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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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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I Used to Be a Former Biologist. Wait, Wait. What Does That Mean?

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From the beginning of this blog I have referred to myself as a "former" biologist.  I may or may not edit the places that say this for my status has somewhat changed.  I have been doing some consulting for a couple of land owners as a biologist.  In a minor way that changes my status from "former" to "current".  Well, I think that is true even if, as in these cases, I am doing this as an unpaid service.  It is still biological work.  

Actually, what I have been doing is making some biological surveys of two tracks of mixed hardwood forest in Upshure county.  The land owners want an idea of what animals are found on their property and some idea of the size of the populations.  In particular, they want to know about deer, hogs, coyotes, and beaver. 

Both of these surveys are rather informal.  They just want a general idea.  That is a whole different process than doing an actual population study.

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What Do You Mean They Reproduce Without Males?

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While Googling for some information tonight, I got sidetracked and searched for an old "friend".  Well, it is a lizard, but I am sure you know what I mean.  Anyway, I discovered a link to an old paper that I co-authored years ago.

It was fun to see the old paper again and to remember how we traveled to Laredo in the heat of summer to collect some specimen of Laredo Striped Whiptail lizards, Cnemidophorus laredoensis, for the study.  

Trying to catch these lizards is not easy under any circumstances.  They are extremely fast and evasive and the hotter it is they more fired up they are.  On the day we spent in Laredo collecting them, it was extremely hot and very humid.  

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