יוני 18, 2021

Are you ready for the Odolympics?

The Dragonfly Society of the Americas is holding an Odonate (dragonfly and damselfly) bioblitz starting this Saturday, June 19th, through Sunday, June 27th. The event takes place over the entire western hemisphere. My local Texas Master Naturalist chapter had a practice run last week and we had a lot of fun!

To participate in the Odolympics, you MUST have an Odonata Central account. After registering, you can import your iNat observations to the OC website.

Event details here: https://www.odonatacentral.org/odolympics/#/

פורסם ב יוני 18, 2021 02:24 לפנה"צ על־ידי cosmiccat cosmiccat | 3 תצפיות | 0 comments | הוספת תגובה

ינואר 16, 2021

Can you find this Arkansas Plant?

@theo_witsell has published a new book, Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines of Arkansas. In this video by The Ozark Society, Theo talks about some rare plants in his book. One of them is the American Barberry, which wasn't known to exist in Arkansas until Theo found a museum specimen collected in 1888. Theo hopes that people will go out and try to find it. Wouldn't it be cool if an iNat user was to find one? I know I'm going to make more trips to Arkansas to look for it! I plan on making a weekend trip to Hot Springs National Park this spring to look for plants!

Watch the video: https://www.facebook.com/The-Ozark-Society-105080184374291/videos/405297544225384

Support Theo Witsell by buying his book here: https://www.uapress.com/product/trees-shrubs-and-woody-vines-of-arkansas/?utm_campaign=Social%20Promotion&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook&utm_term=Trees%20Shrubs%20and%20Woody%20Vines%20of%20Arkansas&fbclid=IwAR20jfvHIuqcT7cObzpns3iOZ0TuEjv4TdJSrMflLEPRd5SZBCf0DURrEsI

פורסם ב ינואר 16, 2021 10:53 אחה"צ על־ידי cosmiccat cosmiccat | 0 comments | הוספת תגובה

ינואר 06, 2021

Arkansas Fish Bioblitz!

I'm posting this here for the people who don't follow the Biodiversity of Arkansas project. I am having an Arkansas fish bioblitz this year! Whoever posts the most wild Arkansas species in 2021 will win a free Mystery Tackle Box! Details: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/biodiversity-of-arkansas/journal/45234-arkansas-fish-bioblitz

פורסם ב ינואר 06, 2021 02:17 לפנה"צ על־ידי cosmiccat cosmiccat | 0 comments | הוספת תגובה

דצמבר 31, 2020

New Trail Section in Kilgore, TX

Recently Kilgore opened an additional mile on the Bighead Creek Trail aka Creekside Trail. I like this new section because it winds through a hardwood forest with giant monster trees, while the older one goes through a more "developed" area. The dominant native trees are southern sugar maple, hophornbeam, hornbeam, and various oaks. Some of those oaks are among the biggest I've seen in this area.

This trail has all the elements I look for in a good mushroom hunting ground: a large variety of trees, old giant trees present, and it's a low-lying wet area.

Unfortunately, I found an invasive species that I haven't seen in this area before, the thorny olive. I discovered the remains of an old homestead: a piece of a wall made with a particular brick that was popular in the 30s, an old cement garden urn, a rusted old-timey bicycle, and more. That, along with the presence of a large number of popular landscape plants (Chinese privet, nandina, Chinese photinia, common ivy, Chinese holly, etc.) make me think the original land owner planted some thorny olives in a garden, and it later multiplied like crazy.

As the park name suggests, the trail follows a creek. I hiked along it looking for fishing spots, but it's too shallow to contain anything other than microspecies (teeny tiny fish like darters). When it warms it warms up in the spring, I'm going to put on my waders, grab my dip net, and see what kind of critters I can find.

פורסם ב דצמבר 31, 2020 03:10 לפנה"צ על־ידי cosmiccat cosmiccat | 1 comment | הוספת תגובה

אוקטובר 25, 2020

The Northeast Texas Trail: De Kalb

Yesterday I visited another stop on the Northeast Texas Trail---De Kalb. https://netexastrail.org/trail-maps/avery-to-dekalb-tc/

I parked at the De Kalb City Park, which is beside the trail, and waited for the drizzling rain to let up. It was a nice little park with a pond in the back, which means next time I'll have to bring my fishing pole and dip net to see what's in that pond. It'll be nice to come back in the spring and see what kind of dragonflies I can find, too.

