and humans. This discussion is best suited for adults and older students with a keen interest in nature. We hope you will attend and share your thoughts. 

Volunteer Spotlight
Volunteers come in many forms. Over the summer, we were grateful for some fellow educators who volunteered their time to present during our Discovery Days series. These programs allowed kids to interact with the natural world in a unique way, and each educator offered an experience to remember. Riki’s Reptile Relocation let families hold snakes, Texas Wildlife Association investigated animal skins and skulls, and Houston Audubon impressed with live raptors. We thank these partners for making our summer programs a success! If you are interested in volunteering, contact us at
Photo by Megan Ahlgren
Answer to "How many species of quail are found in Texas?"

How many species of quail are found in Texas?
Answer: b. 4

In addition to northern bobwhite, Montezuma quail, Gambel’s quail, and scaled quail can also be found in the state.
Harris County Precinct 4
Commissioner R. Jack Cagle

Thank you for reading this monthly newsletter from the staff at John Paul Landing Park & Environmental Education Center. I hope you learned something new about our services, activities, and programs.

As your county commissioner, I’m proud of the work your Precinct 4 staff and volunteers perform every day to improve access to greenspaces. We pledge to continue this service in the future. 

Please stay tuned for our next issue to learn more about our events, activities, and news!
9950 Katy Hockley Road, Cypress, TX 77443