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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Why Are My Red Squirrels Turning Black?

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As I am want to do, I recently moved my RV to a new site. This time it is on the banks of Lone Star Lake only ten miles or so from the spot on Lake O' the Pines where I had been for quite a while. 

This relatively short move revealed a lot of changes in the wildlife. Of course, at the old location, I was closer to some rather remote woods (a few hundred yards away in two directions). Here, it is more of a residential area. I knew there would be some differences with the wildlife that I was used to seeing and, indeed, there were some major changes.

In particular, there were far fewer birds, although it turned out that there are as many species, including some that I see here and didn't see there; and vice versa. The numbers are very different. Here, it is unusual to have more than ten birds at a time on my feeders (eight of them out right now) and before, that would be very few, dozens were more likely. 

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Dead Ancestors Are Delicious and Oh So Nutritious

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With Spring coming, I start to get antsy.  We have had some warm days and nights lately (in February) and the other afternoon I heard tree frogs calling. It won't be long before the pond and creek bottoms are blackened by little tadpoles. There is no telling how many thousand of them that I killed . . . uh caught as a kid, put in a jar or aquarium and watched for hours.  I meant well but the mortality rate was high.  Of course, it is in nature, too.  

Each male and female frog may have many hundreds eggs.  In order for the frog population to remain stable, only two need survive and in most cases that is what happens.  Otherwise, we would be knee-deep in frogs.

Did you ever wonder what happens during the Springs that don't get enough rain for the frogs to successfully breed?  Here in east Texas, that doesn't happen often but when it does, there is an interesting development (no pun intended).  

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Kristi Mears Thomas
Wonderful blog, Michael! Thank you! You are so right - Nature is just so amazing!
Thursday, 25 February 2016 05:31
Jill Wright
Wow!! Fascinating facts about "arrested" tadpole development and how it benefits the next generation - I learn from your posts ev... Read More
Monday, 29 February 2016 16:35
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Are You A Male or Female Wasp? OOOWWW! Yep. You're a Female.

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From an early age I have been fascinated with wasps.  In fact one of my early memories is of reaching out to grab a paper wasp nest.  They did not appreciate the gesture. 

The stings did not make me stay away from them.  A few years later, we had a wasp nest on our porch and I would climb up with a wide mouthed jar and quickly put it over the nest so I could get close and look at the nest and all the wasps.  Naturally, all of the wasps were not on the nest at the time and when one that was out flying around came back, I would be stung again.  Usually more than once.  For when the returning wasp stung me, I would drop the jar and before I could get down, the other wasps that were on the nest, under the jar, would also take their shots at me.  They were a little excited from the jar over the nest and my face a few inches away.  When they suddenly could get to me, they stung me, too, sometimes repeatedly.  Imagine that.

They have always been interesting to me and I have messed with them and their nests time and again.  I used to have a collection of nests and dead wasps pinned to them so they looked like they were still alive working the nest. 

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