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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Here is an Nine Thousand Word Post

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I have been unusually busy lately so here I wanted to post a major article - here is the equivalent of 9,000 words.  That is, if indeed a picture is worth a thousand words.  

All of these images were taken within a couple of hundred yards of my front door.  

Female Green Anole

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Eaglet Update - Independence

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As we had hoped they would, Liberty and Freedom are staying close to the nest - and to each other - as they gain independence and learn to fend for themselves.  When you look at these big, strong birds, it is hard to imagine that they were hatched the first week of March! 

As immatures, they are harder to spot because they blend into the surroundings easily; what stands out are their very powerful and bright yellow talons.  It has been so amazing to be able to witness the very attentive parents nurturing and watching over these two, and it's encouraging to see the Bald Eagle population increase at Lake O' the Pines. We've had more sightings on the Big Cypress River, as well, which may be one of the positive effects of all the extra water this past year.  

The coolest thing is that Freedom and Liberty will mature and grow and stay in this area, and one day we may be able to watch them raise their families.  In the meantime, we'll share photos as they hunt and soar and thrive over Lake O' the Pines, adding to a community that is simply awe-inspiring!

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Becoming a Birder is Incredibly Easy Except for the Hard Part - 4 Stages of Learning

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I was late becoming a birder. Oh, there was always some interest, but never strong. It was just a another feature of nature, that I, as a biologist and naturalist, wanted to have some familiarity. My real focus was on herps, reptiles and amphibians. Actually, it started with snakes, gradually began to include lizards, then turtles and on to frogs, toads & salamanders. Mammals were in the picture, too. By the time I was around 12 or 13, my bedroom and backyard was like a zoo - cages and aquariums everywhere. I didn't ignore birds for I did come up with lots of "abandoned" birds that I ended up raising. Of course, I know now that few of those birds were really abandoned, but was ignorant of that fact then. I "raised" a couple of Blue Jays, a Mockingbird, two Crows, a Turkey Vulture, and numerous Sparrows.

Later, as a biology student and then as a biologist, I was in the field a lot. While none of my work involved birds, I always made a point of getting to know the local species. Honestly, all I cared about were the more commonly seen species and it was just a mild curiosity.

I should add that I was doing a lot of photography back then as well. Birds were rarely a target for my cameras. I was mainly taking slides and photos of herps, flowers, insects, spiders and lots of scenics. Most of my gear was suited for closeup photography and not birding.

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What Do I Get For "My" Mockingbird in Lieu of Cigars?

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I have mentioned "my" Mockingbird here before. He used to land on my hand and eat live mealworms from my open palm.

I have also complained about his lack of success in finding a mate. He sang continuously - including all night long, until he finally attracted a little grey feathered cutie.

Today, he has been having a fit - really aggressive with other birds on the feeders (ten feet from his nest). He has been chasing the cat next door. He attacked the squirrels when they came to feed today. And when the little boy up the hill walked by, the Mockingbird popped him in the back of the head twice. As usual, he didn't pay much attention to me when I was out and let me take his picture as usual from about six feet away. But when the little boy up the hill walked by, the Mockingbird popped him in the back of the head twice.

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Eaglet Update - Flying Lessons

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Both Tree

At last check, both Liberty and Freedom were flying well and becoming independent. In fact, we were able to watch Liberty eat a rather sizeable fish that he'd caught on top of a stump. He pulled and picked at it, and during all of the adjusting to stay atop, he dropped a large portion over the side into the water.  He watched it fall and as he looked around, you could just imagine from the expression what he was thinking!  Meanwhile, Freedom was closer to the nest, and both parents were nearby.  We left for a while, and when we circled back by before sunset, Liberty and Freedom were sitting side by side and shoulder to shoulder, close to the nest. What a heartwarming sight! 

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Michael Mathews
Oh, they grow up fast. I think Liberty looks just like his dad, sans the white feathers.
Monday, 30 May 2016 20:53
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