I then walked on the trail, heading west toward Avery. The trail was nice and smooth, good for taking my mountain bike next time. I was alone except for a pair of cowboys riding their horses. The trail starts out as a mowed grassy lawn, and after passing the lumber yard, turns into a thicket of evil privet and Persian silk tree, and then finally into a native forest.

The next stop is Avery, a tiny town of about 450 people. There is no trail yet going west to the next stop, Annona, so I will walk east back toward De Kalb. Avery has a little park with a lake, which I will have to check out.

פורסם ב אוקטובר 25, 2020 03:59 אחה"צ על־ידי cosmiccat cosmiccat | 3 תצפיות | 0 comments | הוספת תגובה

אוקטובר 20, 2020

The Northeast Texas Trail: Farmersville

The Northeast Texas Trail is a 130 mile long trail that is under construction. https://netexastrail.org/ It stretches from Farmersville, near Dallas, to the New Boston, in the northeastern corner of Texas. It was once an abandoned rail line that is being turned into a trail. The trail committee wants the state to turn it into one long state park when it is finished.

I've traveled along the New Boston section, which only has a couple of miles finished. On Sunday, I went to the opposite end, Farmersville. Since it is going to eventually be a state park, I think it would be useful to document what is already there. I know I can't document the whole 130 miles, but I'd to eventually visit each stop along the trail. Many of the stops are in tiny towns with very few observations.

I spent all afternoon in Farmersville and made a little under 100 observations, mainly the most common species like poison ivy and the American crow. It's what I do the first time I make a sweep of a place. I wish I could have afforded to book a hotel for the night, because there are other nature things to do in the area like visit Lavon Lake.

Later this week, I plan on going to the DeKalb section, which is much closer to Longview.

פורסם ב אוקטובר 20, 2020 11:36 אחה"צ על־ידי cosmiccat cosmiccat | 2 תצפיות | 4 comments | הוספת תגובה

אוקטובר 18, 2020

The Stephen F. Austin Experimental Forest

Today was the first day of my vacation. It's actually a staycation because 1). I can't afford to book a hotel 2). coronovirus. Today I went back to the SFA Experimental Forest in Nacogdoches, TX. https://srs.fs.usda.gov/4159/experimental-forests/stephen-f-austin/

I found it a couple of weeks ago while exploring Nacogdoches. After my first visit, I uploaded my observations and was surprised to see that the forest only had one observation before I uploaded mine. That's weird, because Nacogdoches has a lot of observations.

I found some plants that I haven't seen before, such as Strawberry Bush and Single-stem Bog Aster. I'd like to explore some more in the spring, when there will different plants and butterflies around.

I'm not sure where I will go next. I think I'll ride around on the Northeast Texas Trail some more.

פורסם ב אוקטובר 18, 2020 03:46 לפנה"צ על־ידי cosmiccat cosmiccat | 3 תצפיות | 0 comments | הוספת תגובה

מאי 16, 2020

The Social Distance Biobltiz at Gus Engeling

I recently did the May Socially Distant Bioblitz. https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/socially-distant-bioblitz-5-3-2020 I choose Gus Engeling WMA because I wanted to see their pitcher plant bog. It has a newly discovered, endangered dragonfly called the Sarracenia Spiketail. https://texasnongameprogram.wordpress.com/2016/02/09/texas-rarest-dragonflies-closely-tied-to-rare-natural-community-pitcher-plant-bogs/

Unfortunately, I didn't find the pitcher plant bog. It's not marked on the park map and I didn't see any signs for it. I picked a spot where I thought it might be, a swampy area along Catfish Creek. I parked my car and started taking photos of the weeds nearby. I could see lots of large white birds in the distance through the trees and heard squawking. I walked toward the birds and turned a corner on the trail. It was an ibis rookery! There were too many of them to count, and many were flying back and forth with sticks for their nests. I thought it was odd that I the birds didn't fly away as I approached. Later I looked up the white ibis on Google, and they're so protective of their sticks and their spot that the pair won't leave them unguarded unless they really have to. However, they will happily steal sticks from other ibises if they can. Silly birds.

