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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The Things I Did at Nine Years Old Would Get Me Put Under the Jail Now

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When I was growing up in east Texas, I caught everything I get my hands on including using various kinds of traps.  In particular, there is no telling how many snakes, lizards, turtles, toad, frogs and salamanders that I at least temporarily added to my collection.  At the time there were no laws related to collecting or capturing reptiles and amphibians.  Wow, has that changed.

One important part of all this is that you cannot even temporarily capture or handle reptiles or amphibians even if you are just trying to photograph them if you are on a road, shoulder or unpaved part of the right of way unless you have a Texas hunting license with a reptile and amphibian stamp.  It is up to a $500 fine.  

This also includes your actions as a citizen scientist working with the TPWD Texas Nature Trackers (only on public roads).  That program is for private lands, not public areas or roadways.

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An Hour in the Bush and Look What I Found

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It rained hard earlier in the day which isn't exactly news.  It has rained almost everyday for over three months which is why we are 16 inches over the normal rainfall for the year.

Anyway, I was bored this afternoon so I grabbed the camera with the macro flash and prowled the bushes around the RV.  

Let me share a few of the shots I made such as the just mated pair of Sharpshooters, a type of plant hopper.

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Turtle Parade - They Have Been Marching Uphill All Month

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Last summer I wrote a blog about the absence of turtles.  I still do not see as many as in years ago, but I have seen more this year.  In particular, outside my window where I sit at my computer.  There is an almost daily stream of female Elegant Sliders Trachemys scripta looking for a good place to lay their eggs.  

I have taken at least a dozen of them out of the main area of the RV park and put them down towards the end of the populated area where they can lay their eggs in a place much more conducive to survival of the offspring.  

It does make me feel a bit better about the numbers, even though they are still low.  

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My Answer Was Based on Keen Logic, Years of Experience and Intensive Deductive Reasoning - Only Problem Is That It Was Absolutely Wrong

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I was recently asked why there were so many earthworms on the sidewalk lately.  I should add that it has been raining almost non-stop for about three months and we are more than a foot over the annual rainfall average.

I thought I came up with a very likely explanation.  I answered that the worms may be forced from the ground due to it being saturated with water keeping them from being able to breathe.  Sounds like a great reason and it was except for one thing.  It was not correct.

A little research quickly revealed that the worms come out of the ground after heavy Spring rainfall in an attempt to migrate.  The moisture on the ground and sidewalk allow them to have the ability to migrate faster and farther than they could underground.  Apparently they have a built in dispersal "need".  

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Ecology of My Yard - Who Knew So Many Things Lived Here?

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Walking in the woods is always a lot of fun.  Observing nature in such an environment presents a myriad of potential subjects to view, examine, photograph and to enjoy.  The biodiversity in the mature hardwood pine community where I walk is tremendous.  There are so many possibilities whether your purpose is to observe species interaction in the community or to measure the biomass of the forest or to observe the species diversity of the bird population or just to enjoy your stroll and see how many interesting subjects you can find for your camera.  The forest presents a wealth of opportunities for your study or enjoyment.  

It is to the woods that I often head when I am wanting to get close and enjoy nature or as we old hippies used to say "commune with nature".  Isn't that a cool phrase?  "Commune with nature".  What does that really mean?

To commune with nature, you become one with nature and attain knowledge of the things about you.  In particular you gain knowledge of the terrain, bodies of water, the plants, animal populations, people, weather and the general state of the setting.  It is not necessarily a conscious effort.  When you enjoy nature and are in the woods it is what comes naturally as you walk through the woods.  There are many different levels of that, of course. You may start with just a nice walk and make some natural observations: flowers, birds, scenic views and the like. The more you go, the more you observe and slowly the community comes alive. No pun intended.  

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