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 an active member of the Cypress Basin Chapter of 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 recently relocated on 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.

BIG NEWS!!! The East Texas Naturalist Blog is Expanding.

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Coming very soon, the blog will include at least two other bloggers/photographers.  Others may be joining soon.  

Nature will remain the main focus, of course.  The two new bloggers are excellent photographers and will be such a tremendous addition to the site.  We will be looking for other photographers and writers to join us.  

That brings up the obvious invitation. 

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You Can Eat But Not You; Not You Either, Squirrel, Get Back - Selective Feeding

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When I decided to get some bird feeders, I really didn't put a lot of thought into it.  I just went to Walmart and grabbed a bunch on inexpensive feeders.  My main criteria at the time was cost, perceived effectiveness to attract birds, and ease to use. 

I ended up buying 1 hummingbird feeder in the traditional red and clear plastic, 4 plastic tube type of seed feeders, and 3 suet wire feeders.  Grand total was approximately $40, not including feed.

I started off attracting some interesting species: chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, cardinals, house finches, hairy woodpeckers and a red-bellied woodpecker.  Before long there was lots of activity on the feeders with the addition of cowbirds, mockingbirds, English sparrows and squirrels.  Lots of squirrels.  

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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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Get Back! No Pictures For You

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I try to have a picture with each of these little messages, blogs, stories or whatever they are, but this time I was not fast enough to take one.

I was grilling butterfly pork chops and turned to go back in the RV to get a plate when I saw a large bird out of the corner of my eye.  I looked up and there was a Pileated Woodpecker flying from one tree to another just about 100 feet away.  I stepped inside and grabbed my Nikon D60 with a 200 mm lens on it.  I walked slowly towards the tree but only got a few steps when he took off for the far beyond.  No chance to get a picture.

Hopefully I will get another chance.  I believe he came from the woods across the highway where I usually walk and perhaps I will catch up with him there soon.  I haven't been walking over there lately because of all the rain.  It is really muddy over there with the slightest rain.  With the nearly constant rain for the past 3 months, it is really sloppy over there.

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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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