East Texas Naturalist Blog

Information and photographs mainly about nature in east Texas. Our authors have widely diverse backgrounds and write on a variety of topics.

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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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Freedom Rising?

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A few weeks ago, Beverly reported that Freedom had stopped eating, even though she was feeding her daily by hand. She finally determined that she might be depressed, and was able to move some other birds around and get her to a flight cage that let sunlight in.  (Can you even imagine having seventy some-odd injured, sick, and healing birds to look after, and the effort involved in keeping them all situated, fed, and comfortable?  I cannot.) Long story short, she was able to move Freedom; gradually her depression seems to have lifted, and her appetite has improved. Beverly says it's a good sign that she has enough spunk to bite her hand now! 

This is not an uncommon situation for birds with Avian Vacuolar Myelinopathy (AVM).  Freedom is far from being out of the woods and back to the wild, but there is hope that eventually she can shake this. Beverly related that she has a mature eagle in her care currently with AVM, and a few weeks back, it was if a switch had been turned and those scrambled neuronal circuits reconnected.  This condition is unpredictable, at best. 

Many thanks to Beverly for the valuable work that she does.  We hope to be able to visit her facility in the coming months, and in the meantime she has sent the best photo she could get of Freedom.  We know there is not a lot of time in her day for photo opps, so we appreciate this, too!

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