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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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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Bald Eagle Observations

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On my walk today, I had a bit of an adventure.  It was rather overcast and damp so I just walked along the lake.

I took some interesting pictures of a spider on the covered dock and a few "landscapes".  I just missed a Great Blue Heron but he was too skidish and didn't give me a chance to even raise the camera.  There was also a Phoebee but in the dim light, I just couldn't get a good shot as he did not sit still for long.

Just as I was heading back uphill to my RV, a large bird flew overhead towards the bridge on Hwy 155.  I saw a flash of white.  At first I thought it was a heron, maybe with a plastic bag stuck to his foot or with an abeherant white tail.  Then I saw the flight was not that on a heron.  I realized that it was the bald eagle that I have heard lived in the area, but who had avoided me for the four months I have been here.  

He landed on he concrete slope by the bridge as I moved back toward the parking lot by the lake to try to get a shot of him.  Then he flew straight to the twin cypress just outside of the little cove by the marina and landed about half way up. I was shooting with a 200mm lens in dim light and hand held.  I knew the images would not be good, but I was getting the best shot I could.  I slowly walked forward to the closest point, expecting him to fly off at any moment.  I managed to get all the way to the edge of the water, maybe 100 yards away.  He watched me the whole way. Perhaps attracted by my red shirt, but did not leave.  For about five minutes, I kept taking his picture, know that the images would not be very good as he was too far away for my 200mm lens and the light was quite dim.

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Where Are the Turtles?

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I can't believe that it is hard to find a turtle in Lake O' the Pines.  I can't believe that I can stand on the dock and not see lots of heads bobbing in the water.  

When I was a kid, turtles were everywhere.  If you went to any body of water, turrle heads would be easy to spot.  I go down to the dock and walk along the water almost every day, sometimes several times a day.  In four months of doing this, do you know how many turtles I have seen?  How many heads?  Absolutely NONE.  Not one single turtle.  That is incredible.  And sad.  

Somewhere back around 2006, I had a friend who was involved heavily with the Sierra Club, and she made me aware of the problems with the turtle populations being decimated by exporters.  Hundreds of thousands of turtles were being trapped and sent to China where they are a delicacy.  She even when to testify for the bill that banned commercial "fishing" for turtles on public land which passed in 2007.  Unfortunatley, due to my absence from the outdoors, I did not see firsthand the impact.  Now, I am absolutely astounded.  

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About the Photographs In This Blog

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Unless credited otherwise, all photographic images on this website were taken by me.  (EDITOR'S NOTE: This was true until the summer of 2015 when others began joining me.  Photos are all from the galleries of featured photographers on this website unless otherwise noted.)

I began taking photos in a semi-serious fashion when I was in the army.  I bought my first 35mm camera at the PX in Frankfort Germany in 1967.  It was an Petri.  About a year later I purchased an Asahi (Pentax) Spotmatic.  I took LOTS of pictures.

Later, when I returned to school, I started taking a lot of photographs of nature, especially on field trips.  I took lots of photos and slides.  

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OMG! I Have Become a Birder

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Not long after I got here, I put up a hummingbird feeder and a suet feeder.  I immediately had hummers, chickadees and Titmice.  Before long I had seen Red Headed Woodpeckers, Red Bellied Woodpeckers, Downey Woodpeckers, and a variety of other species.  

The next time I went to my storage unit, I dug out my bird books from my dozens of field guides.  Then I started boneing up on the ones I was seeing.

Of course,I prowled the internet looking for information on local birds.

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