Monday, December 30, 2013

A Look Back.

Well, the year is almost gone and time to take a look back at Texas Nature for 2013. From an online perspective it has not been a great year.
  • I have not posted nearly enough, and I hope to correct this in 2014.
  • My Facebook page was one year old on December 29th, but has not had the traffic I had hoped for.
  • On a positive note, I began work on my Texas Nature Website, which I hope to have online in the next couple of months.
 From an real life perspective it has been a good year. At first I started to say that it was not a great year, but when I looked back at all the trips I have made, I realize that I had a fairly active year. Here is a list of all the places I visited in 2013.
  • Both Pitcher Plant Trail and Sundew Trail of The Big Thicket National Preserve.
  • Cattail Marsh in Beaumont, Texas
  • McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge
  • Roy E. Larsen Sandyland Sancturary
  • Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Park
  • Tony Houseman State Park/Wildlife Management Area
  • Pleasure Island, Port Arthur, Texas
  • Shangri La Botanical Garden and Nature Center
  • Texas Point National Wildlife Refuge
  • Sea Rim State Park
And these places I visited for the first time.
  • Village Creek State Park
  • J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area
  • Both the Old River Unit and Nelda Stark Unite of The Lower Neches Wildlife Managemnet Area
  • Armand Bayou Nature Center
  • Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge
  • Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge
  • Nature trail at San Jacinto Battleground State Park. 
I also saw several wild animals for the first time, including -
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Crested Caracara
  • Numerous other bird I still need to positive ID on
  • Broad-banded Water Snake
  • Feral Hogs
  • White-tail Deer
  • Bobcat which I would have to say was my favorite.
Overall it has been a good year and I have high hopes for 2014.
My plans for the new year.
  • Blog more consistently.
  • Update my social media page more.
  • Finish work on my Texas Nature Website
  • Possibly merge my Wildflowers of Texas Blog and Texas Nature Blog and move to there own domain.
Goodbye until next year and please vistit my other sites.
Texas Nature on Facebook
Texas Nature on Google +
Wildflowers of Texas

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cattails and a Cat's Tails

Cattail Marsh in Beaumont, Texas is named after the abundant Cattail plants (Typha sp.) that grow in the marsh. In addition to the Cattails and other plants, it is also home to a wide variety of wildlife, including Alligators and numerous species of birds. On this visit I would discover a resident, that I have never seen before in the wild.
While walking along one of the roads that border the individual cells of the marsh, I notice a gray shape at the edge of the high grass. It looked like it might be an animal but I wasn't sure, so I pointed the camera and zoomed in. I was amazed to see a Bobcat ( Lynx rufus ), laying in the grass, and watching me. When I began to try to move a little closer, it ducked down, trying to be a little less obvious. Eventually I got too close and it ran for cover, but I was thrilled to have seen my first wild Bobcat.

Cattails at Cattail Marsh, Beaumont, Texas

Bobcat keeping an eye on me.

Bobcat - Lynx rufus

Bobcat attempting to hide.

Bobcat shows me a cat's tail.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Armand Bayou Nature Center Part 2

I ended my last post about The Armand Bayou Nature Center at the Interpretive Building. Entering this building you will find various reptiles and amphibians on display. On the outside you can choose from several  paths to other areas of the nature center, that branch out from this central location. Next to the Interpretive Building is a bird blind, with feeders, fountain and bath. The trail heads for the three main hiking trails is located here also.

Bird Blind 

Viewing wall of bird blind.

Bird blind interior viewing area.

Fountain and pond, viewed from bird blind.

Trail heads.

Armand Bayou Nature Center trail map.
Armand Bayou Nature Center trail map.
The three main trails are the 1.32 mile Martyn Trail, the 1.38 mile Karankawa Trail and the 1.5 mile Lady Bird Trail. On this visit I walked the Martyn and Lady Bird trails. Even though I am a novice hiker, I found both of these trails easy. On both the trail I walked were many downed and broken trees, that provide evidence of the damage done by Hurricane Ike in 2008.

Martyn Trail
  • Martyn Trail is 1.32 miles in length
  • Loop Trail
  • Has a Scenic Bayou Overlook
  • Wildlife Viewing Platform
  • Access to the Boat House 

Uprooted tree at  Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Tree uprooted by Hurricane Ike

Fallen trees at  Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Fallen trees provide hiding places and homes for wildlife.

 Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Decomposers like worm, bacteria and fungi will gradually break down these tree, where they will add important nutrients the the soil.

Martyn Trail at Armand Bayou Nature Center.
View along Martyn Trail.

Martyn Trail at Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Martyn Trail

Martyn Trail at Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Martin Trail

Overlook sign at Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Trail Sign

Overlook at Armand Bayou Nature Center.
View from the Bayou Overlook

Armand Bayou Nature Center
Cormorant seen from the Bayou Overlook

Trail sign, Armand Bayou Nature Center
There is a Wildlife Observation Platform along the Martyn Trail.

Armand Bayou Nature Center wildlife observation platform.
Wildlife Observation Platform, Martyn Trail.

Armand Bayou Nature Center
View from observation plantform.

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Life Bird

I went out this morning to see what new wildflowers I could find blooming. But instead of finding wildflowers I spotted a Crested Caracara, which is a life bird for me. I rushed the shots trying to make sure I didn't miss, so there not that great, but at least I got it. Caracaras are do nest in the area, but are uncommon, so I was really excited to see it.

Crested Caracara

Crested Caracara

Crested Caracara

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Armand Bayou Nature Center Part 1

The next series of posts will be about my recent visit to Armand Bayou Nature Center in Pasadena, Texas. This was my first visit to Armand Bayou Nature Center, but it will not be my last. There are three main trails each a little over a mile long, with the longest at 1.5 miles.
After paying, you begin by exiting the back of the admission building where you will see the Hawk display. From the hawk display follow the boardwalk as it twists it's way through the woods and over a pond. There is a covered deck at the pond, that allows viewing of wildlife, while protected from the sun. Following the boardwalk the it's end, you will come to the Education (Interpretive) Building that has live animal displays, such as turtles and snakes. The Education Building serves as a sort of cross-road to all the other activities found at Armand Bayou Nature Center. I will write more about my visit in the next posts.
Armand Bayou Nature Center
Sculpture at the entrance road. 

Armand Bayou Nature Center
Close-up of Sculpture

Armand Nature Center entrance
Entrance to Armand Bayou Nature Center

Armand Bayou Nature Center Map
Map posted near the entrance to the nature center.

Hawk House at Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Hawk House, Admission Building in the background.

Hawks at Armand Bayou Nature Center

Boardwalk at Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Boardwalk leading from the Admission Building to the Interpretive Building. 

Marsh Rabbit, Sylvilagus palustris
This Marsh Rabbit, (Sylvilagus palustris) ran from under the boardwalk as I was going by.

Pond ant Armand Bayou Nature Center
Pond along boardwalk.

Pond and boardwalk at Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Pond and Boardwalk.

Covered observation deck at Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Covered observation deck overlooking the pond. 

Irises at Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Iris growing at the pond's edge.

Spanish Moss covered Oak Trees at Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Spanish Moss clinging to oak trees.

Interpretive Building at Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Interpretive Building at the end of the boardwalk trail.

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