Michael's Rediscovery of Nature

Ramblings and observations of a former biologist and a lifelong naturalist, who has recently returned to his roots in east Texas. After a many years of working from coast to coast in an industry far removed from biology, it has been a pleasant change of geography, activity, and attitude. No stressful job decked out in a three piece suit. No city living. Instead there is a rediscovery of the woods, of something scurrying through the leaves, of the clear notes of a bird call, and of reliving the joy that I had when nature was a playground and a classroom.

NANPAMichael is a former biologist and  Texas Master Naturalist.  Originally from Newsome, Texas (Between Pittsburg and Winnsboro), educated in Dallas & Garland schools, then off to the University of Texas system where he received a degree in biology and worked as a biologist with the University of Texas system. After many years away from nature and biology, he relocated to the banks of Lake O' the Pines where he has been rediscovering the joys of nature. He is somewhat surprised that he has become a birder. Most of his interest in nature was centered around reptiles. Perhaps just like birds evolved from reptiles starting in the late Jurassic, he has begun his own evolution. During his formal education, his interests in biology/nature grew to include community ecology and population studies, all with a binding of evolutionary processes. He liked birds, but they were secondary at best. All at once he finds them fascinating.

Hey, Eagles! How Can I Take Your Picture if You Keep Flying Off the Nest?

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Yesterday, Saturday the 5th of December, I went on a field trip with fellow Texas Master Naturalist, Kristi Thomas.  Kristi also publishes her photographs on this website as well as writing a blog here.  She is an outstanding photographer and a great contributor to this website. 

She had also invited members of NETFO (Northeast Texas Field Orinthologists - http://members.tripod.com/netfo_tx/) for an event at Lake O' the Pines.  Part of the trip included a boat ride to observe water birds and visit a nesting location for Bald Eagles.  

Seeing the eagles and their nest was a treat and we have had some minor discussion about the eagle's nest in our talk forum - http://easttexasnaturalists.com/forum/bird-sightings/45-bald-eagles-nest-on-lake-o-the-pines.html.  One of the things we talked about was the location of the nest.

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Shotgun Photography - Surely One of Those Pellets Will Hit

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There are many ways to practice the art of photography but to me there are two basic approaches with a wide variety of offshoots from those.  

I have referred to these techniques or styles as shotgun and sniper.  I have used both but honestly I have many, many more shotgun photos than I have as a sniper.  

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Aren't Ladybugs Cute? Not the Hoards of Them In My House!

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For all my life, the ladybug has had the image of one of the "good bugs"; a princess of insects.  We all played with them as kids and have seen them used in cartoons, advertising and even on toys and wallpaper for kids.  What a joyous bug and what a great reputation they have.  Ah.  There was even a nursery rhyme.

Ladybug ladybug fly away home,Your house in on fire and your children are gone,All except one and that's little Ann,For she crept under the frying pan.

Well, I don't have the same joyous feeling about them these days.  Like "little Ann" in the nursery rhyme, they have crept under the frying pan, behind the books, in every nook and cranny.  Not just a few, but rather dozens and dozens.  

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Kristi Mears Thomas
Michael, I love this! Such good information - thank you!
Thursday, 03 December 2015 05:47
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Yakety Yak - Don't Talk Back, Mockingbird

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Just a quick note this morning but I had to share it.

As usual, I started my day on my steps looking out over the lake watching the morning come alive; listening to the birds call; watching the egrets glide along the water looking for a place to feed; enjoying the cool air; and sipping my coffee.

There is a mockingbird that will sometimes land on my knee or on the little table next to me when I am sitting in my big chair by the feeders, especially if I have a bowl of mealworms. Today, he came and landed on one of the shepherds hooks and made some unusual calls. Then I made the little clucking sound that I make anytime the birds or squirrels come around. It is meant to be an identifying sound so they I am there (they don’t always notice me if I am still) and that they are safe around me. I have always done that and some of them respond to it – the squirrels will come get food; the birds just pose for me in a way.

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I Can See Clearly Now - How a New Lens Changes Perspective

Chickadee - Taken with new lens 18-300mm
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I added a new lens this week, a Nikon 18-300 Zoom  (AF-5 DX Nikkor 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR to be exact).

Naturally, I had to stick it on my camera and immediately start shooting.  The light conditions were not great for it was near dusk and most of my yard was in shadow.  However, the birds were active on my feeders so I sat on my steps and took a few shots.  

The Chickadee was kind enough to pose.  The picture of him, shown here was shot in aperture priority and handheld so it is a little soft, but it shows promise.  It shows what the lens is capable of doing.  

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