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.

Bald Eagle Observations

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On my walk today, I had a bit of an adventure.  It was rather overcast and damp so I just walked along the lake.

I took some interesting pictures of a spider on the covered dock and a few "landscapes".  I just missed a Great Blue Heron but he was too skidish and didn't give me a chance to even raise the camera.  There was also a Phoebee but in the dim light, I just couldn't get a good shot as he did not sit still for long.

Just as I was heading back uphill to my RV, a large bird flew overhead towards the bridge on Hwy 155.  I saw a flash of white.  At first I thought it was a heron, maybe with a plastic bag stuck to his foot or with an abeherant white tail.  Then I saw the flight was not that on a heron.  I realized that it was the bald eagle that I have heard lived in the area, but who had avoided me for the four months I have been here.  

He landed on he concrete slope by the bridge as I moved back toward the parking lot by the lake to try to get a shot of him.  Then he flew straight to the twin cypress just outside of the little cove by the marina and landed about half way up. I was shooting with a 200mm lens in dim light and hand held.  I knew the images would not be good, but I was getting the best shot I could.  I slowly walked forward to the closest point, expecting him to fly off at any moment.  I managed to get all the way to the edge of the water, maybe 100 yards away.  He watched me the whole way. Perhaps attracted by my red shirt, but did not leave.  For about five minutes, I kept taking his picture, know that the images would not be very good as he was too far away for my 200mm lens and the light was quite dim.

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Where Are the Turtles?

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I can't believe that it is hard to find a turtle in Lake O' the Pines.  I can't believe that I can stand on the dock and not see lots of heads bobbing in the water.  

When I was a kid, turtles were everywhere.  If you went to any body of water, turrle heads would be easy to spot.  I go down to the dock and walk along the water almost every day, sometimes several times a day.  In four months of doing this, do you know how many turtles I have seen?  How many heads?  Absolutely NONE.  Not one single turtle.  That is incredible.  And sad.  

Somewhere back around 2006, I had a friend who was involved heavily with the Sierra Club, and she made me aware of the problems with the turtle populations being decimated by exporters.  Hundreds of thousands of turtles were being trapped and sent to China where they are a delicacy.  She even when to testify for the bill that banned commercial "fishing" for turtles on public land which passed in 2007.  Unfortunatley, due to my absence from the outdoors, I did not see firsthand the impact.  Now, I am absolutely astounded.  

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About the Photographs In This Blog

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Unless credited otherwise, all photographic images on this website were taken by me.  (EDITOR'S NOTE: This was true until the summer of 2015 when others began joining me.  Photos are all from the galleries of featured photographers on this website unless otherwise noted.)

I began taking photos in a semi-serious fashion when I was in the army.  I bought my first 35mm camera at the PX in Frankfort Germany in 1967.  It was an Petri.  About a year later I purchased an Asahi (Pentax) Spotmatic.  I took LOTS of pictures.

Later, when I returned to school, I started taking a lot of photographs of nature, especially on field trips.  I took lots of photos and slides.  

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OMG! I Have Become a Birder

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Not long after I got here, I put up a hummingbird feeder and a suet feeder.  I immediately had hummers, chickadees and Titmice.  Before long I had seen Red Headed Woodpeckers, Red Bellied Woodpeckers, Downey Woodpeckers, and a variety of other species.  

The next time I went to my storage unit, I dug out my bird books from my dozens of field guides.  Then I started boneing up on the ones I was seeing.

Of course,I prowled the internet looking for information on local birds.

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Why Start This Blog

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I guess the first thing I need to address is why?  Why am I starting this blog?

There are truly a number of reasons.  Let's just be organized and list them:

I have really enjoyed my "return" to nature and want an outlet for my adventure. I am a bit bored and really enjoy this (website development, writing, learning new things, etc.). In my relocation and walking away from my stressful, overworked previous life, I have few people to communicate with about such things as how beautiful the sunrise was or how cool it was to see a pair of summer tanagers. I don't know except that it sounds like fun.

There is a brief biography with this blog that tells about my background, education and how I came about to be here.  I won't go over all of that again, but will explain a little more about what I am doing.

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