Monday, July 13, 2015

Nature Abundance Disorder

     Much is made of the problem of Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD) with today's profuse electronic distractions as well as other activities dominating time away from the outdoors. This is bad news for conservation. More people with a poor understanding and direct experience with nature are less able to understand its relevance and importance.  
     I'm presenting this blog post to describe another affliction, Nature Abundance Disorder (NAD.) For a general naturalist, this affliction is quite oppressive. Its symptoms include frustrations with not being able to identify plants and animals across a broad spectrum of observations.  Its solution is a life-long quest to learn nature.  I admit to being afflicted with NAD. And I admit my enthusiasm infects others such as grandchildren. No apologies. In a recent visit, we spent a couple of fairly short field trips equipped with the simplest of gear:  snake hooks, dip net, seine, bug net, gloves, boots and camera. The secret is to just get out and do it! Find a public park, a private pond or stream you can access and get the kids out there. You may not know much of what you observe but the opportunities for identification and information have never been greater with all kinds of web sources and field guides available to assist. There are numerous bird field guides as well as others ranging from butterflies to snakes and lizards.   Search state wildlife agency websites, The Nature Conservancy, Audubon, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or just spend time googling places such as "BugGuide" and "Kansas Herp Atlas."  
     The purpose of this post is to demonstrate how much nature you can pack into just a couple of hours and how easy it is. Look under rocks and logs. Seine and dip net the stream. Inspect the stream or pond bottom for the wide variety of aquatic critters that lurk there. Watch and listen to the birds. Notice the bugs on the flowers. Studying nature is as easy as simply following your curiosity. Trust me as someone who deals with the NAD affliction! Here's what's possible in just 3-4 short hours of "outside time."  
Adaira strains to hold the seine.
Pic by Katelin Hutto
    Many aquatic surprises await to be discovered in the dip net.
A beautiful Orange-throated Darter (fish) is the best treasure in this haul.

Pic by Katelin Hutto
A small Ringneck Snake lurked under
a stream-side log.
 Like some other snakes and mammals this one plays dead
 by rolling over on its back and showing a reddish tail.
Three year-old Sylvie shows how docile
and fun this little snake is.
 On the way home while stopped on a country road, we heard a
pretty bird song and look what it turned out to be--a Painted Bunting!

Paxon found a Prairie Skink under a rock.
Visit a nature place near you.  Its as easy as going outside!

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