Pictures of Life in South Texas

Here in South Texas, our winters are very short and we seem to leap right into spring in January. Here are some pictures of my year so far…

AK Shoot Feb 16

Drew finally got his AK-47 so we took it to the range to try it out.  I still prefer the AR-15 because it has a collapsible stock.  We’ve found our new favorite indoor shooting range: Point Blank Sporting Goods in McAllen.  It’s brand new and really spacious.  You don’t feel like you are right on top of everyone while shooting.

Green Jay Feeding Collage

I love Green Jays.  Just like their Corvid brothers and sisters, Green Jays are so smart.  This one found a weakness in the sunflower feeder and exploited it.  Sunflower seeds came pouring out.  The doves on the ground appreciated his hard work.


A banded Kiskadee at Ruby Pond.  My goal is to one day be able to read all the numbers on a band one day so I can report them to the Bird Banding Laboratory.


My first work trip!  We got to go see some nature centers and museums in Dallas!  This was the Trinity River Audubon Center.  Nice walking trails and boardwalks, and great indoor exhibits.  ???????????????????????????????

I also got to see a Rodin sculpture at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas.  I wish we had more time to explore the whole museum but we had to rush through it.


The Dallas Arboretum (which is really a Botanical Garden) was incredible and it was only January!  I would love to go back in spring or fall.???????????????????????????????

We finished out duck season and I got a Scaup for the wall!  Oakley is good retriever, even if he does chew the butt’s off.  I miss duck hunting already.  And its been too windy to get out in the boat for fishing.???????????????????????????????

Our resident Eastern Screech Owl at work picked a very visible cavity for a month or so and let me take a few pics.???????????????????????????????

I kind of stumbled upon this gathering on a house in Mission, across the street from a city park and pond.  These Black-bellied Whistling Ducks seem to prefer this one flat roof as opposed to all the sloping roofs in the neighborhood!???????????????????????????????

Our staff member who was filling the feeders had to run inside for a minute and the Chachalacas took advantage of a container of homemade suet that was left unattended!???????????????????????????????

The Red-eared Slider in Ruby Pond has gotten so big!  We don’t know exactly where he came from but he seems to enjoy having the pond to himself.???????????????????????????????

I love the call of the Curve-billed Thrasher!  And the look of their orange eyes and big down-turned bills.  This Curve-bill was hanging out in our parking lot at work.
QM Cactus in Bloom

Our newest garden is a Cactus Garden.  It was planted this year and already many of the cactus are blooming!  Its a beautiful site.Raptor Banding Feb 2nd 02

Drew and I had a fabulous opportunity to tag along on a Raptor Banding field trip with Bill Clark, who quite literally wrote the book on Raptors.  We banded several Red-tailed Hawks.  It was an unforgettable experience holding those giant birds.  They would look you dead in the eye but were quite docile while being worked up.  Then we got to release them right from our own hands.

Spartacus Jan 27 Bogie March 15

Now that duck season is over we are doing a lot of relaxing on the weekends and it has been really nice.  Its our busy time of the year at work so coming home to these two babies is always a highlight in my day.  As spring approaches are calenders are filling up even more (including a last-minute getaway to HAWAII over Easter!) and I can’t wait to see what South Texas has in store for us.

How I Got Here

This post was inspired by Rachel’s post “Evolution of a Field Biologist” on her blog:

Growing up, when people asked me “What do you want to be?” I always answered with either veterinarian or artist. I’ve always been in love with dogs and animals but I’ve also always been in love with art and drawing. In high school I fell in love with drawing fashion. I filled sketchbooks full of clothing ideas. I decided, some time around 10th grade, I wanted to be a fashion designer. The summer after 11th grade my mom actually brought me to New York City to visit and have an interview/portfolio judging with Pratt Art Institute (my mom is indeed pretty awesome, more about that in another post). I was accepted to Pratt but because it isn’t a public university there wasn’t much room for federal aid and we decided it would be best for me to stay home and go to LSU. Also in my 11th grade year I started work under the best boss I’ve ever had, a veterinarian. While working at the vet I decided I would like to go to vet school and on my Freshman Orientation day at LSU I changed my major from Fashion Design to Natural Resource Ecology and Management (with a concentration in wildlife and a plan to go to vet school).

My first Natural Resources class was RNR 1001 and the professor’s passion and knowledge (as well as my first scuba diving trip) made me decide I wanted to be a fisheries major! After seeing coworkers at the vet try and try to get into vet school I decided I didn’t want the stress they were going to. Fisheries became my new fascination and I also began taking Oceanography classes which got me interested in environmental science.

After my freshman year I left LSU to go to University of New Orleans to study environmental science and policy. You know, change-the-world kind of stuff. Unfortunately, I only attended UNO for a week… then Hurricane Katrina shut everything down. I spent the next year at community colleges and decided I did not want to return to New Orleans. I went back to Fisheries at LSU. What a GREAT decision that was!

