The wonder of the web is built on links; links within sites, and the extended and almost infinite links between ideas across the web. What follows is a personal and changeable collection of links that have been helpful to me in some way.
Inspirations for This Site
These two sites, each quite different from the other, were the sparks for thinking about what I could do with my local park.
Zen Sutherland's site about western North Carolina was one of the first sites to open my eyes to what the web could make possible. His site is idiosyncratic, lovingly designed, diverse, and not updated for the last year or two. I tried encouraging him several times, but to no avail.
Zen's WNC Nature Notebook
In one of the frequent delicious ironies of the web, I was led to Zen's site from the other site that has served as my inspiration, though the two authors have never heard of each other. IT has been nearly nine years since this site was updated, but it has a dated, early Internet charm and enthusiasm. Still a fun place to start.
Preservation Society fior Spring Creek Forest
Derek Hill and his father Jack began a site about the nature preserve near them more than seven years ago, when Derek must have been about 15. Spring Creek Forest is considered unique. "John White of The Nature Conservatory believes, 'It is very unlikely that any other forest like the one along Spring Creek exists in the nation.'" The Hill's site in remarkably comprehensive, and has the best set of natural history links I have ever found. I regularly steal them. This site is worth a long, leisurely tour.
In an early entry, the Hill's Spring Creek Forest site talked about the trout lilies being in bloom. At the time, I had no idea what a trout lily was, so sometime in 1999, when the web was much smaller, I did a search for a picture of a trout lily and found Zen Sutherland's site. As I looked at Zen's site, with its understated simplicity and beauty, an old desire of my own began to transform itself into a new, on-line, project. I had always wanted to do a book about everything that lived and happened in one place, but who would publish such a work? The web provided both the means and an audience.
Links to Links
To lightly paraphrase the book of Ecclesiastes 12:12 "of the linking of many webs there is no end." This list is of sites that themselves have notable link lists. For general natural history information, these sites have seemed to me to be either comprehensive, or extensive in narrow areas.
Spring Creek Forest Links Page
The pages of this site have an excellent collection of links, not only about the local environment, but also to pages with in-depth coverage of very specific areas of natural history.
This site seems rather simple when it opens, and the navigation may take some getting used to, but in these pages there must be thousands of links, not all good, but good to browse through, just to see what a welter of diversity is out there. Done by a retired professor, the site is added to irregularly, but when you need to know something fairly obscure, find your way to his alphabetized index, and see what he may have.
Done by naturalist Jim Conrad, this is the site to go to if you want to learn how to study nature, or when you get tired of the flash of some Internet sites. Jim's site is as plain as a 1960s pizza, but as rich in content as a five star Cordon Bleu restaurant. Again, it may take some fishing to find the best stuff, but Jim has a love for nature, and especially plants, that shines through what he writes, and infuses every page with an enthusiasm that is both healthy and infectious.
Great Nature Sites
There are thousands of wonderful sites, most of which I have yet to discover, but I have tried to list a few here that you may not find on every list, and which have been helpful to me.
The Sonoran Desert Naturalist
This site seems to have been up for some years, the site is quite specific to the Sonoran desert, and particularly in Arizona. But there is a wealth of information, and some tasteful watercolors (as well as the usual photos) by Michael Plagens, the designer of the site.
His record of what happens in his 4.5 metre by 2 metre concrete pad and the small area of soil surrounding it is remarkable, and an excellent reminder of how many other living things make their homes around us.
Wendee's site is as much about writing, poetry, and the life of the spirit as it is about 'nature,' but she writes with wonderful simplicity and clarity, and has an openness that challenges while it invites. From pictures taken by Wendee and her husband to web site designs for some really eclectic clients, there is much to delight the eye here.
For the joyous, sad, eye-opening, tragi-comic, soul-bending adventures that Wendee has been through since 2005, her blog is as raw and open and funny and . . . well, you just have to read it.
John Ratzloff must have started early to get naturalist.org
and his site is filled with journal entries, stories, and reflections on life that illustrate just how broad-ranging a naturalist can and should be. Be sure to read some of his stories, he is a great storyteller.
A whole site on the natural history of North Central Texas this is fulfillingly comprehensive. I discovered it from a link for John Ratzloff's site above. I am just beginning to explore this in January 2009, but already I am amazed at the breadth of material he discusses or links to. Highly recommended.
For complete weather records for the Dallas-Fort Worth area, this site has it all. The boxes on the page are all drop-down lists allowing you to pick the period and type of weather data you are interested in. Amazing stuff tucked away here going back to 1898!