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.

If you write about nature in east Texas and would like to join us here, please contact us.

Pelicans have arrived on Lake O' the Pines!

IMG 3761
IMG 4190
IMG 4226

All of them, dreary photos, really, except when you consider the subject matter and that this means we wll soon be seeing these massive birds overhead.  They will be on the "big" lake and in the creeks and channels. On sunny days and against a blue sky, they will create one of the most impressive sights you will ever see.  They will commingle with Double-crested Cormorants, herding fish together, all the while looking like great big pillows.  I am so happy that they are back!

This morning, as I made a pass through Lakeside before the sun came up, I did a double-take toward Hurricane Creek bridge.  I had to get my binoculars to confirm that what I first thought might be a small white boat was actually four American White Pelicans!  A little later overhead, I saw the familiar spiral pattern as a huge pod of pelicans circled overhead.  This is the earilest I have ever seen them on Lake O' the Pines.  This is not to say that they haven't arrived this early, but it does seem that every year I spot them earlier than the previous year. 

Great news, this, because they will be on the lake and at Caddo through this winter and close to April. When you stop to think about it, we get to enjoy them nearly half the year, and their arrival always signals the ascent into fall temperatures and turning leaves.  Winter won't be too far behind, but I believe that the sight of these beautiful birds floating on the chilly waters will make it easier to endure any inconvenient trade-offs that Mother Nature might bring. Keep your eyes peeled and get your cameras ready for some fantasic photo opportunities!  

Continue reading
Rate this blog entry:
3
798 Hits
0 Comments

Eaglet Update - It's Getting to be That Time Again!

Imm61916 3

I came across this photo the other day of an immature from about this time last year, spreading its wings and soaring over Lake O' the Pines.  

They've been here all along, but as cool, crisp temperatures arrive, we will be getting out on the lake more, and as all biridng activity picks up, there will be opportunities for more sightings.  Up close and personal sightings - not just the quick fly-bys of late.  

As I was crossing Alley Creek one day last week, seemingly out of nowhere a mature eagle flew from one side of the bridge to the other; I pulled over and watched as he circled the upper end.  In Lakeside Park another day, there was a huge Bald Eagle sitting in the once flourishing - but now very dead after the high water - pine tree at the end of the point by the Opsrey tower.  When the tree was alive and healthy, this was a favorite lookout for many birds, but most notably for eagles.  For years I would look there first, but it seemed like as the needles died, only the woodpeckers cared to frequent the branches.  I had gotten out of the habit of checking this tree, and this just goes to show that if you keep your eyes open, you never know what you'll see or where you'll see it.  Wow, and isn't that all just part of the beauty of nature? 

Continue reading
Rate this blog entry:
1
518 Hits
0 Comments

Eaglet Update - Elusive Sightings

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle 2
Bald Eagle 4

 

The Bald Eagle population, including immatures, is definitely active on Lake O' the Pines as we near fall.  We haven't been able to get shots from the water this past rainy month because of the obvious, including those  random outbursts that we've had almost daily. I can attest that there is activity because every time I've had a chance to go on foot to Lakeside Park, Alley Creek, or Hurricane Creek during this time, I've spotted at least one eagle.  From land, they are typically more evasive, so I have lots and lots of hurried shots as they navigate themselves to a place on the lake where I am not.   

One misty morning last week, I got a very distant photo of an immature eagle fishing in Hurricane Creek from Lakeside. They have a way of flying when hunting that is unmistakable.  It was too far away to be a decent image, but it did my heart good to see those massive wings beat above the water, circle, then go down for that split-second grab. Get ready. We have a lot to look forward to this fall around Lake O' the Pines.  

Rate this blog entry:
1
668 Hits
0 Comments

Eaglet Update - Trying to Stay Cool over Lake O' the Pines

untitled 3
Eagle Blog Pine Tree
untitled 5

Trudging in to the backside of Lakeside Park over the weekend, gear in tow. . . I hear the WHOOSH of a pair of very large wings.  Without a second to spare, I am able to grab my camera and get a shot of an immature Bald Eagle as it flies from the tree, sails over Brushy Creek, and crosses over the top of the dam.  High in the frame though it is, I was just lucky to get a focused image.  Can I be sure that it is one of the eaglets we watched as hatchlings to fledglings earlier this year?  No.  Do I believe that it probably is?  Yes!  

We were able to check the island where the nest is last week, and saw one of the parents hiding in the shade of the pine needles.  This insufferable heat is apparently hard on our feathered friends, too.  They are not any more likely than we are to be baking in the hot afternoon sun.  As we watched for a minute, I caught a glimpse of an immature eagle in the dense pine thicket.  As the heat lets up and we transition to fall and all the blessings that come with that marvelous time of year - cooler days being only one of them - I believe we will see our first-year eaglets, Liberty and Freedom, as they soar over this beautiful body of water we are so privileged to call home.  Bring it on.  

Rate this blog entry:
4
700 Hits
0 Comments

Eaglet Update - Independence

Eaglet 2
Eaglet Independence 4
Eaglet Independence 2
Eagle Independence 3

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!

Continue reading
Rate this blog entry:
1
747 Hits
0 Comments