After working at the vet for 5 years I decided to leave to work for LSU Fisheries and get more experience in the field. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in fisheries but I knew one thing, I didn’t want to study inverts, which was a huge part of fisheries science. Working for the fisheries grad students also got me interested in going to grad school but getting my Master’s was something I never really thought of myself doing. But as the semesters went on and my relationships with my professors strengthened I found out that grad school was going to be the perfect fit for me. I dropped the fisheries concentration to get some more wildlife classes and began searching for a graduate position. After almost a year of searching I found a long-shot position studying elk in Arkansas utilizing GIS. I’d never even had a GIS class before but I love elk so much so I applied. And amazing, I was selected for the grad job!

Now, 2 years after that, I am finishing up on my thesis project and about to marry a man I met in grad school. My future career is completely open right now but I’ve never been more excited about the possibilities. I will still be working on my research and thesis throughout the summer while searching for a job. I’m still in love with art and expend my creative energy by crafting and wildlife pencil drawings. All of these past decisions and circumstances brought me here and I couldn’t be happier with where I am. And thank goodness I didn’t go to Pratt!

About Me ABC’s

About Me ABC’s (stolen from Husky Hiker)

A – Age: 24

B – Bed Size: Queen

C – Chore You Dislike: Cleaning the floors, ugghh

D – Dogs: Always

My Bogie.

And Spartacus, my fiance’s dog.

E – Essential Start to Your Day: Puppy lovin.

F – Favorite Color: Blue! … and purple! and green and brown

G – Gold or Silver: Silver, always

H – Height: 5’8″ which is 11 inches shorter than my fiance, so 5’11” in heals!

I – Instruments You Play(ed): In school: Violin, Flute, Clarinet. Brief encounters with: Guitar, Accordion

J – Job Title: Graduate Research Assistant (is it over yet?)

K – Kids: Not yet!

L – Live: My time is split between south Arkansas, south Louisiana and south Texas!

M – Mom’s Name: Karen

N – Nickname: I’ve never really had one

O – Overnight Hospital Stays: Nope, never

P – Pet Peeves: People making up their own words to a song

Q – Quote from a Movie: Last week we put liquid paper on a bee!

R – Righty or Lefty: Right handed and Right eyed

S – Siblings: None! And I don’t even get any when I get married, we’re both only-children!

T – Time You Wake Up: Varies day-to-day, usually around 8

U – Underwear: I love my undies from Target

V – Vegetables You Don’t Like: I’m not a big veggie person, I really don’t like celery

W – What Makes You Run Late: Hitting snooze too many times, I HATE being late!

X – X-Rays You’ve Had: Oh wow, let’s see: both wrists, knee, ankle, face (nose), kidneys, spine…

Y – Yummy Food You Make: Spicy Cheesy Grits! Making some today for a potluck

Z – Zoo Animal Favorites: I always have to go see the elk, giraffes, and big colorful birds!

Unworthy Photos

This is a photo prompt from the Outdoor Blogger Network.


I am an avid lover of wildlife, especially cervids.   Anything that grows antlers just fascinates me.   On top of my love for these beautiful hooved creatures, I’ve spent the last 2 years studying elk.   So why is it that every time I get the opportunity to take a picture with some antlers…

I can NOT seem to put them on correctly!!

Yes, I am a professional wildlife ecologist who doesn’t know which way antlers go.

Second to Last Semester

Sitting here in an empty office, fighting off a cold, I’m reflecting on the end of this semester.  I can’t believe I just finsished my 3rd semester of grad school.  Only one more to go and I’ll be released into the real world!  Eek.  In undergrad at LSU, I spent my last 3 years preparing for graduation.  Constantly updating my resume, networking, emailing professors all over the southeast.  I was so excited and ready to take the next step!  But now… I don’t wanna enter the real world!  I mean sure, it’ll be great to be making enough money to feed myself AND pay bills but I’m going to miss school!  It’s all I’ve known for the last 21 years of my life.  And it finally feels REAL, I won’t be in school anymore after next May.  Of course that doesn’t mean I won’t go back to get my PhD, but I won’t be doing that in South Texas because we only plan to live down there for 2-3 years. 

This was a pretty good semester.  I really enjoyed my class (Large Mammal Ecology and Management) and learned a lot about myself and what I want in my career.  I know I would be happiest if I could work with both handling wildlife and doing public outreach.  Which is funny cause my Master’s project has involved neither.  Its been all GIS and Statistics.  Which I also enjoy, but there is nothing like seeing a someone’s face light up as the get to pet an alligator or snake you’re holding.

Next May I’ll finish my grad coursework and hopefully by August I’ll have my Master of Science in Wildlife Ecology and Management.  I can’t believe its so close.  And I can’t believe I actually have to start looking for a big-girl job now 😛