I took a few pictures of the birds, then walked back because I was worried that staying there too long might disturb the birds too much.

I went back to look for the pitcher plants the next week and still didn't find them, but I had a lot of fun photographing flowers that I don't get to see in the Longview area. The first time I went, the nearly two hour drive didn't bother me, but it did the second time. I suddenly got a migraine and had to make the long drive back in a lot of pain. I want to go back in the spring, but book a hotel for the weekend so I don't have to drive so much, and I have a place nearby to rest if I get too hot, too tired, or sick.

There is another global social distance bioblitz on May 24, Memorial Day Weekend. https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/socially-distant-bioblitz-5-24-2020 I plan to go to White Oak Creek WMA because it's much closer and only has 28 observations! https://www.inaturalist.org/places/white-oak-creek-wma Most of those were done by researchers for the Fishes of Texas project.

פורסם ב מאי 16, 2020 02:34 לפנה"צ על־ידי cosmiccat cosmiccat | 4 תצפיות | 0 comments | הוספת תגובה

דצמבר 15, 2019

Flipping Logs at Mission Tejas

I've recently started watching the NKF Herping channel on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/NKFherpsandgames and was inspired to go outside and flip some logs in search of salamanders. Yesterday I went to Tejas Mission State Park in Alto, TX, to watch a presentation on hibernation to earn an AT credit for Texas Master Naturalist. The presentation was in the morning, and afterwards I ate my lunch and headed to the pond area to look for salamanders. I flipped countless logs, but no salamanders. I did find a couple of cute leopard frogs and lots of invertebrates.

Would I flip logs again, even though I didn't find any salamanders? You bet! It was fun seeing what little critters I could find.

פורסם ב דצמבר 15, 2019 10:42 אחה"צ על־ידי cosmiccat cosmiccat | 4 תצפיות | 2 comments | הוספת תגובה

נובמבר 10, 2019

Galveston Island: It's For the Birds!

Last month, I went on a birding trip to Galveston Island State Park. https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/galveston-island

I took a week off and headed down there on a Tuesday---Monday was Columbus Day and I knew the park would be super crowded on a holiday weekend. When I started out, it was raining in Longview because a cold front was coming through. As I drove south, I got ahead of the front and the weather was sunny and in the 90s. I walked along the free public beach to collect seashells and photograph birds until it was time to check in to the hotel.

Late that evening, the cold front arrived in Galveston. The next morning was overcast, raining, and 20 degrees cooler. I wasn't going to let the rain keep me from watching the birds. I drove to the state park and did some birding by car. The park was empty except for a young couple fishing and an elderly couple also birding by car. The birds were used to tourists, so I could put my car in park next to a bird, roll down the window, and get good close-ups. Later there was a temporary reprieve from the rain, so I walked down a trail.

One thing I was determined to do on this trip was to catch at least one saltwater fish, so I gave it a try the next day. There was a problem: I did not understand that 70 degrees in Galveston is not the same as 70 degrees in Texas. The wind blowing off the ocean made it feel much colder. I saw the locals wrapped up in coats, scarves, and hats, and wish I had brought warmer clothes. All I had brought were t-shirts and thin pants. I had a rain jacket with me so I had at least some warmth and protection from the drizzling rain.

Putting on my rubber boots, I was determined to catch a fish in the park's salt marsh. I was shivering. I told myself I would catch just ONE fish and go back to the warm car. I got that one fish, the gulf toadfish, and went back to my heated car.

My last stop before I went home was East End Lagoon Nature Preserve. http://www.eastendlagoon.org/ It's a small park, a saltwater marsh area dotted with palm trees and prickly pear cactus.

Despite the fact that it was chilly and rainy, I had a lot of fun and didn't want to go back home. I saw a lot of birds that are new to me, like the Roseate Spoonbill and Ruddy Turnstone. I saw a lot of coastal plants and identified them with the help of iNaturalist's Galveston County checklist.

I want to go back again in a couple of years. The state park's beach was closed due to renovations and won't open again until then. I was to see more birds and catch way more fish.

פורסם ב נובמבר 10, 2019 03:27 לפנה"צ על־ידי cosmiccat cosmiccat | 4 תצפיות | 1 comment | הוספת תגובה