Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Our First Class as a Texas Master Naturalist Intern

My husband and I are learning to be Texas Master Naturalists.

Our first class was held last Wednesday at Brazos Bend State Park in Needville, Texas. We spent the morning in classes and spent the afternoon taking a nature walk through part of the park. The head naturalist at the park, David Heinicke, taught the classes and led the nature walk.

In the morning, we learn about frogs, lizards, snakes, turtles, and...wait...what is that in Dave's hand?

Yep. It's a baby alligator. 
It is estimated that there are more than 250 alligators over 6' long at Brazos Bend.

In the afternoon, we set off for our hike.

Dave stops often to take a close look at things.
He gives us time to ask questions and write field notes.

If you look carefully, you can see Dave has a golden silk spider crawling on his hand.
Dave tells us this spider, which is commonly called a banana spider, spins a yellow web. 
Birds can see yellow well, and thus avoid flying through its web, but insects can't.

A golden silk waiting for prey.

One of our clever naturalist interns spots this baby alligator, probably one of the babies that was hatched at the nature center this summer and released last week. Only 2 or 3 out of every 100 alligators that hatch survives into adulthood, Dave tells us.

Dave shares a spiny orb weaver, commonly called a crab spider, that has adapted to have a very hard shell.

Dave tells us about bald cypress trees, the viceroy butterfly, bark lice, yellow-billed cuckoos, resurrection fern, Spanish moss, red buckeyes, mustang grapes...I think he knows everything about our part of the world.

I end up with twelve pages of notes. I am learning so much.

For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.

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  1. Wow! How very interesting! I think there might be some kind of classes similar to this in our area. Perhaps one day. We do have a lot of critters of all kind around us here. I've shown pictures of some of them. This year has been another with lots and lots of snakes - poisonous ones. Lots of dogs getting bitten. There are snake avoidance classes for the pooches. And I know to avoid those giant centipedes - they are yellow and red and pretty hard to kill. You kind of have to chop them up. We've had at least 3 around - 2 on the back porch and 1 in the garage. I had no issue with killing them as they are quite poisonous to us. Cute little alligators. About the size I could manage to be around. LOL

    1. I don't have a lot of fear of snakes or alligators. I don't know why.

  2. How cool is that? Looks like fun and informative.

  3. Should know what you are looking at when you go out for a walk in the woods now

    1. I can't wait until I can name everything. Or almost everything.

  4. What a great activity for you and your husband. It's got learning, hiking, nature, and more. Sounds like fun.

    1. He is enjoying it so much. I'm glad we can do it together.

  5. They just found a 15' gator in Central Florida about a week ago.

    It looked like a dinosaur!!

    Thanks for sharing!!

    - Lisa

  6. I just knew you would have fun in retirement! This sounds perfect.

  7. What is the goal. Will you soon become docents for the park?

  8. Must have been very interesting !

  9. This looks so interesting! I love learning about local flora and fauna as well. I'm glad we're missing gators and most poisonous snakes here in Oregon though. The yellow web, and its reason, are so cool!


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