East Texas Naturalist Blog

Information and photographs mainly about nature in east Texas. Our authors have widely diverse backgrounds and write on a variety of topics.

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I Saw the Greatest Nature Show Ever (And Not on TV)

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I have always been a big fan of nature shows on TV. My DVR records them daily. This morning I got to see the greatest nature show that I've ever seen. My DVR didn't record this one, but it is recorded where it will never be forgotten.

Many of my mornings start sitting in a comfortable chair about thirty feet from the edge of Lone Star Lake, my binoculars on my chest, a cup of coffee on the picnic table beside me, and my camera in my lap. It certainly was not an ideal morning for photography with cloudy, overcast skies but you can't choose the weather. 

This morning I was watching as a couple of Double-crested Cormorants flew by. Then the season's first American Coots showed up. The usual neighborhood birds were feeding on my feeders and calling from all around.

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Birding is HOT During the Summer - Is that a cliche?

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Summer is not really the most popular time for birding in East Texas. There are likely two reasons for that.

First and not surprisingly, East Texas summers are HOT. That definitely affects us birders. It really is not quite as much fun to get out in the woods when the temperature is in the 90's and the humidity close to the steam setting. 

The second factor is due to the birds themselves. By the time that the summer heat arrives, the Spring migrators have mostly gone further north, leaving just the local species - the ones that we are mostly used to seeing. Of course, they aren't crazy about the heat either.

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OH! OH! That's My Favorite! NO! That one! Favorite Photos - 2017

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I take thousands of photos each year - really. Out of that, there is a much smaller number that I end up keeping and an even smaller number that I post for others to see. 

Like last year, I went through all the pictures I took the previous year (2017) and picked out the ones that were my favorites.  That is harder than it sounds.  

Here are my favorites for last year. Please feel free to give feedback with a comment. 

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Going From "Nice picture" to OH! My gosh! That's beautiful!"

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For most of us self-taught photographers, there is a considerable learning curve as we begin to learn how to take "good" pictures. We normally progress a little at a time as we learn about exposure, light, composition, and increase our knowledge of behavior whether that be of people or animals, depending on our favored subject.  We progress to taking "good" pictures that others do occasionally admire. This often leads to a  plateau of competence. We continue taking "good" pictures and there is gradual, slight improvement as we learn more. But then, for some, there is a giant leap. All at once the pictures go for "good" to soaring to a whole new level. 

How fast we go through the process is highly variable with each individual and their circumstances. There are some who progress in a matter of a year or two; others take many years; and, of course, some never make the transition. 

Now, I do want to make something clear here. I am talking about self-taught photographers. Whether that means reading photography how-to books, watching YouTube videos, or just shooting and shooting pictures. There is a different curve for those who have more formal training. With formal photography education, there are certain steps that are taken and it naturally includes the factor that allows photographers to go to the next level of success.  Success being defined as taking exceptional photos. 

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Spring in the Lost and Found Box

Carolina Wren

Eastern Kingbird

Great Blue Heron

Brown-headed Cowbird

Female Red-bellied Woodpecker

Diamondback Watersnake

Northern Cardinal

We had a big storm blow through the Lake O' the Pines area last night. For a while, the winds were rather fierce accompanied by a drumming rain that brought a bit of hail and just ...
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