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.

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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Yes, It's a Poor Workman Who Blames His Tools, But Better Tools Make the Work Easier and Allow More Options

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You can take good pictures with just about any decent camera but having nice equipment makes the process easier, adds more options, and generally produces better results.

I started off with a fixed lens Petri 35mm film camera, then later moved to a Asahi (Pentax) Spotmatic.  With both of those I was able to take nice pictures of people and scenic landscapes.  I tried very little real nature photography.  Neither camera was really suited to any kind of closeup work.  I added a 300mm lens which helped with some types of nature shots.  But it wasn't until many years later when circumstances changed and I was able to afford much better equipment and accessories.  My interest in photography and the results of my efforts made a major leap forward. 

Then after I got busy with so many other things (work), I slowly got rid of all that equipment.  

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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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Giant Wasp Spotted in Upshur County - The Time to Panic is NOW!

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I recently bought a macro ring flash for my cameras.  Naturally I have been playing with it.

I just wanted to share this picture that I took with it.  

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