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.

OH! OH! That's My Favorite! NO! That one! Favorite Photos - 2016

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CarpenterBeeOnElliottsBlueberry030716 9
EasternBluebird11 29 16 1
FiveLinedSkinkFemale050316 3
GreatBlueHeronGlow111316 1
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Mockingbird 04 19 16 1
RedHeadedWoodpecker 073116 7
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Here are my personal favorite photos of 2016.

Bald Eagle Mother from last year's nesting pair

 

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If I Move - Will the Birds Follow Me?

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EasternBluebird11 2916 3
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PineWarbler11 28 16 2
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WhiteBreastedNuthatch11 2916 1

I recently moved my RV from a fairly good nature spot on Lake O' the Pines. I was near the northwest end of the lake and was on the edge of a remote wooded area. In addition, across the highway was another large wooded area. On my lot, I had a pretty good bird turnout year-round. Much of that due to my 9 feeders and lots of other food items that I put out for birds.

Surprisingly enough, it was not that great for waterbirds. Well, not for ducks anyway. There were Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, an occasional Green Heron, White Pelicans during the winter, Cormorants, and Common Coots. Rarely did I see ducks of any kind, other than the Coots. Common Loons which are very common on other parts of Lake O' the Pines were never seen in this more shallow and weedy end, nor were any of the other shore birds that show up on the south end of the lake.

In the late summer, I moved just eight miles away to Lone Star Lake (Ellison Creek Reservoir). This RV park is in a more populated area. There are no woods aound this lake. The park is surrounded by houses, as is almost all of the lake. There is a little bit of a more primitive area at the north end of the lake but it is fairly small.

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Why You Should Become a Texas Master Naturalist

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If you have any interest in nature, whether it is birds, wildflowers, kayaking, nature photography, hiking, or just love to be outdoors, you should consider joining Texas Master Naturalists. 

Texas Master Naturalist describes itself as a corp of well-informed volunteers to provide outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities for the State of Texas.  

Sounds like a governmental description, doesn't it? 

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Hey, Eagles! How Can I Take Your Picture if You Keep Flying Off the Nest? **A Rerun from 2015**

EaglesNestingRules

We put these guidelines out last year after so much interest in the eagle's nest and reports of other nests in the area. 

It is critical that if you find a Bald Eagle's nest (or any bird nest actually), that you follow these guidelines. Bald Eagles and most birds are VERY sensitive to activity around their nests. If you bother them, they may fly away and MAY NOT BREED THAT YEAR.  If there are eggs in the nest they may abandon them; they may even abandon young birds. 

PLEASE READ THESE GUIDELINES and if you find a nest, make sure that you follow the information that is written here. I will add a PLEASE to that. Please let the birds breed, nest and raise their young in peace.  You can observe, but read the information below so you know what you should and should not do. Again - PLEASE.  

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Who Do I Bill For My Self-imposed Photo Assignments?

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I have decided to create some self-imposed photo assignments for myself.  The whole reason for it is that we learn better when we are pushed a bit. Right now when I go take photos, I am an equal opportunity photographer. My aim may to see what birds are out or to look for butterflies. I likely start out with my telephoto in my hands. However, as I amble about, I may see bees around a nice flower and so my aim changes. I put on my Micro lens and may pull out my flash for fill light. Then I may see a delicate mushroom pushing through the moist earth. Then, I am down on my hands and knees or, sometimes, flat on my stomach to make the shot. When I walk a little further, I may crest a hill and there is a beautiful view of the lake and the piney woods behind it. So, then I am slipping on my wide angle and digging out my polarizer filter. I adjust to whatever the situation may require. So, is that a bad way to go taking pictures? Not at all. I love doing that and it is why I burden myself down with so many pieces of equipment on my walks.

These days, I am most likely to be walking with my 200-500 mm lens mounted on my main camera. Often, I have it mounted on my tripod and carry it over my shoulder. There are times, though when birds (or other subjects) are active and I may need to make some fast shots. Then I will have my camera in my hands and the tripod on a shoulder sling. In my holster is my second camera and it will usually have the 105 mm Micro lens attached. I can quickly pull it out of the holster when needed. In another pouch, I may have my 18-300 mm zoom or my 14 mm wide angle. In my pockets, I will likely have my flash, a 1.4 tele-converter, a remote shutter release, some filters (polarizer, ND. . . ), memory cards, extra battery and a few cleaning supplies (brush, micro cloth).

That is my "normal" gear. It does vary depending on what I am thinking about photographing. For example, if I am purposely going to be doing macro, then I might add a ring light, knee pads, reflector/diffuser, etc. With this gear, I am ready for most situations. Whatever pops up, flies over, crawls by or magically appears, I am equipped to get a decent shot.

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