March 15, 2022

iNat Walk in Kilgore April 9th

In preparation for the City Nature Challenge, the East Texas Master Naturalist Chapter will be doing a series of practice walks to teach the public how to use the iNat app. I will be doing one in Kilgore on April 9th at 9am. We will be meeting in the parking lot of Creekside Trail.

Directions: In Kilgore, on S. Henderson Blvd, on the south end of Kilgore College, turn on Dudley Road. The trail is just past the golf course on the left. There is no roadside sign, so it's easy to miss if you're not paying attention. If you get to the gas station, you've gone too far.

Posted on March 15, 2022 02:07 by cosmiccat cosmiccat | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 01, 2022

The Park with Zero Observations

In my last entry, I talked about my plans to iNat the Sulphur River WMA on the Tx/Ar border. AGFC (Arkansas Game & Fish Commission) sent me a .kml of Sulphur River WMA so I could make it a place and generate a checklist. I uploaded the file today and the park has zero observations!

The ArkLaTex region has a tiny number of regular contributors, and the Arkansas portion gets the least attention, so I've been trying to encourage people to come out here and make observations. We have a lot of empty spaces on the iNat map. If you can, come out the Sulphur River WMA and post something, even if it's just a pine tree or a blue jay. Let's fill up those empty spaces!

Posted on February 01, 2022 01:26 by cosmiccat cosmiccat | 3 comments | Leave a comment

January 31, 2022

Alex Smith County Park on the TX/AR Border

I find a lot of new places to explore by looking on Google maps, and I recently found Alex Smith County Park in Miller County, AR.

It's about an hour and ten minutes from where I live in Longview, TX, and a few minutes outside of Atlanta, TX. I went mostly to check out the fishing lake and the hiking trails. Unfortunately, the lake was too shallow for fishing, but a park visitor told me that it's usually much deeper; the area is going through a dry spell. The man introduced himself as Gary and told me that the land surrounding the park is public land that stretches for miles. I asked, "Oh, is it a park? What's it called?" He said he didn't know.

I looked it up when I got home and it's the Sulphur River WMA.

If you look on that map for a road named Smith Park Access, that little square cut out is Alex Smith Park. Gary told me that are very few trails in there (the WMA), but the trees are wide apart, so hiking is easy. He also said that the county has been trying hard to attract visitors to Smith Park, and just opened showers and restrooms for campers, know what to do. Go iNat it!

I want spend some time this year at Smith Park and the adjoining WMA since it's not far. The WMA will be a challenge to iNat because of the lack of trails; I'll be tromping through the woods with my GPS and map.

There is another WMA a few miles from that location---LaFayette County WMA.
I'm going to try visiting that one, too.

Edit 01-31-2022

The people at the AGFC were kind enough to send me a .kml file of Sulphur River WMA so I can generate a checklist. Aweseome!

Posted on January 31, 2022 04:24 by cosmiccat cosmiccat | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 11, 2022

A Mosquito Book

The last time I went to the city library, I found a copy of Mosquitoes of the Southeast.,7164.aspx

I looked through the book and it seemed easy to use because the keys are illustrated, which helps with confusing technical language. I thought, I could borrow this book when the mosquitoes come back and try identifying some. I read online about mosquito sampling methods and the preferred one is to use yourself or a volunteer as human bait, which I'm not willing to do. My body likes to overreact to bug bites. I decided that I'll get a mosquito trap, hang it up overnight, and identify them the next morning.

Posted on January 11, 2022 02:08 by cosmiccat cosmiccat | 2 comments | Leave a comment

December 25, 2021

A very fungal Christmas for me. ;p

When you begin to study mycology, you quickly realize that you need a microscope to work through the keys, which will ask you to check for you to check for things like the shape of the spores. For Christmas, I bought myself a couple of cheap used microscopes from eBay---a dissecting or stereo microscope, useful for examining large things like beetles, seeds, and lichens, and a compound microscope for examining fungal spores.

I got the stereo microscope in yesterday and have used it to look at beetles and lichens. Those lichen keys are easy to work through once you've got the right equipment. I don't know when the other one will come in. It's currently sitting in a post office in Mumbai, according to the tracker.

To examine fungal spores, not any microscope will work. You need one with a x1000 oil immersion lens. This page explains how to use it to look at mushroom spores:

Posted on December 25, 2021 03:54 by cosmiccat cosmiccat | 2 observations | 3 comments | Leave a comment

December 14, 2021

My Planned 2022 Adventure: Texas Hill Country

One of my naturalist goals is to iNat all the ecoregions in Texas and Arkansas. Earlier this year I went to Brownsville, Tx, and Hot Springs, AR. Next year it's the hill country. Johnson City in April, to be exact.

Planned stops:

Pedernales Falls State Park

Longhorn Caverns

Blanco State Park for a day of fishing!

Enchanted Rock

I may not get to see everything, but that's the plan. Later in the year I want for a weekend in one of the cabins at Crowley's Ridge SP in AR.

Almost all of my family is in nearby Jonesboro, so I can see them and this park at the same time. :-)

Posted on December 14, 2021 23:27 by cosmiccat cosmiccat | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 06, 2021

A new City Nature Challenge team for Texas!

The East Texas Master Naturalist Chapter has formed a new team for the 2022 City Nature Challenge. It covers the Longview-Tyler area and the following counties:

Van Zandt

Please join us!

Posted on December 06, 2021 01:48 by cosmiccat cosmiccat | 2 comments | Leave a comment

October 19, 2021

TPWD Video on microfish!

Nice to see this promoted by TPWD! I went microfishing today and got a mosquitofish. I would have caught more species, but then I fell into the creek and had to go home to change clothes. ;p

Posted on October 19, 2021 21:48 by cosmiccat cosmiccat | 1 observation | 1 comment | Leave a comment

October 17, 2021

Longview is Getting a New Park

Longview is turning Lake Lomond into a park that will include a paved trail, a kayak rental, and a fishing pier. The trail should open in a year, and I can't wait to see it. :-)

I'm glad that this lake will soon be open to the public. As long as I've lived here, it's been fenced off and used as an illegal garbage dump. Longview and Gregg County are in desperate need of green spaces, and we don't have anything like this.

In fact, I am going to plan a little one-day bioblitz when it opens. Since it will be a year from now, I don't have anything in particular planned yet, other than it will be on a Saturday. I hope that we can show the city that east Texans do care about nature and want things like this.

@sambiology Maybe you'll come out here for that? :-)

Posted on October 17, 2021 23:56 by cosmiccat cosmiccat | 1 comment | Leave a comment

October 10, 2021

Explore the Pineywoods: Jim Hogg Park

Today I visited a new park today---Jim Hogg Park in Rusk, TX.

I looked up this park a few days ago and saw that it only had 14 observations, all made a few years ago, so I had to iNat this place. Jim Hogg Park is the birthplace of its namesake, and his parents are buried here. There is a museum, a playground, picnic tables, and a nature trail.

The trail mostly wanders through flowery fields and groves of pine trees. The fields were mostly goldenrod, camphorweed, foxglove, and soft goldenaster. These fields were full of butterflies, bees, and wasps. I tried to photograph as many pollinators as I could, but didn't manage to get many. I would like to go back here in the spring to see what kind of flowers there will be then.

The park is big enough to take multiple trips to explore, so I'd definitely recommend it, especially since it needs more data.

I encourage everyone to find a local park that needs more iNat data and go exploring!

Posted on October 10, 2021 23:59 by cosmiccat cosmiccat | 1 comment | Leave a comment