East Texas Naturalist Blog

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Scientific Names Are All Wrong

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When I first got pretty serious about snakes, which was when I was around 11, I had my first exposure to scientific names.  It wasn't enough to identify a Texas Ratsnake, I wanted to know the proper name, the scientific name.  At the time, that was Elaphe obsoleta lindheimeri.  And I learned that the many water snakes that bit the daylights out of me each time I caught one, were Natrix rhombifera and Natrix ethrogaster.  The little Red-Eared Sliders that I caught and some I bought at the 5 and dime, were Pseudemys scripta elegans.  

In my considerable years of absence from the scientific world and especially that of Taxonomy, things sure changed.  Our local ratsnakes went from Elaphe to Pantherophis; watersnakes - Natrix to Nerodia; sliders - Pseudoemys went to Trachemys; and there were many other changes.  Of course, this is a natural occurence in biology.  

Specimen are examined and classified as belonging to a certain genus. Sometimes, if there were no similar genus, one was created for them.  (I am ignoring species designations here which work in a similar fashion).  

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Michael Mathews
Here is an example of exactly why taxonomy can drive one crazy. http://www.migration.blairsociety.com/Inciliusnebulifer.html... Read More
Tuesday, 18 August 2015 10:46
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How About a Lizard

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Along with the missing turtles, I have seen very few lizards this year.  

When I was doing an estate sale in Harleton, I regularly saw a 5 Lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) and a 6 Lined Racerunner Whiptail lizard (Aspidoscelis sexlineata).  At the RV park I have seen one Anolis lizard (Anolis carolinensis) and a couple of times I have seen 5 Lined Skinks - including one on my site when I was moving big rocks to make an outdoor fire ring.

On my several trips across the highway where I walk in the woods, I have seen 2 Anolis lizards.  Two.

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Second Followup on the Mystery Bird and More

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Well, I solved the mystery.  The Mystery Bird mystery.  I found a new tool that is really quite incredible.  It is the Merlin Bird Id by Cornell Lab of Orintholgy.  This is an app for iPhone (and other smart phones).  Easy as can be to use and zeroes right in on identifying birds.

In this case the bird was a Ruby Crowned Kinglet.  The first I have ever seen.  

If you are a birder, you likely already know of this tool, but if not check it out.  Just Google "Merlin Bird Id".

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Followup On Mystery Bird

Well, the mystery bird from yesterday apparently has no watch.  I sat beneath the same tree today, at the same time, but the tree was rather empty today.

It was rather a dull day for a wouldbe birder.  There were a few of the usual old "friends" that I see almost everyday.  Just as I was about to head back in I looked up and there went a bald eagle.  His head was glowing in the light of the sitting sun and, I hate to use a cliche, but he looked majestic.  

Nice way to end the day.  

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Quiet Afternoon

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It has been a quiet day.  I made a very short walk today, impeded somewhat by my dog sitting.  I have a young male chihuahua staying with me and I go feed his four relatives twice a day.  The little ones stays with me because the others beat the dickens out of him.  So he is my new "buddy".

I walked around the RV park and that was about it, but the day was not a total nature washout.

Around 5 PM, I was sitting out in my "yard" overlooking the lake when I started noticing a lot of bird activity.  Of course, my mockingbirds were there.  I expect them to land on my chair at any time - they are rather bold.  But in the sycamore tree just thirty or so feet away, there was a lots to see.  The chickadees were flying back and forth as were the Titmice.  Then I noticed a bird I don't see all that often, a Nuthatch.  He explored the tree trunk for a few minutes.  Then came a pair of blue jays who only stayed for a few seconds.  Next was a male cardinal who flew past.  Up in the sky was a pair of turkey vultures floating with the cross currents.  A couple of crows flew by as well.  Out at the edge of the lake, the great blue heron was perched on his usual post and I could see several great egrets in sight.  This was all in the space of maybe ten minutes.  

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