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.
Michael 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 and then to Lone Star Lake 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. More

My Favorite Photos From 2018

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Usually, I post the photos in a blog but this year I have made a video instead. For me, it has been a fantastic year on so many levels. I have been so lucky with the opportunities that have been given me with the birds and other natural subjects. 

Living on the edge of Lone Star Lake gives me so many photography targets and makes it so easy to get "out there".  Of course, I'm only minutes from Lake O' the Pines as well. It is a quick run down the highway to get into a great birding area on LOP. Somehow, I manage to get over there fairly often as well.

Of course, I go other places. One of the more fun trips birding this year was going with the Tyler Audubon Society to Mineola. If I remember correctly we saw 60 species that day. 

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The Answer to What to do When It's Too Cold to Go Out & Take Pictures

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It was a beautiful, sunny morning and, as usual, I was going to go out to sit in my chair by the lake. That's where I try to spend at least a little time each morning, sitting with my camera and binoculars.  The birds are always active to some extent plus it is just a peaceful way to start the morning. I opened my door as the coffee was brewing if "brewing" is the right word for coffee in a Keurig.  

Despite the bright sun and clear sky, the air was cold, not chilly, COLD. Those who know me understand that I am not really put off by cold and rarely really let it bother me. They've all seen me running around in short-sleeved shirts half the winter. This morning, though, it just seemed too cold for my usual attire or to even go sit by the water, birds or not. There was just a slight breeze. Just enough to make it a bit uncomfortable with the temperature in the '20s. Well, the upper '20s but that is still pretty cold in a breeze by the water.  

So, the first thought was "Nah". Not today." I looked out again. Not a bird in sight. I listened and heard a Carolina Wren calling in the distance but that was all. Nah. Then, I thought "Well, just for a minute. Let me go look around for just a minute."

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"My" Belted Kingfisher Is a Photography Expert

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Anyone who knows me probably is aware that I have a pair of Belted Kingfishers that I have been trying to photograph for over two years. These birds are my photographic nemesis.

While I see them frequently, I rarely get a "shot" at them with my camera. They normally are quite aware of my presence and, at first, I thought they were really shy/apprehensive. Through time I have decided that it is more nefarious than that. 

Let me explain that. 

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I Saw the Greatest Nature Show Ever (And Not on TV)

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I have always been a big fan of nature shows on TV. My DVR records them daily. This morning I got to see the greatest nature show that I've ever seen. My DVR didn't record this one, but it is recorded where it will never be forgotten.

Many of my mornings start sitting in a comfortable chair about thirty feet from the edge of Lone Star Lake, my binoculars on my chest, a cup of coffee on the picnic table beside me, and my camera in my lap. It certainly was not an ideal morning for photography with cloudy, overcast skies but you can't choose the weather. 

This morning I was watching as a couple of Double-crested Cormorants flew by. Then the season's first American Coots showed up. The usual neighborhood birds were feeding on my feeders and calling from all around.

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Birding is HOT During the Summer - Is that a cliche?

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Summer is not really the most popular time for birding in East Texas. There are likely two reasons for that.

First and not surprisingly, East Texas summers are HOT. That definitely affects us birders. It really is not quite as much fun to get out in the woods when the temperature is in the 90's and the humidity close to the steam setting. 

The second factor is due to the birds themselves. By the time that the summer heat arrives, the Spring migrators have mostly gone further north, leaving just the local species - the ones that we are mostly used to seeing. Of course, they aren't crazy about the heat either.

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